After six years at sea

[Citeste acest articol in limba Romana AICI]

After six years at sea all I got is a lot of white hairs, a car, a plot of land, a few good and plenty bad memories. I dedicate this article to all young people who are thinking of going to work and live on the high seas in life.
I made my first voyage in 2010 during my last year at the naval academy and I was among the lucky few who began their cadet program during the academy… . Now that I think about it, I was among the lucky few who caught a cadet contract at all.

I was glad when I left, it was my first real adventure in life, the first time I was leaving home for such a long period, the first time I went to America and on my plane ticket was written Los Angeles. Los Angeles I didn’t get to see that time ,  I only saw the highway from the airport to the boat. The enthusiasm vanished in less than a week, when I realized that I would spend the next six months sleeping in a narrow bed in a narrow cabin, on a ship with a narrow deck, where everybody abuses you, where you work absolutely every day and where everyone only cares about their own skin.

[Read more after photos]

Just another normal sleepless night at work
Catching up with family in a free minute

I chose this career mainly to get to see the world rather than for money, but I soon I realized that you see the world only through airports, or when you are woken in the middle of the night to assist with the ship’s docking maneuvers, or you can see it in your only 6 hours break time if you sacrifice your sleep hours and if your legs are still able to support you. Port views are usually limited to a large container yard, often far away from any settlement, usually a 25 $ taxi ride away from the city. There are exceptions of course, ports like Hong Kong or Singapore, where the port is practically downtown. Or you can stay one month in a shipyard, or sit idle with your engine broken down somewhere nice. Sometimes when you sign on or off from the ship you’re lucky enough to catch a few nights at a hotel, then you can really get to see and enjoy the city, but due to economic reasons this happens rare. It happens sometimes to catch a long stay in some ports, where the cargo operations are very slow due to the management, but this is usually the case in third world countries, where you don’t want to stay long, and you definitely don’t want to go the city.

Honk Kong entrance

In these years I have learned, usually the hard way, that there is no justice on the ship, no matter how many rights and goodwill you have, you will still bite the dust. To survive here and climb above others have you have to step on their heads and be like a snake. And I realized that in an isolated environment if you give the power to a mentally deranged individual who had a bad childhood, he will start acting like the master of a slave plantation and will fuck everybody, and there will be no one around to keep him under control.

But this isolated environment also creates good things: you will make tight bonds and friends that in an office environment would never happen. Apparently if you spend a few months, day and night in a small confined space with the same few people, you either become very good friends with them, or you will find a thousand ways to kill them in their sleep and throw the body in the ocean at night without being seen by anyone. If you’re not a racist you will probably become one, because most people on board are. This starts also from the shipping and crewing companies who assign ranks and set the length and wages of  your contract based on your nationality.

There is no more honor in this business, virtually all your life you will be a mercenary of the sea, in search of better conditions and pay. Before, each country had it’s own merchant fleet, manned with national crew. Nowadays you will find yourself celebrating New Year somewhere in West Africa, among pirates, in the company of barbed wire, surrounded by Russians and Filipinos, on a German ship sailing under the Liberian flag. Isn’t globalization beautiful?

nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit
after years at sea nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit

And than there is the other life: the life ashore. Your time home between voyages, which may be shorter or longer, is not just a vacation, it’s basically your old life since before you started sailing, life that you are trying desperately to cling on to, but with each voyage it becomes more distant and unimportant to you. After 6 months on the high seas, you land in your country for 2-3 months and you simply do not understand what is going on around you. You missed your mother’s birthday, you missed the wedding of your best friend, you missed the latest movies … you missed a lot. And by the time you clear your head and start to adapt somewhat in society, your phone rings and you have to pack up and leave again.

Now imagine what it’s like to start a serious relationship in these conditions. Unless you’ve had your wedding in your early 20’s, or you are in a good consolidated relation with your high school sweetheart, you realize how damn hard it is to start and especially  maintain such a relationship. Be prepared to face situations like: you just finished a contract and come back home to find that your girlfriend is pregnant and already moved in with another dude. But the good thing is that because of these situations you will have a stronger character and you cope more easily and more prepared in future years. And more importantly you will know how to select and value those who remained beside you during hard times.

