My name is Mickey Labordus. I am a second year student at Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz at Terschelling. After one and a half years of theoretical studies, with some scattered practical lessons, my first real sea trip on board of one of the ships of the JR-Shipping fleet made me quite anxious. What to expect, will it meet my expectations, do I have sufficient knowledge? There must be a lot I still have to learn. All kind of things you ask yourself when the minivan takes you to Hamburg, the port of departure.
Once signed on and a day on board you quickly find out there is indeed much to learn and some things are completely different from what you expected. Together with the school’s mentor on board or some of the crewmembers, you had to get a grip to take on things by yourself. Some questions were quite quickly solved but others needed some more time and attention.
As there were only three Dutch crewmembers, most communication had to be in English. A quick way to find out that you have some vocabulary issues and that you have to find new ways to express yourself. Most of the time you needed hand and foot language but we eventually always managed to get things done.
The plan was to sail 14 days on board of the, specially equipped for this Masterclass system, the time divided in periods of 4 days, two periods in the engine room , two on the bridge and one on deck. This was to speed up the time we needed to get acquainted with all the tasks on board. All crew members were quite prepared to teach and instruct us, we only had to ask. Obviously, what was nosing around for us, just ‘testing the water’, was a job for them. One moment you were actually working side by side, the other moment when this was not possible anymore, you had to watch from the side line.
That most students had different expectations became clear as some of them found it difficult only to watch and do nothing. They had imagined themselves working all over the engine room even before joining ship. Others had not even expected to be allowed to do some real work. In the end everyone will tell his own story when arriving home.
The ratings, mainly Philippine sailors were also very friendly, some of them clearly had problems working with female cadets; others treated you correctly from the start. Apparently it still raises eyebrows when a female crewmember embarks a ship. The Ukrainian captain and chief engineer completed the nationality triangle. They also were very friendly and welcoming, as was everyone on board, thus making this First Seatime period a tremendous experience for us.