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Drinking on Merchant ships

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  #26  
Old 23rd December 2012, 08:51
jeraylin jeraylin is offline  
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To answer the question in modern times: For non US flagged vessels it depends on the company, Maersk are dry and all outfits have a policy. My employer allows beer in reasonable quantities and wine with meals and at particular times such as Xmas. Other end of the spectrum is the US flag which has a complete ban but as an earlier corrspondent said - that does not stop them - I've seen them trooping back on board carrying cases under each arm. If your vessel trades to the US you have to have a random alcohol testing policy in place regardless of flag. That and many other reasons like intimidation by uscg, criminalisation of seafarers, loss of shore leave has resulted in a lot of professional seafarers refusing to join a ship that trades to the US.

Last edited by jeraylin; 23rd December 2012 at 09:02..
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  #27  
Old 23rd December 2012, 10:15
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Originally Posted by tom roberts View Post
Sailed with some miserable skippers who kept to two cans a man per day and one or two who took delight in stopping it altogether,a Palm line one who was the most miserable of them all, a log mad tyrant I had the misfortune to sail under.Any one else had the misfortune to suffer a similar experience?.
I sailed with a master who did that. Just as we'll, because otherwise the crew would have been legless all the time, instead of just in port.
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  #28  
Old 23rd December 2012, 10:20
oldseamerchant oldseamerchant is offline  
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I sailed with a master who did that. Just as we'll, because otherwise the crew would have been legless all the time, instead of just in port.
I'll agree with that!
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  #29  
Old 23rd December 2012, 17:29
oldseamerchant oldseamerchant is offline  
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Originally Posted by lakercapt View Post
Care to name him Tom?
Did he have the initial "K"??
Is that wise??
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  #30  
Old 23rd December 2012, 21:08
tom roberts tom roberts is offline  
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NOR and Oldseamerchant it seems that both of you had or have a very poor opinion of ships crews or is it just of the focsle ratings,I sailed on a number of ships and never experienced mass drunkeness among the men I sailed with, to turn to drunk when working on deck i.e,topping derriks .rigging the jumbo working aloft ,over the side on stages etc would have been suicidal. Maybe you both were unlucky to suffer signing on a load of plonk merchants.
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  #31  
Old 23rd December 2012, 21:51
oldseamerchant oldseamerchant is offline  
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Originally Posted by tom roberts View Post
NOR and Oldseamerchant it seems that both of you had or have a very poor opinion of ships crews or is it just of the focsle ratings,I sailed on a number of ships and never experienced mass drunkeness among the men I sailed with, to turn to drunk when working on deck i.e,topping derriks .rigging the jumbo working aloft ,over the side on stages etc would have been suicidal. Maybe you both were unlucky to suffer signing on a load of plonk merchants.
Hardly.
Probably
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  #32  
Old 26th December 2012, 17:51
crellintk crellintk is offline  
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Drinking on ships

Joe Q kindly drew our attention to the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, which imposes quite low limits on ships crew who are on duty (quite reasonably), but also on those off-duty 'who may be required in an emergency' - i.e. virtually everybody.

Fair enough for ferries and month-on-month-off trades perhaps, but on say, a six-month FG trip, apparently no-one can have more than the approximate driving limit, day or night - ever.

One does not have to be a dedicated drinker to find this rather outrageous from the point of view of social equality. I cannot think of any other profession or occupation in the world which labours under such draconian rules.

Are firemen, police, soldiers, doctors, Prime Ministers, etc., similarly restricted 'in case they are called out in an emergency?'

Yes, we may have to concede that there are special circumstances at sea which make such rules necessary (mostly in the opinion of legislators who are not, of course personally affected by them), but if so, they should come with equally special compensation, including a limit on length of service.

I didn't notice that happening in 2003. Or have I missed something?

Ken C.
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  #33  
Old 26th December 2012, 20:18
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Originally Posted by ART6 View Post
In my time in the late nineteen fifties and sixties, officers were allowed to buy all the booze they wanted from the bond. The crew, however, were limited to two can of beer a day and a tot of rum on Sunday morning -- when I was S2/E the engine room crew would line up outside my cabin and I would dispense Four bells. I tended to give generous measures of a full tumbler each, since I felt that it was only fair. I had only one issue as a result--a double DR who wouldn't go down on his watch, but a firm talking to in the crew accommodation at midnight, combined with a gentle threat of a hard kicking, solved the problem! I assume that the chief mate did the same, although we never discussed it.

