The Men Who Sail Below

Discussion in 'Poetry and Lyrics Forum' started by horsesmouth, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. horsesmouth

    horsesmouth Active Member

    Its not mine. But its just too good. Considering the hellish conditions marine engineers work in.
    Read and comment freely. Thank the one who made this..

    The Men Who Sail Below


    Now each of us, from time to time, have gazed upon the sea,
    and watched the warships pulling out, to keep the country free.
    And most of us have read a book, or heard a lousy tale,
    about the men who sail these ships, through lightning wind and hale.

    But there is a place within each ship, that legend fails to teach
    it's down below the water line, and takes a awful toll,
    a red hot metal living hell, those sailors call the hole.
    It houses engines run by steam, that make the shafts go round,
    a place of fire, noise and heat, that beats your spirit down.
    Where boilers make a hellish heat, with blood of angry steam,
    and moulded gods without remorse are nightmares in your dreams

    Where threat from the fires roar, is like living in doubt,
    that any minute, would with scorn, escape and crush you out,
    where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell.
    Those men who keep the fires lit and make the engines run,
    are strangers to the world of night, and rarely see the sun.

    They have no time for man no beast, no tolerance for fear,
    their aspect pays no living thing the tribute of a tear.
    For there's not much that men can do, that these one's haven't done,
    below the decks, deep in the hole, to make those engines run.
    And every hour of every day they keep the watch in hell,
    for if the fires ever fail, their ship's a useless shell.

    When warships meet to have a war, upon an angry sea,
    the men below just grimly smile at what their fate may be.
    Turned too below, like men fore-doomed, who wear no battle cry,
    it's well assumed that if they're hit, the men below will die.
    Foe every day's a war down there, when the gauges all read red,
    six hundred pounds of heated steam will kill you mighty dead.

    So if you ever write their song or try to tell their tale,
    the very words will make you hear, a fired furnace wall.
    And people as a general rule, don't hear of men of steel,
    so little's heard about this place, just inches from the keel.
    But I can sing about this and try to make you see,
    the hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me.

    I've seen these sweat soaked heroes fight, in superheated air,
    to keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they're there.
    And thus they'll fight for ages on, till warships sail no more,
    amid the boilers mighty heat and turbines hellish roar.
    So when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe,
    remember faintly if you can "the men who sail below"
     
  2. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member

    it made me shudder..!!
    i've always felt that marine engineers have a very cool life..i mean 6 months work and 6 months of holiday..
    seems like i have been greatly wrong in my thinking..
    a salute to all of the brave guys out there.. :)
     
  3. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    I do believe this was more about the people who shovelled coal into the furnaces though? I suspect it would be a little too dramatic to describe a marine engineers job....but I liked it!
     
  4. IIIII....................liked it
    There are soo many small stories .. extraordinary men doing unknown jobs !!
     
  5. horsesmouth

    horsesmouth Active Member

    It does sound scary, and it isn't exactly shoveling coal. But consider this:
    -Noise equalling an aircraft taking off
    -Temperatures between 40-45 ambient
    -Hot steam & fuel pipelines (80-120 degC) to work on, without an option of cooling it
    -Disgustingly sticky, hot black oil,that doesn't leave its color or smell even after cleaning 2-3 times.
    -Heavy parts rotating at as high as 800 rpm...I can go on and on...

    And finally, people saying engineers do nothing but chill (no nandy, its not just you. even on the ship, non-engineers say that we just sit around)
    It makes us furious to listen to them saying things like: O god, i did so much work today, supervised cargo operation. I don't say cargo operation is too easy, but its non-physical. Ours is tough. Imagine using your hands instead of a hammer for jobs.
    And everyone just sacks you if the engine doesn't start and the ship suffers a loss. Imagine being reprimanded by a less educated non-degree holder just because he's the captain, and you just say: aye aye, cap'n
    :'(
    Nobody understands the plight.
    Whoever wrote this isn't just showing what goes on in the engine room...He shows clearly his anger at not being recognised by his own kind as a hard working labourer.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  6. horsesmouth

    horsesmouth Active Member

    ahh...not exactly extraordinary men...infact most are just less-than-ordinary, but sincerely hard-working. That's all you need to live on a ship.
     
