An open letter to my kid: This is why I only come home twice a year
Since young, I have always taken an interest and been fascinated by all things Engineering. That passion led me to enrol into Marine Engineering Diploma with Singapore Polytechnic where my lecturers would share interesting stories about life at sea. Keen to experience the life I heard about so much, I decided to head out to sea and subsequently led to where I am now as a 2nd Engineer with the CMA CGM Group.
As a 2nd Engineer, I plan and execute engine maintenance according to the planned maintenance system and ensure the compliance and maintenance of key technical metrics. As the second-in-charge in the Engine department, I also delegate duties to ensure that the team progresses together.
After almost 15 years, I still love my job and life at sea feels pretty much second nature by now.
Keeping The Spark Alive at Sea
As a seafarer, I am often faced with different situations at work but with the very supportive colleagues; we always manage to make things work.
Having a good team of Engineers makes a lot of difference as I feel that I can always count on them, even when work might get tough. It also makes work so much more enjoyable and efficient as we work as a team to brainstorm and solve issues as soon as they arise.
Although I can’t spend as much time as I would love with you and the family, watching you grow up in videos and photos motivates and energises me to work harder at my goals, and I’m grateful to have you as my pillar of strength.
What I love about being a seafarer, is that having sailed onboard 14 vessels, I am still in awe of every voyage as they each come with their characteristics and charms. I recall my very first voyage, where I was entirely unfamiliar with work demands at the time. Unlike now, I did not bring a laptop, a proper uniform and ended up being able to call home only once per voyage.
As the years passed, my work became more familiar which made my role more fulfilling! One instance was when I was on my fourth vessel as a 2nd Engineer, it turned out to be the same vessel that I had served as 4th Engineer back in 2013. I remember it feeling nostalgic and exciting to be back to a vessel I had previously sailed on.
On top of all the fun things I get to do, we also organise weekly parties onboard every Saturday where we get to play games like Bingo and even get to practice our vocals with some karaoke sessions!
Reflections Seafarer – Parent
While a career is important, so too is family. And seafaring parents always think of their children at sea.
One of the most valuable life lessons I’ve learnt on my voyages is that keeping curiosity alive is key. Always ask questions and be willing to learn! No matter how long I’ve been in this role, I also believe that ‘A calm sea will never make a good sailor’. As you grow older, you will have to go through trials and hardships to become stronger as a person. Always take things one step at a time, and never fret over instances you cannot control.
Being in maritime for this long, I would love to see you coming into this industry one day so that I can share my love of the sea with you. Singapore is a leading maritime hub, with plenty of opportunities to succeed in whichever role you may choose to pursue!
Thank you, Joelle, my 15-month old daughter, for listening to your mother and for being such an obedient girl when I am away from home. I promise that once I have attained my goal of Chief Engineer and move ashore, we’ll have plenty of father and daughter time together. One day, when you are old enough, you can read this letter I have written for you and hopefully, I’ll be there reading it beside you too.