How my first shore leave got spoiled- Sailor’s Story

We departed from Taiwan on 13th November, wherefrom I joined my first ship as a junior engineer.

The ship sailed out for the port of Richards Bay, South Africa, and in between, the ship was planned to take bunkers, provision, stores, and spares at Singapore anchorage.

We reached Singapore on 17th November.

If you have read my experience as a trainee marine engineer on board ship, I have mentioned that we didn’t have an internet connection on board.

After reaching Singapore, I brought the most expensive sim card of my life, which cost me 20 USD for just 1 GB of internet for a day.

shivam agarwal at singapore anchorage

It was a great experience talking to the family and friends after four days in between bunkering operations.

We departed from Singapore on the same day to continue the voyage to Richards Bay.

It took us 22 days to reach my first port.

A little bit about the First shore leave

At the port, my working hours were from 2000 hours to 0600 hours, so after finishing my duty at 0600 hours, I went asleep, woke up at 1200 hrs. I had lunch and got ready to go ashore.

It was like a newly married bride dressed in the best outfit, waiting for her husband on their first night.

My condition was the same; I was ready to go ashore but waiting for other crew members to join me.

Finally, 4th mate and 3rd mate managed their port watches with second and chief mate, and we stepped out of the ship after 22 days of long sailing.

You might be thinking of- Is 4th mate a rank in deck department?

Actually, that vessel was a self-unloading wood chip carrier, so they have an additional officer (4th mate) to take care of navigation watches on the bridge, as there was a lot of work on deck for which chief mate was responsible.

So, the chief mate was doing day work and 4th, 3rd, and 2nd mates were keeping navigation watches at the bridge.

Guys, going for shore leave after such a long voyage is a feeling that only a seafarer can understand.

The port of Richards bay had a free bus service up to the seaman’s club.

We took the bus and reached the seaman’s club, there we played snooker, had some drinks, ate some snacks, did some shopping, and took a private taxi to explore the city further.

There, we went to a beautiful riverfront location full of local shops, pubs, shopping centers, restaurants, etc.

shivam agarwal at porky restaurant richards bay

The best part was, the place was located on a riverfront.

We did some shopping, took some beautiful pictures, and went to porky’s restaurant, where we had pizza, bread, and pasta with a few drinks, and we returned on the ship.

As I said, my duty starts from 2000 hours; I reached the ship at 2200 hours.

Actually, I already had managed the work hours with the duty motorman, so coming late wasn’t any big deal.

The tragedy of the day

The real tragedy happened when I was entering my cabin, and the second engineer was also in the same alleyway.

He didn’t scold me for coming late, but what he then said spoiled my first shore leave.

His words were “Shivam, today you have to clean the scavenge air manifold and under piston areas of all the units of main engine single handily, and duty motorman will remain standby to assist you if required.”

My Inebriated state was over, the moment I heard this.

That Mitsubishi 7UEC 50LSII main engine had a box-type scavenge air manifold.

There aren’t any separate doors to clean under piston spaces. Moreover, there isn’t any flat surface to sit and work.

So we did all the paperwork for enclosed space entry as per company policy, I put two portable blowers (one for air entry and another one for exit), took a small wooden stool, wore a disposable boiler suit, took sludge bags, bucket with diesel oil, and went inside.

It was such a painful job for anyone because you cannot even straighten your back while working in that confined space.

I continuously worked from 2300 to 0530 hours and was able to clean only four units out of 7; the other three were then cleaned by another motorman the next day.

Another crazy act

I was wearing a disposable boiler suit for the first time in my life. So what I did was, I took out my regular boiler suit and put on the disposable one on my inner wears.

The duty motorman also didn’t warn me to make my fun afterward, and when I came out in the morning, he started laughing.

I saw my underwear and sando with full of lube oil.

shivam agarwal when trainee marine engineer
shivam agarwal when trainee marine engineer scavenge space cleaning

That was a very tiring night of my life and a memorable one also.

I hope you loved reading it, kindly share your memorable experiences in the comment section below and share it post with your friends on social media.

ALSO READ: My experience of joining a Ship by Helicopter

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