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Nutrition concerns when onboard

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  • Nutrition concerns when onboard

    I'm a senior cadet and have been on five vessels now. However, apart from one vessel, I have concerns about the state of what seafarers are being fed. On my last vessel, I was fed a carbohydrate only diet, very little protein or fats, and few calories.There was fruit about once a week, and one type of vegetable every few days. Now I left this vessel with a number of small health issues which were definitely caused by the diet, one of them being very serious and needed surgery when we were in port. The diet went against any standard recommendations.

    We were receiving an average food budget on this vessel, so I have a feeling the budget was either being mostly spent on alcohol or going into the captain's pocket. We weren't getting the amount of food you would expect with the budget.

    The others ships were similar stories to the one above. Is it the same for everyone else? If it is the same story for most seafarers, I am going to start questioning whether I'll continue when I finish my cadetship. I know food is only a small part of the career, but my health is important for me.

    What has the food been like on your ships?

  • #2

    Well that's odd to say the least. However, I'd just like to put a few myths to bed first before we move on. The budget for the food is separate from that of the slop chest and the Master of a vessel cannot "pocket" it or spend it all on Alcohol as he has no control over the money used to pay for it. Normally what's done is that the Cook on board will raise a requisition for what ingredients he needs and this will normally be sent by a shoreside purchaser (or catering department) to a local ship chandler and once a quote is approved by the Supt. then the money will be sent by electronic transfer to the chandler, so it's highly unlikely that it will be spent solely on booze and it's not going to go to the Captain. Normally, a food budget is set by the crewing department (or it is for us anyways) and it is normally based on the ITF standards which is about $7.50 per day, depending on where you are operating (e.g. Australasia region is about $13.50 per day) which should provide the cook with enough ingredients to do a fairly good job, and for the most part it does.

    Now, from what you've described, it doesn't sound like the most healthy of diets, but I don't see how it could have made you ill enough to require surgery? To be honest, if you did fall ill from something on board, I would start by looking at the FW tanks, the FW generator, the pipelines, the cleanliness of the kitchen, the refrigerators on board and how well the cook actually cooked first before I went anywhere else as these are normally where the problems develop. If there is an issue with the food and diet on board, then let your company know about it as it would be something they would definitely look in to.

    To answer your question, I've had a mix. I've been on ship's where the food was fantastic, and some where the food has been bloody awful and it's all been down to the Cook on board. They all had similar ingredients, but one just couldn't cook to save his life (but his baking was fantastic). We joke that the Master is not the important person on the ship, and it's true, he/she isn't, it's the cook and the vast majority tend to be pretty good.

    If you want to go into this a bit further, then send me a PM...
    I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

    All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.


    • #3
      Whilst I agree with GMs post as to how the food requisitions should work, there are still some companies where the master pays in cash and can easily pocket the excess, not ideal.
      I think you've been very unlucky, and your situation is not the norm, at least not with good companies. That being said its always well worth taking supplements such as vitamins and cod liver oil capsules to assist.


      • #4
        Yeah it is still reasonably common for captains to be given cash to buy food with especially on smaller ships, such as coasters, dredgers etc. And while I am sure there are a few captains who will pocket some of the money or spend it on booze, however I think that it is much more likely that budget is just poorly managed by the captain and the cook and the result is spending a load of money on food which can't really be made into decent meals.

        I now always take vitamins with me because the food generally available on the ships I've been on is simply not healthy enough. I also think that perhaps there is some sort of cultural problems with regards to the food on ships, rice and some form of weird meat/fish three times a day might be normal in other countries and their bodies have become used to it, but for a British person suddenly eating that sort of diet it can cause havoc with your digestive system (sorry for lowering the tone slightly)


        • #5
          Thanks for your replies.

          I'm not going to state what kind of surgery I had as this will reveal my identity to those "in the know", however it was caused by a faecal stone infecting a part of my stomach which then had to be removed. The doctor confirmed it was caused by a poor diet, especially lack of fibre. It wasn't food poisoning.

          With this company's ships at least 80% of the stores we take on are alcohol. I don't drink at all so I'm annoyed by this. I'm not sure whether I should speak up about the diets or not.

          I'm definitely going to take supplements with me next time. When I finish my cadetship I'll find a good company or pack it in.


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