There was unlimited drink in the saloon, and it was customary to order Tennants by the case for drinking with colleagues in ones cabin. One could get as p***ed as one liked, but there was the one arbitrary rule: "The Job." That meant that you had to be down below fifteen minutes before your watch to do a quick check round and then take over. If you felt sick then get over it and fast. Check the control panel blackboard and see what the previous watch had done, and what was left to do, then bloody do it! There was nothing like a steam ship's engine room to produce immediate sobriety.

So why did we manage to go all over the place without hitting anything too often, and without some sort of drink-driving laws? Perhaps because we were trained at sea by our superiors that it didn't matter if you were sick or dying on your feet. It didn't matter if you were injured or genuinely ill. Get your **** down below. You have a watch to keep. Your god is "The Job."

So, what's changed? Well, in my time we had things called "Crews." There were many more of them than officers aboard than there are nowadays. The officers didn't outnumber the ratings by several orders of magnitude. There was no political correctness and no female officers, hence no distractions. It was possible to walk bollock naked down the engineer's accommodation to get one's Ganamool boiler suit from Bombay out of the engineer's washing machine room without offending anyone.

We didn't do three months on and a month off. When I first went to sea I signed articles for two years, and did twelve months before a fortnights leave. We lived in an autocracy where the master was God, and the chief engineer was as close as it got to God. In the engine room hierarchy the senior second engineer was the one who would give you field days if you didn't do your job one-hundred percent -- "Press that engineers alarm on the panel and I'll have yer bloody life. Run the Job!"

I left the sea many years ago now, so I probably am romanticising, but in my days going to sea was much like joining the army or navy. You did it because of the challenge. That, I suspect, has been lost in the morass of container ship and bulk tanker milk runs. It has been lost in the demand for "qualifications" when the best possible qualification for a ships engineer came from the shipyards on the Tyne and Glasgow, even if he had to learn to stop eating Cornflakes with a fork in the saloon. The one thing he did learn on his first trip was to be a man, and that was an education beyond price.
Interesting reading Art6, I recognise the setting immediately, although making a man of somebody is arguable. I think it certainly altered ones outlook on life, but that was for survival more than anything else and allowed some ship operators to get away with some bad conditions on badly designed vessels. Anybody complaining would not be tolerated either by the company or more directly your own shipmates - quite a few of whom had reached the stage of being unemployable on anything but ships - all this being involved over the years of making them men. As a consequence the design of British ships accommodation etc in those days, and quite a bit later, became moribund when compared with Nordic/German /French vessels of the same period.
My own lungs still suffer with the conditions in the machinery spaces of steam ships of that period - something that wasn't apparent until many,many years later - all the time being made a man. As an officer it was bad but for some off the e.r. ratings it was appalling - uninsulated cabin decks(up to six per cabin) located immediatly above the steam/steam generators. Even in temperate climates they had to use wooden clogs to move around their cabin to get dressed - of course these guys had surpassed being a man and had become something else, usually soaked in alcohol merely to put up with the conditions.
I later moved onto more modern motor ships with better social spaces
and reasonable cabins with air conditioning (that worked) - I also noticed that very slowly the type of officer, and later rating was changing to a more socialably 'normal' type of person - still doing more or less the same job but with seemingly a more relaxed attitude. The odd tyrant Chief or OM still existed but they were phased out as the years passed. One interesting factor that came about being that officers/ratings transferred onto older tonnage quite often presented a happier and less strained group than had been experienced years before - a much more convivial group. Oh..... I seem to recollect that they were all men as well.

LouisB.
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  #34  
Old 26th December 2012, 21:06
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LouisB's experiences are the ones that seem to match mine more closely than the long ago times of ART6's. As far as I can recall both officers and crew (European crew that is) seemed to be able to buy all the beer they wanted in their respective lounges and on the whole most seemed to drink more than was good for them, but only a few got to the point where it interfered with their work significantly.
Sorry ART6 but I was one of the first of those female officers whom you found to be a distraction. All-male environments must be very rare now, outside of monasteries, and most professions seem to manage their work adequately without finding the mixture of sexes too distracting. And what of the same-sex distractions? Unsurprisingly, homosexual attractions apparently cropped up on a couple of ships I was on.

