SEPARATION FROM FAMILY, COMMUNICATION BREAK-DOWN ARE DOWNSIDES OF SAILING
It is not only a challenge to be separated from your family on a regular basis throughout your career but also tough. For a seafarer this is part and parcel of their lives.
Then it is not only the separation and distance that linger at the back of your mind when you are out at sea but also the thought of not making it to shore alive when the weather is not friendly; especially when there is bad weather while out at sea.
These were the sentiments shared by Goundar Shipping Limited (GSL) engineer Tausie Apao.
The 39-year-old is one of the pioneer staff of the shipping company as an engineer. He is also the chief engineer who brings ships from foreign countries for GSL when it started its operations in 2011.
On July 20, he was part of the crew that was welcomed at Port Mua-i-Walu when he was engineer on the new addition to the GSL fleet - Lomaiviti Princess IX (9) from Japan to Fiji. Lomaiviti Princess IX is the latest addition to GSL’s f leet.
“My first voyage was back in 2011 with
Lomaiviti Princess 1 and not only have I sailed in the Fiji waters as an engineer for GSL vessels, I have also held on to the responsibility of being a chief engineer while having to go and get our new vessels from foreign countries,” Mr Apao said.
“There are many good things about this job, having to visit other countries and learn about different cultures, the views that greet us early mornings and during sunsets, the company that we keep and work together to try and achieve our common goal; but there are still challenges that we have to encounter everyday,” he said.
“This is a role that requires our full concentration on the job and at times sleepless nights as we have the responsibility to keep the ship going while out at sea.”
He said the most important challenge he faced was being separated from his wife and son with restricted communication. “Having to be away from family is the greatest challenge for me and I believe experienced by all seafarers in Fiji and the world. “Imagine you in the middle of the ocean in another part of the world and you have your wife and only son at home wondering how
you are doing.
“At times when there is no connectivity, they would be anxious as to how I am doing out at sea and likewise for me wondering what they are doing at home.
“This is hard, to be in the middle of nowhere - that is why I say that it is the greatest challenge that we have to encounter while at sea.” Mr Apao said he had always had the dream to one day become an engineer and being a seafarer was not a part of his plans. “I started my career as an engineer with the then Public Works Department and for various other companies on the ground before I made the shift in 2011 to join a shipping firm. “The transition was not much of a change because the work I carry out is still the same; only the work environment is new. “Here at GSL I do watch keeping while we are at sea as I am always on watch and as a chief engineer when we are out at sea.
He said despite the challenges, he is thankful to have a group of hardworking co-workers that enable him to enjoy the tasks he needs to carry out.
“I am grateful to have co-workers that have make our trips an enjoyable one, we understand each other, especially the hardships of being separated from our families. We ensure that everyone is well looked after and everyone enjoys their time out at sea.”
“Having to be away from family is the greatest challenge for me and I believe experienced by all seafarers in Fiji and the world. Imagine you in the middle of the ocean in another part of the world and you have your wife and only son at home wondering how you are doing.”
Tausie Apao (third from right at the back) with the Goundar Shipping Limited crew that brought in Lomaiviti Princess IX on July 20, 2019.
Tausie Apao (right) with a co-worker at Port Mua-I-Walu 2 on August 20, 2019.