A person putting out to sea will most certainly encounter rough seas. Hurricanes are common. A foreign-going ship travels in all kinds of weather and seasons. The most severe sea conditions occur during the winter months. Below is an essay on the experiences of a seaman on board a foreign-going ship:

toothache, tooth extraction

rolling and pitching can be put to good use

For all its sophistication, the ship is still a floating object in the vast ocean. It is subjected to the waves and the winds. The most commonly encountered movements of a ship are the rolling and pitching movements. Rolling can even occur during mild weather. Rolling is a rotational motion of a ship about the longitudinal axis, while pitching is in the transverse axis. In more severe weather, all kinds of movements are encountered. Heaving in the vertical movement, Swaying in the transverse movement, Surging in the fore and aft movement. There is also the Yawing, or rotational movement about the vertical axis. Very often, all of these movements come together. No wonder people get seasick!

Some experienced seamen still gets seasick during severe weather. They lose their appetite for food. They know they have to take some food to sustain their energy. Some take sour fruit juices. For a new cadet, it feels terrible. However, once the weather becomes calmer, the seasickness automatically disappears. However, there are some sea sick pills that can give relief to motion sickness prone people.

waves, sea, ocean, strong wind, typhoon,

Huge waves are normal during the course of a voyage especially during winter

Winter season is when the big waves come. Waves as high as 50 feet are found in the North Pacific Ocean during the winter months. During those times, the sea and sky become grey in color. At times visibility is reduced. The distance between crest to crest can be around 100 feet. Imagine a ship of about 600 feet length. You can only see from 5 to 6 crests of giant waves supporting the ship.

During those time, with the strong wind blowing against the ship, it will not be surprising to find that the position of the ship has not move very much in one day. Of course, during bad weather, the engines have to be slowed down. The pitching of the ship causes the propeller at the back of a ship to move up and down with the ship. The propellers encounter strong resistance in deep waters and little resistance when it moves towards the water surface. The engine that drives the propeller automatically senses the different loads and adjusts its speed accordingly. Bringing the engine speed down reduces the fluctuations in the controls.

Maneuvering the ship during heavy weather

Maneuvering the ship during heavy weather

In the engine room, the boiler water level sight glass is duplicated and sensors are positioned in the fore and aft locations so as not to be influenced by rolling movements. However, during heavy weather, all sorts of level alarms will sound – fuel tank levels, bilge levels, water levels, boiler water levels, lubrication oil levels, and so on. The other gages in the engine control room may also fluctuate. Speeds of engine, turbochargers, and pressure of lubricating pumps.

Elsewhere in the engine room, the engineer on duty may detect that the fuel oil pressure is dropping. The movement of the ship has stirred up all the settlement from the bottom of the fuel oil tank and the dirt has gone to choke up the fuel oil filters.

The steering gear room is a hive of activity. The rudder is being slammed by the waves outside. The rudder often drifts away from the required angle and has to be brought back. The steering rams, hydraulic pumps, and hunting levers are very busy doing their work. Sounds of slamming of waves against the hull can be heard all around the steering gear. Despite the activities, the room feels cold.

Strong winds can blow a person overboard

Strong winds can blow a person overboard

Sometimes, personnel in the engine room get a surprise. Hail stones, the size of small pebbles get sucked through the ventilators and get blown into the engine room. The engine room itself is cold. Engine room personnel gets warm by staying near to warm equipment.

Up above on the bridge, the Navigating Officer and AB stand like Japanese Daruma Dolls, standing on one spot, swaying with the ship but not toppling over. Nothing much to do, but to look out. Not expecting to see anything unusual, being in the middle of a large ocean. In this weather, all deck activities are stopped. The winds can blow a person off the icy and slippery deck.

More about Hurricanes and Typhoons.