  7. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member


    umm..!
    your voice rings with indignation
    i do realize now..that life's clearly very very tough for them..and they deserve to b recognized..!
     
  8. horsesmouth

    horsesmouth Active Member

    I dont mean people to say OMG engineers work so hard and stuff. Just not say things like: you can't even run an engine. Damn its not a motorcycle, its an engine the height of a 4 storey building and length more than 7-8 meters. Its definitely not easy as many shippies (non-engineers) say! Just to solve some damn thing, 5 different experts along with 20 working men have to be brought onboard. And we're supposed to run it in the middle of some sea with no help.
     
  9. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    Ppl join Marine Engg for either of three things:
    1. Money
    2. Time/travel out of the country
    3. Long extended vacations

    You get all of these because of the same hellish working conditions.

    BTW nice poetic style of writing - one of your friends?
     
  10. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member

    but he is talking about what they deserve..
    and that's respect..and not luxury..
    i think most of them would agree to give away their luxuries .. like
    1. Money
    2. Time/travel out of the country
    3. Long extended vacations
    in order to have respect .. i think ..
     
  11. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    I hope not. It's a tough job and number 1 and 3 are probably what make it worth it....I dont think they see a whole lot of the world they go to except the ports (sometimes you get lucky but it's not as often as us shore people seem to think).

    No, I meant that this might originally have been written for an older time when engines were run by shovelling coal into the furnace to generate steam? Like how they show it in titanic (other inaccuracies aside)? Or am I far off the mark?
     
  12. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member

    umm..read what i wrote again please..i think you're confused...or maybe i am..
     
  13. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    No, I'm not. What are you confused about?
     
  14. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member


    well .. i was talking about luxuries and respect,,
    and i said that people who are ill treated..would agree to replace luxury with respect.. i think
     
  15. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    and I'm saying that I hope that's not true.
     
  16. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    We are landlubbers - and hence cannot fathom how the balance between respect, luxury, money, comfort etc changes on the ship.
     
  17. nandy0894

    nandy0894 New Member

    but horsemouth knows..and he's telling about it..!
    read the previous comments..
     
  18. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    I've grown up around a bunch of them though. My father is a navalarchitect and most of his friends are either navalarchitects or marine engineers, my brother is a marine engineer...and I listen to them talking about it a lot, and I sympathize sometimes. One thing that is really different is how your world is limited to the people you're on the ship with...If I don't get along socially at work, I can choose to do my job, leave and meet a bunch of other people. You can't afford to be unpopular on a ship...or get on the wrong side of people. I know of a case where the chief engineer was thrown off a vessel into the sea when the crew discovered he was having an affair with the 2nd engineers wife. The story told later was that he fell overboard.

    A similar amazing story was of the 8 year old son of a chief engineer. He was thrown overboard as revenge by a crew member who had been reprimanded for something by the chief. No one found out for some time....a search was launched and abandoned because trying to find someone in the sea is rather futile if you don't know when or where they fell overboard. It was a perfect murder except the child had been wearing a life jacket on deck (standard safety regulations)....he was spotted and picked up by another ship within 15 minutes of his falling over. At the next port, the boy went back to his father and identified the person responsible who was arrested.


    A famous case in Calcutta a few years ago was of a boat that caught fire but everyone survived except the captain and his family. The crew had time to put on life jackets, lower down lifeboats and sail away but apparently not to alert the captain. The boat was later being towed to be taken for investigation of arson but the towing rope mysteriously snapped and the boat sank to the bottom. Go figure.
     
