Life at sea during COVID-19. Personal stories: Patrick

June 25, 2020

RT Magic, Nacala, Mozambique, since March 2.

“I’d just returned from a skiing holiday when I came on board of the RT MAGIC, here in the harbor of Nacala, Mozambique. When I see pictures of people outside on the terraces now, having a drink in the sun, I realise how much time has passed. It was Winter when I left the Netherlands, and it’s already Summer now. It’s a weird feeling, as if the world here has been at a standstill.
I’d been on board for two weeks when it became clear that it would be hard for us to leave. A week later we had a crew change. It was a close call, the crew was very lucky they got home. I stayed on board, as I hadn’t come to my four weeks yet. But after that all options to leave were gone really.
At first it’s a matter of adjusting your mindset. We knew it was going to be a long stay, so we set our minds to two months, maximum three. After three months we’d be home, we thought. It’s been three and a half months now. We’re starting to long for home. It’s at the front of our minds, we take it with us to sleep and it’s right there when we wake up.

Workwise we’re doing fine. We’re still working, seven days a week. The only thing that has changed at work since Corona is that we’re not allowed to leave the ship anymore. We’re a crew of three, there is a ship next to us that has a crew of three too, so we’re six in total. Sometimes we have barbeques together, but mostly we keep ourselves to ourselves. It’s part of culture on board, I guess. In the evening when it’s quiet and we’re not called on duty, I often watch a movie on the sofa downstairs. My two colleagues watch their own movies in their cabins. I don’t want to force them to watch a movie together, if they like to be by themselves, then that’s fine. But it does add to the loneliness, I guess.

The weekends are the hardest. Life has pretty much been picked up at home, and on Saturdays and Sundays my friends and family go out and about to enjoy themselves. I am happy for them, but it makes me realize even more that we’re stuck here. Still though, I wouldn’t change my job in a million years.
In a few days I might be going home. I try not to hope too much as we have been disappointed before. Twice we got really close to organizing a flight home, but then they got cancelled. That’s hard. You start to hope and see that there is an opportunity to go home, and then it falls through. Kotug has organized a charter flight and it is now waiting for the landing rights in Mozambique.
I can’t wait to drive my car. I bought a new car before I came to Mozambique and I haven’t been able to drive it yet. When I come home, that’s the first thing I am going to do. After hugging my girlfriend of course. Then I am going to enjoy my brandnew kitchen, I haven’t seen that yet either.”

Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies. The Day of the Seafarer 2020 pays tribute to seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the issues they face. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions.  We want to contribute to the awareness by showing the world portraits of KOTUG seafarers, as a tribute to all seafarers that keep the Kotug operations running and for whom we have a deep respect. This is the story of Patrick van de Klooster, Captain on the RT Magic and since March 2nd in Nacala, Mozambique. We do everything we can to get crew changes arranged and therefore support initiatives like the campaign of the IMO to create awareness for this ongoing situation. Help spreading the word by using the hashtag #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers.