Wake up call on Mariners health

I don’t want to jump the gun, but I assume this was a heart attack. Resulted in the Captains death while on watch in the river. This is one of the most unhealthy industries I know and overweight has become the norm in the inland industry.

To call this a wake up call on mariners health is to assume regulatory authorities and owners have just been taking a nap for the last few decades.

There will always be doctors that will pencil whip mariners’ medical cert. I remember a Chief Mate I worked with who must have weighed 350 lbs and would be panting every time she showed up to the wheelhouse. She also smelled real bad either because she didn’t shower or couldn’t. How she passed the physical was beyond me.

I dont know. With a large enough sample someone will always have a heart attack. Its the leading cause of death in north America after all. Plus the most common symptom of heart disease is sudden death with no warning. So it would be tough/nigh impossible to catch every case before it happens. The system as it is currently, works well enough. We’d only run into a law of demising returns thing if we increase regulatory pressure.

About 20 years ago I was on an AHTS in the Gulf of Mexico for a brief period of time. There was a fully licensed captain on there that stood a watch but was so overweight and in such bad physical condition he did not come to the galley but about twice a week. The steps were too difficult for him. He was also functionally illiterate. He stood a watch but often fell asleep. I complained to the captain on record who was responsible for the vessel and he said," The guy passed his physical. The physical was made by the company doctor and the guy in question is friends of the owner."
I told him I didn’t feel real comfortable when I came on the bridge at night found the guy was alone and asleep while we are barreling across the Gulf of Mexico on autopilot. Thankfully the captain of record put an AB on watch with the other “captain.” Later the overweight captain had to be evacuated due to congestive heart failure. I left that outfit shortly thereafter but later found out he came back after his heart failure, passed the company physical but likely wouldn’t get another USCG physical. As one person said to me,“You got to remember it’s a different country down there. It’s like third world.”


Virtually everyone over the age of 50 has some degree of coronary artery plaque. Especially with a Western lifestyle and diet. My husband who is of normal weight and worked a vigorous outdoor job recently went to the hospital with chest pain and emerged with two grafted coronary arteries. Now, his diet was careless- lots of cheap carbs especially when I was out to sea so both of us are now eating healthier with less sugar and simple carbs. Lots more veggies and we use the backyard grill daily. I am splurging on an air fryer.

When at sea I tend to gravitate toward salads and grilled stuff- eat worse at home. This was a wakeup call for both of us.


If the USCG were actually concerned about mariners’ health, the first thing it would do is increase crew sizes to reduce fatigue and stress.

It’s seems obvious, that people with high risk factors for heart disease, like smoking and obesity, should be required to have more frequent and more thorough medical screenings.

If someone is over 50, 350 lbs., and smokes, their physical should probably include a stress EKG and an angiogram. Yet, the USCG does not even require basic blood labs, like a lipid panel.

If a Mariner wants to exercise his right to weigh 350 lbs, smoke two packs a day, chew, etc, then he needs to accept the responsibility to pay for additional medical tests (that may save his life) in order to renew his license. Choosing to be unhealthy and a risk to the rest of us should come at an extra cost.


Sad thing is those old boys who are over 50, morbidly obese and sucking down cigs would fight you hand-to-hand for the right to stay fat, diabetic, and smoking 2 packs a day.


“Its muh right to live this way” :roll_eyes:

only works when you pay for your own health, if you had a national health scheme the gov would be getting involved

I just wonder what your animal fat intake was then, like cheese milk etc?
I have heard more than once from doctors thats where the plaque comes from.

The other small thing we can all do it fast for a few days that fixes lots of stuff ( fatty liver) but really does good after about 5 days if your aim is to lose weight.
I find when i do a long haul flight I so jet lagged up I lose appetite, just have a fruit juice or something in the morning, drink water and adults can go a long time with not much else.

Judging from the obituaries in the union paper it looks like the mariners are “crossing the final bar” at an older age than the average American.

Does anyone have any actual data?

Whenever I work 6 hours on 6 hours off for long periods of time I find that my body weight just explodes.

One factors is that there is no time to go the gym (if the ship even has a gym). Also sleep deprivation screws up a bodies metabolism and increases appetite. It’s a double whammy, you feel the urge to eat more, and due to metabolism problems you put on more weight than you would if you ate the same amount of food if non sleep deprived.

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ILO Guidelines for Medical Examinations of Seafarers:

MLC’06 medical certification requirement for seafarers:

I heard of a seafarer that had a BMI above the limit for passing a medical, to pass their medical they would stop drinking any liquids and dehydrate themselves a few days before the day of their medical so that their BMI would be under the limit on the day. A bit of a dangerous thing to do. Obviously BMI is not always accurate, as people who are very muscular could have a high BMI but still be healthy, this person was just fat not muscular.

Only the most interesting/likable sailors are noted there. I am sure there are a lot of folks who kick the bucket and get nothing more than a passing comment. Common sense would say that the cryonic stress and exposure to chemicals would have a detrimental effect.

In many (most?) newspapers, it’s those who had survivors willing to pay for the expanded obituary.

Also, disagreeable and/or boring persons who weren’t mariners are also not noted there. So do you have any evidence that disagreeable/boring landlubbers live longer than tedious and grumpy mariners?

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6 and 6 should be illegal, oh wait it is everywhere in the world except…


overweight people almost always die younger so if mariners make a bigger percentage of overweight then they die younger than the average.

I think the less notable just get a joined in nineteen dickey two and last sailed as third mate on the M/V Big Rock Candy Mountain.