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  • Family life at sea

    Hello all,

    I've chosen to post this thread here as I was a bit unsure as to the best place for it. Please feel free to let me know if you feel it would be better suited elsewhere.

    I am about to start Phase 1 of an FD Deck cadetship at Warsash through Maersk. I'm 26 and very recently married the woman/girl of my dreams after 9 years of being together. My career choice has been a thoroughly discussed, thought through and mutual decision, but it would be great to hear from you guys about the challenges of building and maintaining a family whilst working at sea.

    My wife and I are looking to have kids at some point, and while we understand that these things seldom can be planned, we have been talking a lot recently about timing.

    Anyone have any experiences and wisdom to share on the matter of balancing family and career? I'm sure there is a lot of very valuable insight to be found, not only for me but pretty much everyone looking to start a career or start a family after qualifying.

    Much thanks in advance


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • #2
    I'll let you into a little secret garnered by sitting listening to many phone calls between sailors and their spouses. I have no evidence to back this up apart from personal experience.

    Nurses make the best spouses for seafarers. I don't know why. Maybe it's the fact that they take responsibility for other people's lives at work. Maybe it's because the kind of people who want to be nurses in the first place can cope with all the separation and hassle.

    I have listened to a very large number of fraught calls home. Very very few of them involved nurses.
    io parlo morse

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    • #3
      Oddly enough, I've been told the nurse thing as well...
      'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans'

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      • #4
        Well, a friend of mine works as a senior manager in construction, he leaves the house at 7am every morning and arrives home about 8pm in the evening, often works weekends and gets around 3 weeks leave per year. I work 6 months per year, the entire 6 months I am off is quality time with my family. I can pick up my kids from school, we can go on great adventures during the school holidays, the weekends I'm not tired from a week of work so it's no hassle preparing the car on a friday morning and picking up the kids from school and driving off somewhere far away for the weekend.
        But, then you can also find yourself away for Christmas, Birthdays, Sports Days, Wedding Anniversaries etc.

        The life is what you make of it, it can be very good, or very bad. I met my wife on cruise ships, she likes our life just the way it is.

        Although I've yet to figure out why the milkman seems to visit so often when i'm away.... :-)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by YoungMariner View Post
          Although I've yet to figure out why the milkman seems to visit so often when i'm away.... :-)
          io parlo morse

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          • #6
            If as you say it is truly mutual and thought through, then you are halfway there. However remember for the cadetship things are not the same as once you qualify so there will be a few different stages and transitions.

            For the main part though it has as much chance of working or failing as any relationship, kids will come but getting time off will need you to be honest and open with the company, no good announcing you need to be home next month cos she's about to pop the bun out the oven, it isn't like you haven't had 9ish months warning

            Nurses and teachers seem good, often it's a help if they have some sort of career as well which might be why nurses get so high up the list. But then I also know others who happily carry on without needing a career.

            I guess is down to the people involved........
            Trust me I'm a Chief.

            Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
            Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
            No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.


            Twitter:- @DeeChief

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            • #7
              Thanks everyone for some great replies.

              One of the things we've been talking about personally is the whole career thibg. My wife currently has a very comfy job as a gardener at a zoo, but has been worried that it maybe doesnt engage her enough when I'm away. We're definitely thinking about moving down to warsash area for my phase 3 and finding a place there.

              I think it's always going to be tougher on the person "left behind" i'll be out learning and being bombarded with new impulses while she's just kinda stuck at home with the same old routine plus the loneliness. I definitely think its important for her to have something to work towards and push for whilst I'm away.

              She jokingly said a kud might provide the distraction she needs. I said that might not be the most ideal plan while I'm a cadet

              Any thoughts on timings with regards to kids? Just let whatever happens happen? Very good point from YoungMariner about the quality time leave affords you, thanks.


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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              • #8
                If she gets bored she could look for a job at Marwell Zoo, about 30 min drive from Warsash. Or if no jobs there, some voluntary work.
                Former TH cadet with experience of cruise ships, buoy tenders, research ships and oil tankers

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                • #9
                  I feel particularly qualified to talk about this subject just at the moment!

                  Crew change dates are never set in stone, more so in some sectors of the industry which can lead to problems. I live in Spain while my kids live in the UK with their mother, I was due off here on 16th August and as I am on a back to back rotation the only delay that i could foresee would be the ship not being in port and maybe coming back a few days late so my wife and I booked to travel to the UK on 23rd, and take the kids to the Isle of Wight for a few days holiday, as I am presently typing this from my cabin about 60 miles off the Ghanaian coast you will see that the holiday had to be cancelled.

                  So yes, the job does create some particular challenges when it comes to family life, however, as YM said there are a lot of plus points as well, particularly as your kids are growing up and you get to do many of the things that dads never have the chance to do.

                  One of the things that struck me was that the first wedding i ever attended was last year and it was my own, I had somehow managed to be at sea for every wedding of my friends for 40 years.

                  If you have discussed the choice with your wife and you both understand the challenges then you are halfway there, like YM I met my wife on cruise ships and then for various reasons ended up in the offshore industry, so while she understands the idea of me being away, she doesn't really quite grasp the fact yet that my due off date and the date I actually end up leaving the ship are not always going to be the same.
                  Go out, do stuff

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Clanky View Post
                    I feel particularly qualified to talk about this subject just at the moment!

                    Crew change dates are never set in stone, more so in some sectors of the industry which can lead to problems. I live in Spain while my kids live in the UK with their mother, I was due off here on 16th August and as I am on a back to back rotation the only delay that i could foresee would be the ship not being in port and maybe coming back a few days late so my wife and I booked to travel to the UK on 23rd, and take the kids to the Isle of Wight for a few days holiday, as I am presently typing this from my cabin about 60 miles off the Ghanaian coast you will see that the holiday had to be cancelled.

                    So yes, the job does create some particular challenges when it comes to family life, however, as YM said there are a lot of plus points as well, particularly as your kids are growing up and you get to do many of the things that dads never have the chance to do.

                    One of the things that struck me was that the first wedding i ever attended was last year and it was my own, I had somehow managed to be at sea for every wedding of my friends for 40 years.

                    If you have discussed the choice with your wife and you both understand the challenges then you are halfway there, like YM I met my wife on cruise ships and then for various reasons ended up in the offshore industry, so while she understands the idea of me being away, she doesn't really quite grasp the fact yet that my due off date and the date I actually end up leaving the ship are not always going to be the same.
                    Unfortunately my transfer to the Offshore industry has been much the same, in the last 18 months I have only once disembarked as scheduled... In the previous 12 years of sailing deep sea I only once disembarked different to planned.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chris View Post
                      If she gets bored she could look for a job at Marwell Zoo, about 30 min drive from Warsash. Or if no jobs there, some voluntary work.
                      She's a horticulturist, so some kind of greenhouse collection work would be ideal.


                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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                      • #12
                        Dont know the Warsash area that well. There are some GM seed companies in Guildford but thats an hour away by car.
                        Former TH cadet with experience of cruise ships, buoy tenders, research ships and oil tankers

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                        • #13
                          I used to cycle to Warsash everyday through the village of Hook where there is/was a commercial greenhouse thing called Lowaters Nursery, might be worth a look?
                          The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.

                          - Douglas Adams

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