An interview with an Ordinary Seaman

March 26, 2018
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Meet Ricardo Javier Finol Soto! Ricardo is an Ordinary Seaman from Venezuela in his first year as a seafarer and is studying for a master’s degree in his spare time. His crew is like his family and he teaches them English on board. We chatted to Ricardo about life as a seafarer.

What is your job on board and what does it involve?

Actually I am working as an Ordinary Seaman and an English teacher! But I am a lawyer with degrees in Maritime Law and a Maritime Student. My routine on board is teaching English to my Venezuelan friends because Maritime according to IMO is maritime language and I work in maintenance, paint, and clean vessels.

How long is a typical voyage, and how long do you spend at home in between voyages?

Normally 2 or 3 months (60-90 days) is a typical voyage. Around 1 or 2 months (30 – 60 days) [is spent at home].

How long have you been working as a seafarer?

9 months, I am young! I am 23 years old.

What made you decide to become a seafarer?

First, my grandfather and my father are marine merchant, it was the principal reason, but Venezuela, my first country, is a maritime country, and the place where I was born is Maracaibo [which] has a big Lake with a lot of petroleum, so I live in a Maritime city too. These reasons invite me to support maritime area. And I want it, I want to continue studying and of course sailing.

What do you enjoy most about working at sea?

First the silence, and how you can find peace observing the sea. Other thing is that you work in a group who is your maritime family; because I consider that the crew is a family that you don’t know.

Ricardo Javier Finol Soto 2

Ricardo (front row, second from left) teaching his Venezuelan crewmates English (photo: Instagram)

And what do you find most challenging?

Stay on board for months. Because you have to spend time working or making different things, change routines, etc.

What do you like to do in your free time on board?

Well I am studying a master’s degree in Management, so in my free time I am studying by distance learning. Also, I go to the gym, if I can find a guitar I play it or read articles or news.

What has been your biggest achievement at sea?

I consider that is to stay for 110 days on board and celebrate my birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and other special dates.

What advice would you give to a seafarer about to embark on their first voyage?

Seafarers [are] a family. Sea is a place to grow up as a father, as a son, as a husband, is an opportunity to demonstrate our forces.

Do you have anything else you would like to share about life at sea?

Today life at sea is different; we have internet access, so you can show your experiences on board, and comment about it. Being a seafarer you can visit different countries, islands. You can have friends from different countries.

Would you like to talk to us about your life at sea? Do you have an interesting story to tell from your time as a seafarer? We would love to hear from you! Send an e-mail to Amy at

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