I’ve been a ship visitor with Stella Maris in Leith for about 13 years.
When it was advertised in the church Newsletter for volunteers, it was obvious to me that I should respond.
All my life I have been surrounded by seafarers – my uncle, three cousins, the fathers of two childhood friends – and it seemed very natural that I did in time marry a ship’s engineer.
I see my role as simply to let the seafarers know that the Church has not forgotten them and that there are people out there who care about them.
So I carry rosary beads to give them but also sweeties (all seafarers seem to like chocolate) and glossy magazines for the young women on the ships.
People ask me what qualities are required to make a good ship’s visitor and I don’t really have an answer.
All I can say is that if you go aboard with no other thought but to let the crew know that you are concerned for their well-being and are ready to listen, it will show in your manner and you will be well-received.
If a seafarer was in distress, I would stay with them as long as I could but contact the Port Chaplain who could give more support.
After a visit, I always light a candle in church for the ship’s crew.
One story does stand out; a crew eventually got paid after six months thanks to our chaplain working with the authorities to get them their wages. We were on our way to arrange transfer of the cash to their families and they were going home in the next few days. I was just there as a witness but it was great to be part of the joy.