Years of  continuous non-interrupted daily work with many hours, little and random sleep time, eating food of doubtful quality,  extreme swings of temperature, years of living in a vibrating and rolling environment where your time zones shifts daily,  where the only available comfort you find in alcohol and tobacco and where coffee in large quantities is your best friend, will have an impact on your body. If you managed to escape serious physical injuries and accidents, you can be sure that you will pay in other ways. Those many white hairs that appeared on your head are just the surface syndrome.

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There is also the good part that everyone is thinking about: the money! If you sit isolated on a floating prison, means that you do not really have on what to spend the money you earn and you will put them aside. If you got some brains in your head and at the end of the contract you don’t not spend them all in one shot on a BMW,  after a few contracts on the sea you can actually think about buying an apartment, a piece of land, or a house with cash down. So while your friends are struggling with credits at the bank for the next 30 years, you have a chance to avoid this. But as I said earlier, you will pay in other ways, whether it’s with your time, your health or happiness. It is the price worth it? … . That is for You to decide!

Perhaps I am being subjective here, and on other ships, at other companies, the life on board is better. I write to you sharing my experience on container ships, deck department. But one thing is certain: nobody will give you back the time spent at sea.

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Check out other expat lifestyle articles: UK Immigration – how much does it costs to relocate to England? ,First 30 days in Hull UK as Expat , France one year impressions , How to get PACS in France ,  Expat beginner’s guide to moving to France , First 48 days as expat in France ,  After six years at sea

Check out other trips: First 48 days in Marseille FranceRomania road trip across the country in 7 days , Budapest Hungary road tripPrague – dream vacationExcursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, HistriaVacation Madrid SpainTwo days in Jacksonville USAParalia – Greece road tripBrasov 12.2014Buzau quick stopLepsa & Vrancea countyChisinau city breakNessebar BulgariaBucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea40 days in Cluj NapocaHunedoara CastleSingapore 2013Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013San Pedro-Ivory Coast , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-Chile, Valencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New ZealandSan Francisco USATauranga NZ

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

How the other half lives :  KarachiGuayaquil  , Lagos

Dupa sase ani pe mare / After six years at sea

[Read this article in English HERE]

Dupa sase ani pe mare m-am ales cu multe fire albe, o masina, un teren, cateva amintiri bune si foarte multe rele.  Dedic acest articol tuturor tinerilor ce se gandesc sa plece pe mare.
Primul voiaj l-am facut in 2010, eram in ultimul an de facultate si am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia din timpul facultatii ….daca ma gandesc mai bine am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia in general.

Eram bucuros cand am plecat, era prima aventura in viata, prima oara cand plecam de acasa pentru o perioada asa mare, prima oara cand mergeam in America iar pe biletul meu de avion scria Los Angeles. Los Angeles nu am apucat sa il vad atunci, am vazut doar autostrada de la aeroport la vapor. Entuziasmul a disparut in mai putin de o saptamana, cand am realizat ca imi voi petrece urmatoarele sase luni dormind intr-un pat ingust, intr-o cabina ingusta, pe un vapor cu o punte ingusta unde toti abuzeaza de tine, unde muncesti absolut in fiecare zi  si unde fiecare isi vede doar de basca lui.

[citeste mai departe dupa poze]

Just another normal sleepless night at work

Continue reading “Dupa sase ani pe mare / After six years at sea”

Quick update

( English version of article below photo )

Dupa cum majoritatea dintre voi stiti nu am mai scris in ultimul timp datorita plecarii in voiaj. Am aproape 3 luni la bord , si mai am aproape 2 pana termin , va salut cu ocazia asta din Kingston , Jamaica , unde este un fum inecacios cauzat de incendierea gropilor de gunoi situate in imediata vecinatate a orasului , si desi nu este chiar atat de grav si vizibilitatea este buna , jamaicanii au decis ca este o scuza destul de buna sa suspende munca in port si sa se relaxeze , cauzand intarzieri in lant la toata programa navei , atat a noastra cat si la restul navelor port-container ancorate afara care asteapta in rada o dana libera ; in cazul nostru intarzierea se resimte mult mai mult , pierzand rezervarea foarte costisitoare de pasaj a canalului Panama ce urmeaza dupa Jamaica. Acestea fiind zise , voi reveni cu articole si reviewuri despre orasele Continue reading “Quick update”

Cum sa afli pozitia unei nave / How to find a ship’s position

[for English version scroll down]

Pentru toata lumea care are un frate , amic , prieten , iubit sau iubita plecati pe mari si oceane in caz ca nu stiati astazi exista diferite metode de a sti pe unde umbla respectivul sau respectiva , fie ca vreti sa stiti din motive de siguranta , curiozitate sau “de control” sa zic asa.

