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Did it really take a big study to work out all that about shift patterns (Seafarer fatigue: the weary weight of evidence, March 2024)? Any seafarer could have told you that. 6 on/6 off is a killer, only a few can adapt to it. 12 on / 12 off is fine, 4 on / 8 off is better, and the best I ever worked was 8 on / 16 off, plus of course field days when required. Trip lengths are another killer, and modern partners are not happy losing their other half for months at a time to Mistress Sea.

Deep sea was the 4/8 and offshore was the 12/12, but the money was better and in port it was day work or 4/8. Unfortunately, 12/12 became the norm at sea or in port to compensate for having fewer crew members and maintain a decent standard of vessel.

Conditions have gone downhill badly from their heyday, when you got port time where you could get ashore to unwind and just see other people. Now it's a mad rush to do maintenance and deal with makers men, shore side reps and surveyors before you go back out.

We have the internet now as opposed to three-month-old letters, which is an improvement, but the bar has gone. Was drinking important? Not to most, but the social side of it was – the unwinding from the job and talking things over played a big part in normalising us. Team building seems to be an 'in thing'; well, more team spirit was built there than on any training course. It was also where newer crew members learned a lot from the general chit chat. Now it's the flickering screen in the cabin with the handover for interaction with another human.

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