Every so often Rob takes me to a sailing with him. His job as a ship agent takes him to many ports on the shores of New York and New Jersey and it’s exciting to go to work with him and see what he does. It’s also cool to be up close to these giant sized ships.
Our adventure last weekend began at 8am on Saturday morning. We drove to a port in Newark so that he could board an orange juice ship. I sat in the car near the water’s edge and watched him as he walked through the gates and up the gangway. It’s an amazing sight to see the crew members walking along the top of this massive ship…and it’s pretty cool to know that it’s delivering orange juice!
We left Newark and drove to the launch in Staten Island where he was scheduled to board a tanker carrying petro. It was near lunch time so we stopped at a local Italian deli and took our food to a park nearby; it was beautiful to be eating lunch by the water with the skyline of New York City as our view. We finished eating and headed to the launch.
The person behind the desk was waiting for Rob to show them the paperwork to get a launch boat to take him to the tanker waiting for him in New York harbor. He asked if I could get on the launch with him and they said “yes.” I thought I was just taking a ride to the ship and was a bit surprised, and scared, to know that I could board the tanker with him. The gangway that led up the side of the ship was more than 50 steps high; Rob climbed up in front of me quickly and with ease; I climbed up behind him slowly and cautiously. We got on the ship and had to climb up and down more ladders, signed in with a crew member and proceeded to the captain’s office.
The captain and crew were from India. At first they seemed a bit quiet and reserved while Rob did all the necessary paperwork with them, and then I began to ask questions (as only a writer will do!) I asked the captain and the crew what they do while they’re at sea to pass the time. He told me that they watch television, read, relax, and spend time together yet he did tell me that this type of tanker doesn’t allow any alcohol on board for safety reasons. No beer, no wine, no anything. The captain said it doesn’t bother them and that no one misses it.
He began to tell me that he’s at sea for four months, then home for four, then the cycle starts all over again, and keep in mind, he’s been a captain for over 15 years. He told me that he’s married with three young children. I asked him how his time away from home affected his marriage. He told me that his wife likes the four months of handling the money and being in charge of the household, and that she has a “to do list” ready for him when he gets home.
And then he told me something that surprised me yet melted my heart. He said that “even though my wife and I are apart for four months, each time I go home is like the first time and it’s as if we fall in love all over again. It’s still exciting and we make the most of our time together until I leave again.”
Wow…he’s not only a ship captain, he’s a hopeless romantic.
Before we left the captain was gracious enough to show me the bridge and give us a tour.
I learned a lot on that ship last weekend.
I learned that no matter where anyone is from there is a universal language of love.
I learned that we’re all connected in some way.
I learned that everyone truly does have a story.
And I learned that my love for people, their stories and trying new things is far greater than my fear of climbing up the side of a ship on a gangway.
Wishing you love and light,
*For more information on the job description of a ship agent, you can search this website for my story “A Day In The Life Of A Ship Agent.”