Onboard, we heard that seafarers were really struggling with having been at sea for so long. There were signs of mental and emotional burnout, but so too physical.
Crews reported that their tolerance is being stretched as they continue working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. We heard from seafarers who are trying to find solace in the distraction of work and are using it as a means of blocking out the concerns about crew changes.
However, it is clear that sustained periods of working are taking a heavy toll. Extended contracts mean that many crews are having to sustain tough manual work, and such tasks are leaving them utterly exhausted. It seems the time spent onboard is breaking both bodies and their spirits.
SOCIAL DISTANT IMPACTS
Social distancing onboard was seen as making life harder even than usual. There were many seafarers who felt increasingly isolated, unable to mingle as they might. It is difficult seeing merely masks instead of the faces of colleagues, and there are signs this is having an impact and reducing a sense of engagement onboard.
Notwithstanding the problem of distancing, there were some positives reported. Seafarers spoke of an increase in the sense of unity onboard. Crew felt a sense of togetherness, as they struggle through extended contracts together. Those who spoke positively said shared activities, and mealtimes were singled out, as a vital opportunity to see others onboard.
SHORELEAVE NO MORE
Shore leave during a pandemic is as difficult as one might expect, and as such many seafarers have simply given up on the concept. Indeed, many were also pleased to stay onboard, as they felt vulnerable to infection in some of the nations visited. This fear also surrounded visitors to the vessel, and there was some sense of relief that the number of people coming onboard has dramatically dropped. Which also means far less paperwork to be completed, another issue which seafarers felt strongly about.
The crew change crisis is still very much a problem, and seafarers are incredibly sensitive to the issue or when they will get to leave the ship. Crew feel increasingly feel trapped, isolated, worried and just want to get back to their families.
IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTIVITY
The Happiness Index responses also featured many messages about the importance of communication and connectivity. The ability for seafarers to talk with home is vital, and not just for them to share their news, but also to hear the reality of what is happening back at home. There are real fears surrounding safety and wellbeing of families and loved ones, and it is so important that seafarers feel properly informed.
Unusually for the Index, we heard from seafarers who are not actually at sea. As so many are stuck at home unable to join vessels, many voiced their frustrations and fears, indeed it was stressed that many are facing potential financial ruin as they cannot join vessels. While many feel no option but to contemplate career changes in the months ahead.
WE NEED MORE DATA
We always need more data, and to hear the stories of more seafarers…and for those who have already done so, to share again.
So please visit www.happyatsea.org to find out more, and to complete the survey. We also want these reports to be spread as far and wide across shipping as possible, so please do share these findings.
We must also thank the companies which have approached us about setting up bespoke happiness surveys for their own fleets as they see the value in benchmarking their own performance against the wider population of seafarers.Back To News