Orice nava din lume este obligata sa care in ziua de azi un transmitator AIS (Automatic Identification System) , acest transmitator emite un semnal ce contine numele navei , pozitia ei si destinatia urmatoare , si tot acest semnal poate fi captat de alte nave , statii de coasta dar si de radio amatori care intra pe frecventa potrivita. Exista pe internet site-uri care capteaza aceste semnale si le transpun pe o platforma de genul google maps. Pe internet exista mai multe site-uri de genul ,  dar preferatul meu este , un site gratuit , simplu , cu o  interfata usoara.

Va dau un exemplu dedesubt usor de inteles pentru a gasi o nava oriunde si oricand  ( este necesar sa stiti doar numele navei sau numarul IMO al acesteia ) Continue reading “Cum sa afli pozitia unei nave / How to find a ship’s position”

Paused – back to work

[English version below]

Ok , vacanta s-a terminat , duminica pe 6 aprilie am taiat-o la aeroport , cu destinatia finala Busan – Korea  via Paris. Voi reveni peste 4 luni cu review-uri  din Korea , China , Singapore , India si…. cine stie pe unde mai ajunge nava , va fi o surpriza si pentru mine , charterul actual al navei fiind aproape terminat. Nava este asta ,si astea fiind zise  , va Continue reading “Paused – back to work”

How the other half lives: Karachi – Pakistan

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Pakistan- un stat tampon , creat artificial sub imfluenta britanica intre Iran si India , pentru a separa populatia indiana de religie musulmana de restul Indiei in speranta de a calma comflictele etnice , o natie de 180 de milioane de suflete , unde Karachi este principalul port si orasul cel mai mare. Am avut ocazia de a il vizita de mai multe ori la ultimul voiaj , dar niciodata nimeni nu s-a incupatat sa iasa din port afara in oras , mai ales cand stirile roiau de atentate cu bomba recente in oras. Desi PIB-ul si resursele tarii sunt impresionante , toata averea este tinuta in mana elitei coruote , majoritatea oamenilor traind intr-o saracie crunta , supravietuind cu cativa dolari pe zi , sau din agricultura sau pescuit. Pescuitul aici consta in mersul in larg cu zilele in niste barcute mici de lemn , Continue reading “How the other half lives: Karachi – Pakistan”

Alternative tourism destinations: Nouadhibou graveyard – a unique phenomenon / un fenomen unic

[english version below]

Nouadhibou , un orasel cu specific pescaresc din Nordul Mauritaniei , Africa , este mai mult cunoscut ca cel mai mare cimitir de nave maritime. Datorita coruptiei oficilialilor portuari acest golfulet a devenit locul preferat de a te descotorosi de o nava de care numai ai nevoie , sau vrei sa o faci pierduta din diverse motive. Astazi golful este locul de moarte a unui numar mai mare de 3oo de nave , adunate in timp , cele mai vechi si mai erodate si-au croit drum pana pe nisipul plajelor , iar aditiile mai recente inca stau in larg la ancora fara vreun suflet la bord plutind singuratice sau legate in serie mai multe  , asteptand sa se roada lantul ancorei care inca le mai tine pe pozitie. Astazi a ajuns un loculet destul de fascinant , demn de scenarii pentru filme postapocaliptice.


Nouadhibou, a fishing town in northern Mauritania , Africa is more known as the largest graveyard of ships. Because of the port officials corruption  this bay has become a favorite place to get rid of a ship that you no longer need, or want dissapear for various reasons. Today the bay is the place of death for more than 3oo ships, gathered over time, the oldest and most eroded  made their way to the sand beaches and the most recent additions are in still at anchor with no soul on board, waiting to for the anchor chain to erode . Today it’s a pretty fascinating place ,worthy of post-apocalyptic movies scenarios.

Vezi alte calatorii / other trips : Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013San Pedro , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena , Salerno , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Firenze , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta , Valencia , Lima , Bremen , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta , San Juan , Barcelona , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphor by ship , Sydney , Melborune , AucklandSan FranciscoTauranga

Alternative tourism: Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Chernobyl   , Nouadhibou graveyard

In cealalta jumatate / How the other half lives : Guayaquil  , Lagos