Thus far, one of the most significant changes in my job this year has been that we no longer get much shore access in the 4 weeks we're on board.
While this is not a big deal in and of itself, we don't have cold storage for 4 weeks of grub. I mean, after a week, which is the time limit for about as much fresh stuff as we can store, I can eat dry goods and frozen foods, I suppose, although it's pert near impossible to do so in a healthy way. Food is morale, as every sailor knows.
Shore access was the jewel on the crown when I started working in brown water sailing. Being able to change the scenery, get away from routine makes for a much more pleasant work environment.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the area where I work is oversaturated with equipment, and the response my employer chose to tighter carriage rates was to decrease lay time by laying up some barges, which means we work more hours per month with cargo than before, which makes sense financially. The downside is that there is less time for maintenance and painting and such, but we get by OK and part of my employer's strategy has been to keep newer tonnage to reduce downtime from maintenance issues. End result has been a more efficient fleet I think, but there's no damn berths open to get ashore, which makes getting fresh grub a logistical exercise.
Now, as far as such things go, this is manageable. It's definitely come at a cost, but having a paycheck is nice, and if the cost of doing business gets too high, people will vote with their feet anyhow. We're managing.
What got me thinking about this was that this week has been exceptional. We had TWO daylight sessions with shore access at a real lay berth! I got to go for two long-ass (9 mile) walks, and get groceries and generally just not be a lump for two afternoons, and it was great.
That used to be normal, but you know, I appreciate it a lot more now. Hell, it made Brooklyn a lot more pleasant to walk through, too.