By the time I was out of my cadetship I realised that my tolerance for alcohol was unreliable at best so I made it my personal policy once I became an officer not to drink whilst with the ship - plenty of time for that on leave. Most ships had a very social atmosphere but I suspect that has totally died out now that so few officers are from the same countries - it is hard to relax and crack jokes in another language even if you can get by for work purposes.
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  #35  
Old 20th January 2013, 04:40
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marinemec2004 marinemec2004 is offline
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Women at sea!

Going to Sea was always a Male preserve.
Ships were hard and so were the men.
When ever we had women aboard invariably there was trouble -be it wifes or God forbid a female Ship's Officer.
Look at the Merchant Navy now, vessels run by The Captain who spends his time e mailing the office and the Chief Engineer who is a gloryfied storeman! So called Engineers and Mates who arent old enough to shave and are ticketed to the Top! Most couldnt put a nut on a washer!
As for the Royal Navy, who ever decided to let women sail aboard "fighting " ships needs their head examining. Totally destroyed the "maleness" camaraderie required in order to take a warship to war and bring her back.
Segregated accomodation and toilet /showers etc. Hairdryers , make up , perfume -and of course " that time of the month" !! Instead of Engine oil, diesel fumes , sweat , semen and CSB!
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  #36  
Old 20th January 2013, 06:59
kauvaka kauvaka is offline  
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Nina, BP in the late 50s,early 60s (Br Valour and Br Aviator) was 2 cans twice a week for the crowd anyway and a docking bottle a few hours before arrival at a paying-off port. The deck crowd would get a tot after tank cleaning as would the down below dayworkers after a boiler clean. Excellent rec room with Eddystone radio and boxes of Library of the Sea but space rarely used as little socialising. Swimming pool on upper deck well used south of Suez and no risk of drunken antics there. Kia ora!

Last edited by kauvaka; 20th January 2013 at 07:26.. Reason: Add "at a paying off port"
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  #37  
Old 20th January 2013, 07:16
garry Norton garry Norton is offline  
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Union Company ships were dry in the 1960's and when sailing it was not uncommon to have several of the crew under the influence especially whe sailing on a Saturday. During my time in P&0 and Indo-China where they had bars we had no trouble with drink. In recent years it has become an obsession about drink on ships. Shore Supers were more likely to drink and act like gods.
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  #38  
Old 20th January 2013, 10:39
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Mick Spear Mick Spear is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisB View Post
Interesting reading Art6, I recognise the setting immediately, although making a man of somebody is arguable. I think it certainly altered ones outlook on life, but that was for survival more than anything else and allowed some ship operators to get away with some bad conditions on badly designed vessels. Anybody complaining would not be tolerated either by the company or more directly your own shipmates - quite a few of whom had reached the stage of being unemployable on anything but ships - all this being involved over the years of making them men. As a consequence the design of British ships accommodation etc in those days, and quite a bit later, became moribund when compared with Nordic/German /French vessels of the same period.
My own lungs still suffer with the conditions in the machinery spaces of steam ships of that period - something that wasn't apparent until many,many years later - all the time being made a man. As an officer it was bad but for some off the e.r. ratings it was appalling - uninsulated cabin decks(up to six per cabin) located immediatly above the steam/steam generators. Even in temperate climates they had to use wooden clogs to move around their cabin to get dressed - of course these guys had surpassed being a man and had become something else, usually soaked in alcohol merely to put up with the conditions.
I later moved onto more modern motor ships with better social spaces
and reasonable cabins with air conditioning (that worked) - I also noticed that very slowly the type of officer, and later rating was changing to a more socialably 'normal' type of person - still doing more or less the same job but with seemingly a more relaxed attitude. The odd tyrant Chief or OM still existed but they were phased out as the years passed. One interesting factor that came about being that officers/ratings transferred onto older tonnage quite often presented a happier and less strained group than had been experienced years before - a much more convivial group. Oh..... I seem to recollect that they were all men as well.

