A Day in the Life of a First Mate

Life Aboard a Ship

The day of a First Mate or the Chief Mate as he is commonly known, begins at 0400 at sea. I arrange to be woken up at twenty minutes to four. After taking over watch from the second mate, who keeps the midnight to four watch, I head for a cup of tea. The cadet, who gets his training under my supervision, usually makes it unless he is too busy with something.
The planning starts the moment I am woken up and continues till I go back to bed. It is an integral part of a Mate’s life, for no work however small, can be accomplished, without a fair amount of planning and anticipating the difficulties one may encounter. I think I get paid for thinking on board. It is in ways similar to a job of a housewife who is expected to do everything and manage within the resources available to her. My notebook comes in very handy in all this and I often wonder how I managed things during pre notebook days.
The incharge of the crew, the Boatswain or Bosun in short, comes up on the bridge at about seven and I tell him what is on my mind for the day. Together we do a little discussion and agree on a final plan.
After breakfast, at eight, I change into my coveralls and go for a general round of the vessel, to check everything is, as it should be. Once planning is done, it is time to execute and monitor the plan.
After lunch, I take a short nap and get up for tea at 1500. Take another round on deck to see that the work is going as expected and resolve difficulties, if any. I go back on my navitgational watch on bridge at 1600 until 2000. The bousun and the fitter (if on board), report at 1800 about the jobs done during the day and I note it down in my works diary.
Dinner on board is at 1800 and after finishing watch if there is not much of a backlog , I go down to the lounge to be together with other ship mates. I usually end the day by 2200 so that I can start the next day afresh at 0400.
This is the typical day when things have gone more or less as expected which is not very often, especially in older vessels. I remember a time when we had arrived at Richard’s bay in South Africa and the moment we docked we noticed a hole in her forepeak tank. The hole was very small and it took us a while to locate it. I was there the whole night and most of the following day. My wife who was sailing with me, got worried. She asked the radio officer, “Have you seen my husband? I haven’t seen him for over a day.”
Life is tough but it has got its own rewards. A hard day’s of work gives you a sense of satisfaction. You feel great after a job well done.
I love the sea. I have spent most part of my adult life there. I would continue to sail till I can and enjoy heading towards where the ocean meets the sky.

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Today I bring you this picture of love.

A calf showing some affection


Madison Mancinelli said...

What a beautiful article! I live in the Rocky Mountains which have their own captivating beauty. The few times that I have been fortunate enough to visit the ocean, I have experienced the majestic wonder of the sea! I would love to visit again (both the sea and your blog)!!

vrajesh said...

beautiful..i have a similar picture..