Final Saltie of 2012
On December 19, Seafarer Volunteers made their final visit to the final Saltie ship of the season here in the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI. The Federal Sakura, built in 2005 and registered in Panama, is over 620′ long, over 75′ wide and nearly 50′ tall according to BoatNerd.com, a website which lists salties that have entered the Great Lakes. You can find info on many ships that have been in the Twin Ports during the 2012 season on BoatNerd.com.
The Federal Sakura left Duluth shortly after the Volunteers visited on December 19, around late afternoon/early evening. You can track the Federal Sakura‘s progress through the Great Lakes and the Locks at BoatNerd.com’s Saltie’s Positions page or you can see an interactive map of current ship positions at MarineTraffic.com.
While in port, Seafarer Volunteers were able to deliver many helpful things to the mariners on-board. Thanks to many donated hours of work and items, there was a Christmas gift filled with a warm, hand knit hat and scarf for each mariner, along with personal items that it is hard for mariners to get, such as shaving razors, shampoo, and other personal car products. Mariners also have the opportunity through the Seafarers Center to purchase cheap phone cards to use with the Center’s cellphones to call their friends and family back home. Some baked cookies and candies were also donated to be brought to the Federal Sakura. The mariners were very appreciative of these gifts from the Center. It means a lot to them to be able to contact their families using the quality, yet cheap phone connections that the Center and it’s many donors are able to provide. The mariners are always very gracious to Volunteers from Seafarers Centers all over the world, and will always offer coffee or snacks, and occasionally lunch as they did on the Federal Sakura! Filipino food, yummy!
The Center also offers transport services for marines to get off of the ship, to either go into town to make necessary purchases, or to visit the Center to use the internet or have time alone to meditate, think or pray. Many thanks go to our Volunteers who sacrifice their time to transport the mariners around town or to the Center to make their lives more comfortable during their journey. Also thanks to our Donors and grant writers who helped us to get a new van in which to transport the mariners.
While on board, we had a chance to sit down and chat with the Chief Officer of the ship, Cesar C. Gojoco. Cesar, along with the rest of the crew, is from the Philippines.
Cesar has been a mariner since 1996, and has worked with the same company for all of those years. He is a father of two boys, the oldest is 6 years, the youngest is 8 months. He is typically away from home for 8 months at a time, and then is at home for 3-5 months, depending on the company’s needs. He just started this most recent 8 month journey about 4 weeks before arriving in the Twin Ports. Cesar says that he and the other men on the ship really appreciate when the Seafarers Volunteers bring the cell phones and phone cards onto the ship for the men to use and buy. He says that they have a satellite phone on the ship, but it costs $25 for just under 40 minutes to call home, whereas with the phone cards they can call the Philippines for $5 for just under 40 minutes! The phone cards definitely allow the mariners a little more freedom to speak with their families at a leisurely pace, which is especially welcome around the holidays. Cesar said they also appreciate that the Center is willing to drive the mariners to the mall, because goods in the US are not as expensive as Canada or other places so they can buy things like small electronics or clothing. When the Volunteers transport the mariners to the Seafarers Center, the marines can use the free Wi-Fi that the Center provides to Skype chat with their families also, which is something else that Cesar said they all truly appreciate! This is especially important for Cesar, because for the past 5 years he has been on the ship during Christmas, and has been unable to celebrate with his family.
We are very thankful we had a chance to speak with Cesar, and all of the crew of the Federal Sakura. The marines are looking forward to opening their gifts on Christmas, under the Christmas Tree and decorations that their company has kindly provided to make the common quarters look more festive. We wish the Federal Sakura and her crew the best of luck as they head to Montreal, and then onward to Turkey!
Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you for your continued support!