Feature: Life at Sea ??? The Adventures of Two Captains

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A ???sea bath??? in Bajan parlance, is one of the most exhilarating and relaxing pastime for many Barbadians. On any given Sunday, scores of sea lovers make the trek to a beach on the south or west coasts of the island to relax and frolic with their children.

Despite its reported therapeutic benefits for a range of ailments such as arthritis, the sea has opened up a range of economic benefits for millions of seafarers worldwide, who have shaken off bouts of sea sickness, loneliness and missing the warm embrace of their children, to ???carve out a life at sea???.

Captain of the Jewel of the Seas cruise vessel, Thore Thorolvsen, has experienced many ???highs and lows??? of a life at sea for 47 years as a fearless seafarer. He reminisced about his life at sea during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, on World Maritime Day, which was observed on September 26.

He said: ???The sea is my only life. I never really considered anything else and I have had the fantastic opportunity to see the whole world at the same time while working. Going into the cruise business is quite different from that of a merchant mariner because you have a combination of seeing the world, working with a lot of people, [and interacting] with guests on board the ship???This is complete enjoyment for me,??? Captain Thorolvsen quipped.

Born in Norway, a country synonymous with rowing and yachting, Captain Thorolvsen started sailing from the age of 16 and since his father, grandfather, great grandfather and other male relatives were already seafarers, a life at sea was ???a natural fit???.

The veteran seaman described seafaring as a ???fantastic career??? and advised young people who were still undecided about a vocation, to ???look to the seas for their economic development, the opportunity to meet new people and to cultivate a better understanding about their cultures???.

However, pursuing a career at sea did not come without much academic discipline and dedication. Captain Thorolvsen explained: ???To be a captain on board a ship, it is a combination of practical sea time and formal marine education. I am not sure what the requirements are now [to be a captain] but when I pursued my studies, it took eight years to acquire my Masters Unlimited Licence. Once you have acquired this licence, you are qualified to captain a vessel.

As part of the activities for World Maritime Day, retired Captain Dennis Griffith, also mounted a display of maritime memorabilia at the Prince Hall Masonic Centre, Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

Those who trickled in to view the display, were ???bowled over??? by the wealth of maritime history that Captain Griffith had collected over the years.

He said the ???pictorial trip down memory lane??? showed photographs of all the Barbadian seamen that died during World War II, the vessels they died on and the German submarine that sank those vessels.

Captain Griffith also recreated the failed West Indies Federation with a display that showed photos of Sir Grantley Adams, his Cabinet and two vessels that had been donated by the Canadian Government to the then Federated West Indies – the Federal Palm and Federal Maple.

In another presentation, Captain Griffith showed the various vessels that Barbadian seamen worked on, the accidents that occurred on them, and the ships that took hundreds of Barbadians to Britain during the wave of migration from the West Indies during the 1940???s and 1950???s.

He said the exhibit also featured photos of the hospitals where most Barbadians worked in the United Kingdom and there were also snapshots of the railway system and other features of the ???mother country???.

Captain Griffith said his daily trips to Brandons Beach from his home at Richmond Gap, St. Michael, led to a love affair with the sea that began in 1962, and ended in 2008.

The retired seaman said he began his career as a deck boy working on schooners before moving on to the bulk ships which transported salt from Mexico to California and Washington in the United States and Vancouver, Canada.

While in Canada, Captain Griffith said he attained his Able Seaman certificate, and on returning to Barbados, he secured a job on board the Booth Steamship and the Blue Starline cargo vessels.

During his career, he moved up the ranks from an Able Seaman to Master Mariner (Sea Captain) ??? the highest rank in the maritime industry.
Like Captain Thorolvsen, Captain Griffith also encouraged young people to consider the sea as a viable career. ???Being a seaman is a good career. You get to see places, learn new things, experience different cultures and [gain] exposure to the work ethic of people in other countries.???

In the world, there are about 1.5 million seafarers who, through their selfless and unique contributions to the well-being of the global economy, have decided to conquer the vast oceans for the betterment of themselves and their families. In essence, every seafarer is an ambassador for their respective countries as they ???go about their daily tasks diligently be it steering a ship into a new port or transporting 90 per cent of the world???s trade safely.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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