meet ordinary ship's assistant
School: Skoleskibet Danmark
Started in ESVAGT: 25-04-2022
I’m pretty sure my family gets seasick from looking at a puddle of water… So, it was probably not in the cards that I was going sailing.
But I’ve always thought there’s something idyllic about the sea, so after joining my neighbor’s sailing ship, I decided to pursue a career at sea.
My name is Amalie Brixgaard, and I have been allowed to tell you what it is like to be an ordinary ship’s assistant at ESVAGT CAROLINE, where I sailed in the first year of my employment.
WELL PREPARED FOR THE START IN ESVAGT
I was very excited before my two-week course in ESVAGT. Naturally! And fortunately, I felt well dressed for my first day at work in the shipping company. Up until my start, I had been in contact with the shipping company’s recruitment department, who sent me information about the process. It made me feel safe.
On my first day of employment, I participated in an intro course at the head office in Esbjerg, where we got to know the shipping company better and were put in contact with several of the employees on land. At the time, I hadn’t been assigned a vessel, so I didn’t know who my Fleet Manager Crew was. But I was quickly assured that a plan was coming, so the excitement was postponed a bit for me.
During the course weeks, I was also contacted by a female mentor from ESVAGT, who was available if I had any questions here in the beginning. I actually felt very good about the start, so I didn’t use that.
And then the plan came flying into my mailbox…
Two days after completing my course, I spent 10 days on ESVAGT HEIDI. But my primary vessel was ESVAGT CAROLINE, so I’d rather tell you a little about the start there.
It was a summer day in mid-June 2022. Again very excited to start a whole new chapter, which began with a flight to Norway, from where I was to embark on my new vessel.
Already at the airport, I met some of the crew, and I fell into conversation with them early, which took the worst nerves. When we came onboard ESVAGT CAROLINE, I experienced a great companionship, and I was quickly integrated as a completely natural and permanent part of the community. It was awesome.
I was given a thorough tour of ‘my new home’ and I was well received by the deck crew. When you are new, you are filled with information, but my new colleagues were good at being available with help and sparring.
Now I was finally up and ready to go!
... BUT WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DECK OFFICER APPRENTICE IN ESVAGT?
That’s awesome! I’m at sea for four weeks, followed by just under four weeks off. So let me tell you what we do when we are at work ESVAGT – and it is important to point out that no two days are alike. The list of tasks is reasonably long, and it can also vary depending on the season.
In the winter, we will usually be indoors, and here we will paint the engine room, clean, maintain the indoor areas, check the fire extinguisher – just to name a few examples.
In the summer, we paint and remove a lot of rust so that the vessel is kept neat on the outside. In general, we also do a lot of exercises – among other things, we do exercises with the platform, where they throw a doll into the water, which we then must rescue.
The coolest task is… FRB sailing and exercises with FRB, definitely! I want to spend a lot of time sailing and become really good at it!
The less fun tasks are… Cleaning and bridge guards. That’s not what I find most fun – but it’s important tasks that need to be done.
As an ordinary ship’s assistant, the training book is also very important. I talk to the chief officer at the beginning and end of each muster. It is on my initiative to fill it out, but my colleagues are good at helping me on board.
Well, what a day looks like for me onboard an ESVAGT vessel? Take a look at the timeline – and otherwise keep reading, because it will become even greater!
Ready for the work day
FRB morning check
... BUT IS IT EVEN FUN TO BE ON BOARD?
Yes! It is. We do important work, but we also have time to socialize with colleagues and make new friendships.
Our work day typically lasts from 7.00 – 17.00, and it gives us a good opportunity to also have a social life after.
We have a small gym on board the vessel, which we use when the weather is good – because it is a bit difficult to bench press in a rocking vessel, haha… But we try to make the training something fun, so we train together and put music on or something on the TV.
On the vessel there is also a small cozy room, where we arrange movie nights or watch a series on TV – among other things, most of the crew watched Robinson every Monday evening.
Over Christmas we also saw Matador. I celebrated Christmas out here last year and it was great. Of course, I’d rather spend it with my own family, but I enjoyed a slightly different Christmas.
I had brought Christmas crafts, so we made Christmas hearts and stars, decorated the vessel, and made different advent calendars. Social life onboard is also very much about making an effort yourself.
And it’s pretty nice to have a social life that doesn’t just take place on social media. Because the internet* is an important issue for many – and I have to say that it is not as it is on land.
I have experienced that there can be delays on messages and phone connections, because the strength of the internet often depends on where you are. I also downloaded music and movies before I left, so I could hear and see it, even though the vessel didn’t have very good internet.
But otherwise it is always possible to communicate with family and friends at home. And it’s great to be able to connect with your family, because when you sign out for four weeks, you’re away from your loved ones for a long time.
It’s natural that you miss out on some things at home when you’re out, but then I like to drive around the country to all the people I’ve missed when I’m home.
You get used to it, and so do your loved ones. At least I sail for the freedom I have in the almost 4 weeks I am at home.
So when I’m at home, I see my friends and family a lot, because I think it’s important to have something to do.
On board the ship, I also like to journal to get my thoughts down on paper.
It’s quite fun to reflect on your time at sea, and I’ve written this little diary, for example, about having galley service and cooking for an entire crew.
*Since July 15th 2023 all ESVAGT vessels have been equipped with STARLINK internet. This means that you will no longer experience bad internet connection even at sea.