WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Service to Seafarers

WelCom July 2019:

Jeff Drane

Two Napier ship visitors Ben Revel (l) and Mike Eagle (r) with crew member in port. Photo: Zachary Jeffers

Sea Sunday occurs on 14 July this year and it is a good time to remember the dedicated volunteers and workers in the ports of Wellington and Napier. Twelve Wellingtonians of whom four are ship visitors in Wellington devote their time to serving the needs of seafarers and fishers when they arrive at Centreport. There are eight volunteers in Napier and two have pioneered ship visiting in Port of Napier. Stella Maris work in collaboration with their Anglican equivalent Mission to Seafarers and with Maritime New Zealand and Maritime Union of NZ.

These devoted volunteers in both ports are especially busy when cruise season starts in October and goes through to April. Last year there were 110 cruise ships in Wellington; next year there will be 120. Crew on these huge liners are helped mostly by accessing free

Wi-Fi to be in touch with their families. In the last year in Wellington 372 ships were visited, there were 12 hospital visits, four hotel visits, two airport visits and 352 crew got transported to have their needs met.

Ship visitor Romeo Apache visiting crew in the Wellington port. Photo: Romeo Apache

Other remarkable services are provided, and many stories can be told such as in the past year when a captain was borrowing money against the crew’s wages and there was a lack of shore leave and infestation problems on board. The volunteers got Maritime NZ to insist US$30,000 be spent to improve conditions before the ship was allowed to depart from Napier. Without volunteer intervention things would have got worse.

Next year with increased traffic in port, two to three more volunteers will be required. Anyone interested in ship visiting or staffing the seafarers centre is invited to call national director Jeff Drane on 027 492 0250. All you need is the willingness to help and a few hours to spare. Training and support is guaranteed.