I was born in
Barcelona in Spain, a truly maritime city with one of the busiest ports in
Europe and I have always been fascinated by ships since I can remember. In my
youth, I read all type of books that refer to ships: novels, adventure stories,
seafaring manuals, technical publications, etc. And since I was a child, all my
drawings were of ships.
As soon as I
discovered the Maritime Museum of Barcelona and the nautical academy, I had all
the ingredients to turn what I saw as my vocation into a profession. And I’ve
been so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of the maritime
profession both at sea and ashore.
In my twenties, I
started my professional career on board different types of merchant vessels as
a cadet moving to officer and graduating as captain at 26. I also served as
lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.
The longest single
crossing I remember is 18 days from the Gulf of Mexico to Northern Europe in
severe bad weather. At that time I use to spend four months on two months off,
sailing internationally. For a few days,
the ship was unable to advance and all crew was in standby. However risky and
difficult, I remember that crossing also gave me the opportunity to admire the
beauty of the brave seas.
I enjoyed every moment
of my life at sea as well as the opportunity that the seafaring profession gave
me to travel the world from a different perspective than simple tourism. While
at sea, free time was normally very limited, but in port, I always enjoyed
visiting the different cities and engaging with local culture, events, and
experiences. But the lack of
communications on board and the difficulty to communicate with family and
friends from remote parts of the world were some of the hardest conditions I
I have memories of my
visits to Stella Maris facilities in different ports of the world. When as a
young officer, I had an urgent need to contact my family in Spain while I was
at sea. When I arrived in port, a chaplain took me to the local Stella Maris
centre, where I could have access to a telephone landline. This was of course
well before mobile phones and today’s web-based applications had been developed.
I spent some 10 years
seafaring before starting a maritime career ashore. I then become a ship safety
inspector and latter a vessel traffic system operator before being promoted to
the position of harbour master. I was appointed in 2000 to represent Spain to
the International Maritime Organization becoming later to -what I call- a
“maritime diplomat”, serving both at a national level and within the United
Nations system, working in different capacities with the specialized maritime
I became a trustee of Stella
Maris because I felt I could contribute to caring for the welfare of seafarers,
fishermen, and their families, while at the same time promoting its good name,
mission, and values. The opportunity appeared to combine my maritime background
with my international experience.
Stella Maris chaplains
are the arm around the shoulder of a seafarer grieving a colleague, the
friendly face who turns up on board to welcome them to our ports, the ones
facilitating endless phone-calls when they feel homesick helping them to
overcome stress or mental problems. Stella Maris chaplains provide a home away
from home when seafarers are abandoned or sick in hospital. And of course, our
chaplains offer pastoral care and assistance when required by those on board
after so many months at sea. I am so proud of their work and dedication, and
will continue supporting them in any way I can.