A Question of Survival

Proverbs 16:25 

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

A cadet is the lowest form of human life on a Merchant ship. Chief officers love cadets because they can give them the jobs that no one else wants to do. And that is how I came to find myself with needle and sewing palm, tasked with repairing the canvas covers to the lifeboats on one old ship. It was my second trip to sea. The other cadet was on his first trip. He still held the opinion that he knew better than those who had been around much longer than he had. Somehow he persuaded me that instead of laboriously using sail twine to sew patches of canvas onto the lifeboat cover we could glue them. We weren’t visible to anyone because we were working in the fo’c’sle, so by gluing patches onto the covers we were soon finished. That freed time to lounge around, have a smoke, have a brew, and idle the time away.

I don’t remember details of the punishment inflicted on us by the chief officer. I know that we had to continue stitching rather than sticking patches onto the covers in our free time. The way that seemed right to us did not result in death, but it is never pleasant being on the receiving end of a chief officer’s anger, especially when you are a cadet. While lifeboat covers may seem fairly insignificant the purpose of the covers was to protect the boats that we might have to use to escape from a sinking ship. It was necessary to ensure that the boats were well maintained and kept ready for such an event. Thankfully I have never had to use a lifeboat, but I have been involved in the rescue of two yachtsmen whose liferaft failed to inflate bringing them close to the point where failure to maintain emergency equipment very nearly cost them their lives.

Our world is full of people who think that they know best. Unfortunately, most of us think we know better than God. He gives us the freedom to choose. The choice is simple: Follow God or follow men. Choose life or choose death.

About David

David: Half Scot, grew up in Guernsey and the UK. Lives in one of the most rural counties of the UK not far from the Welsh border. Father of Nick who encouraged David to start blogging. Married to Marilyn for 40+ years. Four other children in addition to Nick. Eight grandchildren. Former Merchant Navy officer now getting closer and closer to retirement. View all posts by David

2 responses to “A Question of Survival

  • Men of One Accord

    David, You have returned a memory to me for I had worked my way up through the merchant marines to master. One day two of my cadets were to be cleaning my bull works, as I walked by I was not happy with the job they had preformed. I Called the third mate over, Mr. Ellier you have signed papers with me for three years now, Do you not remember how I like my Ship cleaned? Shall I get Mr. Robinson to re-instruct you on the cleaning of my vessel? Of course he said no sir, then I went on saying I trust that I shall not be disappointed again and shall not be forced to speak of this again. I walk away and I could hear the readjustment in cadets cleaning habits to my standards.

    • David

      I reached the dizzy heights of 2nd mate before coming ashore, but managed one trip as mate later on. I also worked as a hydrographic survey after studying ashore at university. I didn’t realise you were also an old sea dog – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at sea. Sadly the times I remember are long gone. I still get the monthly newspaper published by the UK officers union and keep up with the news. A few years ago we had a thirty-year reunion from our second mates class – only one was still serving at sea, one was a pilot, there were a couple of surveyors. Interesting!

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