As posted on Humans At Sea Instagram.
I met a ship’s Master today who, along with his crew, had been on board for between 6 – 12 months. None of them had any idea of when they’d be able to travel home. They sit out there at sea, completely isolated with the only face to face interaction being from a pilot either here (Port Hedland, Western Australia) or in China.
They’re not allowed off for even ten minutes to touch dry land. While they can communicate with their families, all they can otherwise do is watch as this pandemic spreads throughout the world taking people they know and love.
In China, if they have an ill or injured crew member the only way they’re able to receive any form of medical care is to be tested for Covid 19 and wait two or three days for the test results to return negative (which it will because let’s face it, how on earth could they become infected when they’re more isolated than we are in our homes). To be honest I’m not sure on the regulations here, however I’d hope they’d be able to receive care a little more promptly.
And this story isn’t just one of tens or hundreds, it’s one of thousands and thousands. But they carry on, transporting all manner of cargoes between countries in order to keep economies ticking over and supply chains fed – all of which is necessary.
And that’s heartbreaking in and of itself.
But then the Master told me a story of an old friend of his who’s also on a ship chartered between Port Hedland and China. This 63 year old Captain recently lost his wife after a ten year fight with cancer. And yes, you guessed it, he’s unable to leave the ship and travel home to be with his three children. He’s also unable to even stop doing his job as no one is able to travel to join the ship in order to relieve him. The Master of the ship I was piloting was nearly in tears telling me this story of his old friend. All I could do was offer him sympathy.
While I understand and agree with the need for travel restrictions, the isolation and abandonment ship’s crew and their families left at home are facing is beyond heartbreaking and, if not tackled soon will become a pandemic of its own.
Originally shared by @mattman0072 on Instagram.