Sunday, 17 January 2010

Never a dull moment in the Purser's office...

For nearly four weeks now I have been the acting Assistant Purser on the Mercy Ship. This is while my friend and coworker Tim, the current Assistant Purser, and his wife Hannah take a well-earned break. So what does the Assistant Purser do on the Africa Mercy?

My day starts at around 08h00 with a Bible reading and prayer with Rob, the Purser (although for the last ten or so days he has been on vacation too so it has just been me in the office - but I still start the day with a chapter from the Bible and a prayer). I then start the day by doing the embarkations and disembarkations. This is a process wherein I ensure that all the arriving crew from the previous day are captured in the system, and that those who have left have been correctly disembarked by Reception.

I am in charge of the Article sheet and assign crew members "articles". It is a requirement of maritime law that all crew on a ship sign articles - a contract that means the Captain is responsible for the crew member during their service onboard. This information is fed from our database so therefore it is important that I get the correct dates for crew arriving and departing.

I also receive arrival and departure notices for crew throughout the day and ensure that their names are on the Arrivals and Departures list and if necessary, I book out a ship's vehicle and make sure the relevant department assigns a driver to fetch or drop them off. There are also constant queries from crew to answer and e-mails to reply to, so there is always something on the go in the office.

My busiest days are Monday and Tuesday. Monday I play catch-up from the weekend - doing the embarks and debarks from Friday, Saturday and Sunday (which can take a while if it was a busy weekend), and then Tuesday is "List" day. I e-mail crew lists to various people and update the lists on the Mercy Ships intranet, Navigator. I also update the emergency muster sheets around the ship - which can take quite a while, especially if we are preparing to sail and there are In-Port and At-Sea muster sheets to go out. I also hand short-term and long-term crew lists to Reception, as well as updated muster lists for the alphabetical boards located there.

I'm looking forward to Tim coming back so I can be back helping in Reception, but it has been a good and challenging time for me being here - and it's always good experience to learn another role. So anyway, that's just a little slice of what I do here in the Purser's office. Acting Assistant Purser Out!

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