After battling sea for nine years, it's time to move on. That's what I told myself when I first stepped ashore to search for a land job. The decision was not made on spur of a moment but after much thought and soul searching.
While I was working aboard ship, many of us talked about working ashore some day. I heard people saying they were quitting and then much later, I would find them on another ship. My conclusion -- many have tried to quit, but very few have succeeded.
Whenever I see older seamen on my ship, I feel a bit of pity for them. I can feel their frustrations. And I know exactly what they will face over coming six to nine months.
They will face rigors of sea and extreme climatic conditions, such as huge waves, strong winds, icy cold and hot weather, boredom and loneliness when nothing much happens, seasickness and insomnia when encountering heavy weather for weeks on end, and of course, missing home and family as well as missing out on many other things that a normal life can offer.
But it's not really a bad life at all if you are still young. It's a life that can offer many exciting experiences and adventures, a lot of traveling, and sightseeing in places that can be far off normal tourist routes. It can be a very satisfying experience. I still have fond memories of my experiences while working on board ship.
When I first started sailing, I collected souvenirs from all countries that I visited. After a while, these started collecting dust and I had to get rid of them. Furthermore, I found that some of these souvenirs were actually made in other countries.
That made me decide to take photographs as my souvenirs. I now have almost 3,000 colour slides of my travels.
What can I do with these? Well, some of images have been accepted by a stock photo agency, but this is just a small portion of my collection.
I was seriously into photography at that time and even bought an expensive SLR camera with a set of interchangeable lenses so that I could take good quality photographs. I even sold a few photographs to some magazines during that time.
When I realised that my photographs were being published to support articles in magazines, I started to take up writing.
After that my articles were published in local newspapers and magazines. But that was a very long time ago when computers were practically unknown.
Even after I quit sea, my experiencees on board ship made a lasting impression on me. I still wanted to explore new places. I was fascinated by computers when they made their debut in 1987. These had 80286 processor, I remember.
A colleague taught me how to use Lotus 1-2-3 software and I was delighted with what I could do with it. I was able to created graphs with this WYSIWYG program.
But computers were expensive and not very affordable at that time. I still had to hammer on keys of my trusty portable typewriter to produce any work.
I moved on to other jobs later, but my fascination with computers continued. Being an engineer, I was very much interested in creating engineering piping diagrams. I learned to do AutoCAD drawings that were very much better than ones I had to do during my college days with pencil, T-square, eraser and paper.
Later on when I was introduced to Internet, my interest practically shot right through ceiling. There was so much information available. At about that time, I decided to build a boat for myself. (It was a dream that I had been keeping in my head since time I took up sailing during my college days.) So I began to search Internet and discovered how other people built boats. The whole project took about three months of research and manual labour.
The result was a custom-built kayak that was carefully crafted for speed, manoeuvrability, portability, and durability. And specially built to suit my weight and length of my legs.