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Friday, 2 April 2010

A Retired Engineer

How more satisfying life is now that I've retired from Marine Engineering.

When I first went to sea we had to work a watch system, day in, day out. If you were unfortunate to be appointed to the "12 to 4", this meant that you had little or no social life. Midday to 4pm and Midnight to 4 am was a killer. Bearing in mind that in those days the work/leave ratio was 9 months ship/3 months leave. By the end of the 9 months you were nigh on barking.

Things did change for the better later on when the leave ratio to appointment time reduced to 4 months on and two months off. (Before someone comes in and says that's a fantastic leave ratio. Don't forget the working hours were 10 hours a day, seven days a week. And bank holidays).

By this time ships were becoming highly automated and watchkeeping had gone by the board. The machinery spaces could be left unattended during the night time. Sounds good doesn't it? But no. Every three days you would become the Duty Engineer and were responsible for the whole works for a 24 hour period.

That could be hell. Imagine doing your 10 hour day and then being on call for the rest of the 24 hour period. Trying to sleep, hoping the machinery alarm box in your cabin was not going to scream at you at 2am. Knowing you only had 3 minutes to get up, get dressed, and get to the control room to acknowledge the alarm. If you failed it got every man jack out of bed to look for you in case you were injured.

And of course you were expected to have expertise in all disciplines and be able to fix anything. (Including 30mm weapons, General purpose machine guns.Sa80's,etc, as a sideline.) Oh. And Officer in charge of a fire brigade bigger than most Towns have.)

This was never meant to be a moan. Just telling it how it is.

Now I don't have to work to any regime apart from my own. Get up when I want, blog when I want, read the paper when I want, etc.

I am at last free.

Except for the Bloody state of course.

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