LouisB.
ART6 and LouisB. I enjoyed reading both posts. I will add something soon.
Mick S
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  #39  
Old 20th January 2013, 10:44
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Originally Posted by marinemec2004 View Post
Going to Sea was always a Male preserve.
Ships were hard and so were the men.
When ever we had women aboard invariably there was trouble -be it wifes or God forbid a female Ship's Officer.
Look at the Merchant Navy now, vessels run by The Captain who spends his time e mailing the office and the Chief Engineer who is a gloryfied storeman! So called Engineers and Mates who arent old enough to shave and are ticketed to the Top! Most couldnt put a nut on a washer!
As for the Royal Navy, who ever decided to let women sail aboard "fighting " ships needs their head examining. Totally destroyed the "maleness" camaraderie required in order to take a warship to war and bring her back.
Segregated accomodation and toilet /showers etc. Hairdryers , make up , perfume -and of course " that time of the month" !! Instead of Engine oil, diesel fumes , sweat , semen and CSB!
Memories of CSB on my first trip in RFA. Probably a good thing it was phased out - a man's drink that was!
Mick S
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  #40  
Old 20th January 2013, 11:46
timo timo is offline  
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CSB....what was on the beer pumps...? 'specially brewed for the Royal Navy and RFA'.? Otherwise known as a pint of nerve gas...lol. I tried it a few times on the old Resource.....certainly had a kick to it.
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  #41  
Old 20th January 2013, 23:22
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Originally Posted by marinemec2004 View Post
Going to Sea was always a Male preserve.
Ships were hard and so were the men.
When ever we had women aboard invariably there was trouble -be it wifes or God forbid a female Ship's Officer.
Look at the Merchant Navy now, vessels run by The Captain who spends his time e mailing the office and the Chief Engineer who is a gloryfied storeman! So called Engineers and Mates who arent old enough to shave and are ticketed to the Top! Most couldnt put a nut on a washer!
As for the Royal Navy, who ever decided to let women sail aboard "fighting " ships needs their head examining. Totally destroyed the "maleness" camaraderie required in order to take a warship to war and bring her back.
Segregated accomodation and toilet /showers etc. Hairdryers , make up , perfume -and of course " that time of the month" !! Instead of Engine oil, diesel fumes , sweat , semen and CSB!

I can't decide if this is intended to be deliberately offensive or is tongue-in-cheek. In either case, not that funny and an insult to the many women who have worked/are working at sea in a professional manner. Absolutely perfect behaviour is of course not the preserve of any gender nor any profession but on the whole I do not recognise anything in what you allege.
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  #42  
Old 21st January 2013, 09:20
jg grant jg grant is online now  
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Hello from NZ. Well said Nina. Regards Ronnie.
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  #43  
Old 21st January 2013, 11:06
JT McRae JT McRae is offline  
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Actually I take offence to Marinemec2004's statement too, and I agree with Nina.
I have been at sea all my working life (I am now 58) and have been Chief for the last 20 years. In that time I have sailed with some very fine female ships officers and ratings. There is even a generally better atmosphere on board when they are carried also.

As for the Chief Engineer being a glorified storeman, I think it must have been some time since you were actually at sea! Although it is true that both the Captain and Chief have a lot more paperwork than ever before, the duties and responsibilities just get greater and greater. The "old-time" duties and responsibilities are still there, but the ships get more and more sophisticated and the job gets bigger and bigger.
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  #44  
Old 21st January 2013, 11:48
alan ward alan ward is offline  
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On one voyage we had 5 wives on board including my own,I found them be a calming,civilising influence. If the boys,myself included,decided to go on it in the bar the wives would stay until they got bored and then make their up the wooden hill.I never had the pleasure of sailing with femaleship mates,other than on passenger boats,but can`t see what problems would be peculiar to them.We were all a little odd at times!
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  #45  
Old 21st January 2013, 12:09
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Originally Posted by JT McRae View Post
Actually I take offence to Marinemec2004's statement too
Taking offence is a particularly modern thing. When I was at sea we didn't take offence we tried to give back as good as we got.
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  #46  
Old 21st January 2013, 15:00
JT McRae JT McRae is offline  
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Taking offence is a particularly modern thing. When I was at sea we didn't take offence we tried to give back as good as we got.
I thought I just did!
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  #47  
Old 21st January 2013, 15:48
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Agree with JT McRae,

