Psychology Survey for International Sailors

Good evening mariners. My name is Greg Pentz, a psychologist looking to study the effects that shore leave has on crew members serving on board international tankers in the merchant marine.

More specifically, I am interested in examining the effects on people’s sense of identity from being exposed to cultures all around the world for such short periods of time. If it’s not too much trouble, could any of you merchant mariners out there tell me about your experiences during shore leave? Have you ever felt culture shock or were you perhaps comfortable in whichever port you found yourself in? There are no wrong answers.

Thank you for your time and I appreciate any help I might receive in my research.

Only those on tankers?? They hardly have any shore leave. Loading at Offshore terminals and discharging at another remote location hardly give much opportunity to mingle with the locals.

Not much better for any other types of ships either. Time in port is short and busy for most ships these days.

Maybe you should study those who travel on group tours, or on cruise ships. At least they get to interact with the locals, if ever so briefly.

Tankers and any other international merchant workers really.

Most international sailors rarely get much shore leave anymore. Container ships, RO/RO, tankers, all turn around too fast. Tanker terminals especially also have heightened security these days and discourage shore leave, especially in the US where it’s basically impossible to get ashore.

Ask the people from MSC.

Ships and times have changed, less time in port, etc. But those who do or did get shore leave usually spend their time chasing girls, taking the edge off with a libation, or buying a few souvenirs. If anything is an eye opener it usually stems from the poverty of the area.

Where are you visiting, US ports only???

My first trip to Mainland China as a deck cadet was a real eye opener. Between the World Wars, Shanghai was considered the Paris of the Far East; a place full of fun and frivolity. Of the 100 or so countries I have visited, in none of them was there such a big difference between preconceived anticipation and reality. After a 35 day Pacific crossing from Chile with a cargo of fertilizer, we arrived in Qingdao on 1 October 1964. First of all, security was quite intimidating. While approaching the port, we were instructed to cover all the compasses and turn off the radar, because the Chinese Government was afraid we would take bearings of navigation markers and forward our findings to the American CIA. We were pretty flabbergasted about this paranoia.
Ashore we noticed extreme poverty. To our sorrow as mariners, women were virtually undistinguishable from men, because they all wore the same blue Mao suits full of patches. The more patches, the better Communist you were. Soap and toothpaste had been banned, because these articles were considered “Western Decadent Bourgeoisie.” Very few roads were paved and most people walked, due to lack of bikes. Only high government officials could use cars. The only paint you saw on buildings were red party slogans.
Anyway, the first impression of China was far from the Shangri La we sailors had expected. However, on the same day (1 October 1964, the 15 year anniversary of the Communist Revolution) it was announced that China has recently detonated their first atomic bomb. We were dumbstruck by so many diverging impressions.

The majority of foreign ports I’ve gotten shore leave in are impoverished. You’ve been out of shipping for a very long while.