  19. Vader

    Vader New Member

    I doubt the they get it all though
    Think of it from a marine engineers point of view

    -Money...alright the are well paid... but then again... can they really enjoy it? or is it just another the 'grass is greener on the other side' from our point of view... yes their kids can enjoy it...their family can but being on a ship(where products are chosen and expenses are paid by the company) can they?
    -ok they have time out of the country so they have NRI status and arent taxed
    -travel... again fair enough... you do get to see the world but keep in mind that its one day offboard for around 20 days onboard...
    some places where they refuel can hardly be called a tourist spot...
    -Long extended vacations... this is hardly true.. if you start as a fifth engineer you have to be ten months on board and two months vac
    you then climb upto second engineer where you get around two months leave for every four months onboard... chief engg get three on three off...
    when you are on board you work 17 hours a day in hot engine rooms

    ok chuck everything else... suppose there is a *dream company* who gives you 3 months off for every 3 months on since you are fifth engg...
    now when you have leave
    you have more than one of these
    1. Bank Work
    2. Some compulsory course to complete (fire fighting, first aid etc)
    3. Medical test before you are allowed back on ship
    4. Visa work
    5. Bill payments etc
    6. Etc work around the house which your family cannot handle on their own(leakage,renovation, painting etc)
    7. Investing your money in stuff where you dont need to monitor much

    Also there is a constant expectation from your family to cram 6 months of fun in 3
    parents want to go to temples, wife to shopping and fancy restaurants, kids to movies, amusement parks
    count catching up with friends in that and you hardly have time to yourself to relax of *chill*

    another disadvantage is that (my reason for not choosing this stream after serious consideration)
    - when you are on board you live with your colleagues... imagine an awful person... someone you cant stand in college or at work...
    now imagine living with them... sharing television time or sitting across the dining table...
    its easy to pretend and be cordial for a couple of hours
    but doing it day in and day out needs some serious Tao Mojo!!!
     
  20. horsesmouth

    horsesmouth Active Member

    1. Money...Yes!
    2. Not time/travel...the arrival of internet has been a disaster in that aspect. Now a ship can get in and out in as less as 6 hrs, and there's so much to do in between, that going out is rarely an option. But considering that the money has increased, people don't seem to mind that.
    3. Not long extended vacations...now sailors want to earn as much as possoble in as little time as possible, and they and go back to sail in 2-3 months. They want to get back to shore jobs after they earn "sufficient" money, and that never happens !
    The only thing that matters is M O N E Y.

    Naa, none of my friend's are poets. This I happened to come across a shipping page on facebook.


    Respect we want, but ofcourse noone wants to give up this place or the lifestyle it offers. Which is why rarely shippies switch their profession. They are used to lots of money they dunno what to do with.


    This is where I find the poet's genius. Every word he says is perfectly as it is onboard. Though he expresses it in a dramatic way which creates room for wild imagination. The key is to take words literally, and not go by the nature of expression.

    The balance hangs largely in the side of money, the next most important thing is respect, because everybody knows there are no luxuries onboard, neither comfort. We are already prepared for this. All we want is what I said before.


    True. Its said that you aren't allowed any weapons onboard. (The belief that the captain has an axe in his cabin is false). Fact is, you don't really need weapons. A small spanner of size 17 mm is sufficient to mortally damage a person when dropped from 2 storeys above. Considering there are huge ones of 150 mm size too, its easy to figure out why maintaining good relations with people you hate is the only option. We have to go through compulsory social responsibility courses for the same.

    The child was really lucky. I've heard these things happen many times, specially in multilingual crew. For eg, the chinese resort to violence if they're humiliated in public. Filipinos are very particular about others accepting their culture and considering they are the partying kind, they never get along with romanian or english masters/chief engineers. Many others include places where Indians and Pakistanis/ Bangladeshis are mixed up. Its a cold war. One of my last ship's crew had broken the shoulder of a 2nd engineer just because he was a pakistani. That's sad, but true.
    as
     

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