Called by the sea – Crew member intimate experience during the lockdown

Nov 02, 2020

19th of March 2020 : 

Our contract at sea is suddenly shortened.  

In a few days time, we are going to be repatriated home. 


28th of March 2020 : 

Borders and ports are closing one by one. Powerless, we observe the virus hitting all around the world.  

Something went wrong with my flight. I will have to remain onboard as will half of the crew. While slowly time stretches thin... we cannot look to the future anymore. 


10th of April 2020 : 

Today we got told of a ban from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. From now, crew members cannot take any commercial flight from the United States of America.  

That close to get off the ship, most of us feel knocked out. No more choice.  

“Soon, you will disembark.” 

But what means “soon” ?  

It’s like running a marathon where the finishing line is impossible to perceive. Hold steady ? Why for ? And… most importantly… 

... for how long again ? 


22nd of April 2020 : 

Still no more evacuation possible. Only the horizon as far as our eyes can see. 

Thousands of seafarers stranded, in quarantine at sea during the pandemic.  

As my projects and life plans drop and go up in smoke, my brain switches off. 


3rd of May 2020 : 

That makes me go through different emotional stages. Stuck in the middle of a huge amount of doubts. Sorrow… Loneliness…  

Anchored in the middle of the ocean…  

So far from everyone.  

So far from everything. 

It’s a gnawing pain which awakes anguish when the sun goes down. And always this question: “Will life go back to... normal ?”  

Because after all… we don’t know when we will meet our loved ones again. 


Someday in May : 

I lose track of time, days and weeks.  

Daily life commands mental endurance and despair affects us differently. 

Although resigned to our situation, a spark of hope remains.  

I don’t feel anymore as an enthusiastic person and a tireless worker. As most of my desires disappeared, I don’t know in where to direct my feeble motivation. 

To not give in to panic, the mind spurns fear and makes its way through this stack of uncertainties. 

Isolated in our cabins when not working, the lack of physical activity increases the psychological distress. I realize that in fact cruising and having social interactions was protecting and preserving our micro society at sea. 

Each one of us processes in their own way.  

Frustration, anger for some. Looking for the limits to shake and rebel against the new repression system. Finding their own way to cope with the situation. 

It becomes difficult to see any favorable outcome.   

We all know that the world is falling apart and it’s like nothing will ever be the same again. 

The impression that our route will lead to the rocks… 


Stress gets the upper hand. One day, confined in my cabin, I begin to be scared… An indescribable terror and unknown confusion come over me. 

I feel a hurtful and incisive fear even though, the ship is the place where I feel the safest right now. It’s feeling secure and vulnerable at the same time. 

The only touch of color and hope in our horizon is the never-ending shades of blue. I’m staring into it… Waves shimmering become hypnotic. 

Faced with isolation and lack of the Other. 

A mental jail whose only… the ocean could deliver us? Maybe losing ourselves in this infinity of tones could take us away… 

A thought. That crosses the mind…  

Dispel it. 

Past myths and these creatures inhabited the deep sea. What if these disasters were predicted before being provoked ? 

“Lost is the one who by imprudence listen to their voices” Homer’s Odyssey. 

Ocean’s aura is that innocent that might seem to be? 

I don’t know anymore. 


Another day in May : 

Slowly, everywhere in our planet and for everyone, this reality becomes our new normal routine. 

My mind is it playing tricks on me? Trapped in my own life, I slowly disappear of my own world. I become the shadow of myself. 

We continue to live and work day by day while our vision of the future slowly fades. 

Getting stronger through this experience?  


Maybe by trying to find serenity by way of loneliness. By creating a sanctuary in our own privacy.  

Even the sea shows us its discontentment, screaming through storms. Spectacular. 

When ocean’s waves start to roll and the wind blows across my cabin while the sky is getting darker. Gusts and first drops of rain lash my face. Air is electric.  

Silently, we enjoy one of the purest spectacle that the nature can offer… 


2nd of June 2020 : 

Today finally, I will be part of the charter flight arranged by the company, heading to Europe. 

How is it “outside” ? We know without knowing… 

After all, where is “home” ? The ship became the place where we had any point of reference for the past months. 

Land !  

My feet touch the ground after 80 days at sea. 

A last look for the vessel and the remained crew waving for us. My shipmates who don’t have yet the opportunity to get off. 

When are we going to be able to sail again? 

A subtle and emotional mix of excitement, apprehension and sadness when we have to let it go.  

The new outside world seems so unknown. Now owned by those who accept and are able to adapt themselves. 

  • Stay positive by looking for beauty and hope in each day. 
  • It’s time to embrace the uncertainty in life.