Help supply future mariners
November 20, 2012
Would you like to see your children, grandchildren, nieces
or nephews develop a love for ships and the sea? Maybe learn how to sail? Help
rebuild an antique marine diesel engine? Or possibly join the Sea Scouts and
learn seamanship, navigation and how to work well with others?
Yes you say? There’s a way for you to help out and it won’t
cost you a cent.
I’ve been attending a lot of meetings and conferences this
year that focused on the topic of maritime history and experiential learning.
So over the last few weeks I’ve arrived at an undeniable conclusion: Our
current way of life, and the seamanship practices of our predecessors will soon
be completely forgotten unless the money starts rolling in.
Our maritime skills, culture and history are important.
Don’t get me wrong. I think modern technology in the
maritime industry is not only fascinating, but it’s also absolutely invaluable.
Hell, if I were 10 years younger I’d be going to school to become a DP operator
or a captain of Z-drive tugs, and not solely for the money. We have some seriously
awesome tools to work with in this industry.
We are part of a rich and ever-changing maritime culture
here in the U.S. There was a time when local economies and social life was
dictated by the comings and goings of ships. Today, the majority of U.S. citizens
barely know that ports and mariners exist until something pops up in the news
(usually accidents and deaths). Modern consumers are completely disconnected
from how they get their goods, yet the shipping business continues to be a
necessity for our modern way of life. We need to remind people of the bigger
picture, the importance of shipping, where it all started and where it’s going.
Most importantly, we need to educate people that it’s a lucrative and exciting
career for the younger generations to pursue.
But let’s get back to the money. I know that everyone needs
it right now. Still, corporations make donations, be it for good PR or tax
deductions or simply for good will toward others. A lot of them donate to organizations
whose existence they may benefit from. This is simply good business. If your
company helps support an organization that brings a love for all things
maritime to youth ashore, many of these young people will eventually pursue
jobs in the workboat industry.
It’s not you and me that should be donating money to our
favorite maritime preservation organizations (though it wouldn’t hurt). But in
order for these groups to survive and thrive, they have to be connected with
money and the people that can find the money.
Find a program in your region that supports youth and
families getting out on the water, and teaches them the basics of seamanship
and navigation. Or maybe you have a favorite maritime museum. Next, email the
people in charge of corporate charity donations and sing the praises of your preferred
Whether you love them or not, each maritime company is like
a family, and families work best when everyone is happy. Let them know that it’s
important to you to see current and retired mariners valued for their skills
and time in service, and that we can only create a culture of mariner
appreciation by supporting our community’s efforts to preserve maritime history
and teach seamanship to our youth.
Most Americans, especially our youth, don’t realize that the
start of a regular workday could mean stepping into the wheelhouse of a giant
ship in the middle of the ocean or a tug towing a barge.
I recently heard a mariner say that youth today are only
interested in video games and Facebook. But many of today’s youth have
brilliant, underused minds. They either don’t know what opportunities are out
there, or haven’t had an inspiring hands-on experience to spark their interest.
By supporting local groups that specialize in this will open up a whole new world
to thousands of directionless young adults.