Ships with female officers or crew are far better. I was lucky to have sailed with some first class people including those of the fairer sex and in my own experience it works very well! There are now many women working at sea in all ranks. It also never changed any of the best aspects or the finer traditions of going to sea and those female cadets I had the good fortune to help train were always up to any of the tasks and very often better than their male contemporaries. Should of happened a long time ago! Like anybody else going into the world of shipping, you either fit into a seagoing career or you go back ashore.
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  #48  
Old 21st January 2013, 20:00
John Lyne John Lyne is offline  
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The first time I got drunk was the first day on my first ship as an Apprentice...then followed four years of drinking as much and as often as possible......I guess it was an age thing as I have been TT for the past ten years (now with a nice healthy Liver!)
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  #49  
Old 22nd January 2013, 16:16
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I have respondedto Marinemec2004 on another topic,basicaly in agreement with his thinking and attitude as it came across in that instance . However when I read his entry no.35 dated 20th Jan. I can only agree totaly with the response made by Nina Baker / JTMcrae / Alan Ward " et al ". It would appear to me that Marinemec is one of an extinct breed, i.e. The Dinosaurs
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  #50  
Old 22nd January 2013, 17:44
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Originally Posted by ninabaker View Post
LouisB's experiences are the ones that seem to match mine more closely than the long ago times of ART6's. As far as I can recall both officers and crew (European crew that is) seemed to be able to buy all the beer they wanted in their respective lounges and on the whole most seemed to drink more than was good for them, but only a few got to the point where it interfered with their work significantly.
Sorry ART6 but I was one of the first of those female officers whom you found to be a distraction. All-male environments must be very rare now, outside of monasteries, and most professions seem to manage their work adequately without finding the mixture of sexes too distracting. And what of the same-sex distractions? Unsurprisingly, homosexual attractions apparently cropped up on a couple of ships I was on.

By the time I was out of my cadetship I realised that my tolerance for alcohol was unreliable at best so I made it my personal policy once I became an officer not to drink whilst with the ship - plenty of time for that on leave. Most ships had a very social atmosphere but I suspect that has totally died out now that so few officers are from the same countries - it is hard to relax and crack jokes in another language even if you can get by for work purposes.
It's been a long time since I last looked at this thread, so I missed your post Nina. Possibly my use of the word "distraction" implied more than I intended. I suspect that I was at sea in a different generation to you, and the rules were somewhat different then. We were all young men (average age well under thirty, even for chief engineers), and we worked in conditions that would have the modern HSW activists suffering apoplexy!

In those days the officers could buy whatever booze they wanted from the bond locker, but I don't recall any of us ever buying spirits -- I certainly didn't. We only ever seemed to drink cans of Tennants (or some obscure and unpalatable Asian beers when there was no Tennants). However, any engineer who allowed his booze consumption to threaten his work capacity would very soon come to the attention of the senior second -- in that capacity I came down very hard on anyone who did that. The crew then (European crews obviously -- the Muslim crews had other issues) were limited to two cans of beer a day and a tot of Four Bells on Sundays, administered by the senior second.

When I first went to sea there were no women on the ships, not even wives, as the trips were never less than twelve months. Wives, I suppose, had better things to do! In later years, as the duration of trips reduced, eventually to four months or so, wives aboard became more normal and we engineers had to become civilised! In my last trip before going ashore my new wife accompanied me, and she was impressed with just how gentlemanly the officers were towards her. They b****y well had to be, as I was the S2E!

When I finally came ashore, and spent a long career in the process industry, I encountered many female engineers and even trained some of them. I don't recall ever thinking of them as any different to the male engineers -- if you can do the job, do it. If you can't, go and play elsewhere, and it doesn't matter to me if you're male or female.

Of course there was always an element of homosexuality on long duration trips, but I don't recall that it was ever among the deck or engine crew, and certainly not among the officers. Some of the catering department were, perhaps, suspect, but I don't recall any problems from that. It was just the way life was.

Perhaps my take on the life at sea is coloured by my having spent all of my time on tankers, where there were no long runs ashore, unless you found the Shatt El Arab a convivial resort. We didn't get a week in port and endless runs ashore like they did in cargo ships. We discharged our cargo at ten thousand tons an hour and we then b*****d off to somewhere else.

The only thing I wonder about threads like this, is where it leads us. It is only a matter of time before ships at sea have only three or four seafarers in them, until they become fully automatic and then they have no seafarers, irrespective of whether or not they are male or female. Then, it won't matter if you are a male or female engineer or mate.

Nina, you will be soon replaced by a silicon chip, which will require no access to the bond locker and will not consider any gender discrimination.
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