Born in Hamburg, my first memories revolve around ships, harbours, and dreams of travel to distant shores. I knew I was going to be a mariner since I was 5 years old. Unlike many of my peers, who wanted to be pilots, firemen, or generals at that age, I actually made it happen.
I graduated in 1984 from Maritime Institute ‘Willem Barentsz’ on the island of Terschelling in The Netherlands with a major in Marine Engineering. A seagoing career sailing on tankers, multi-purpose cargo ships, and offshore construction vessels, made me leave as first engineer in the late 80’s. From then on I still traveled, but not by sea anymore. Installing and commissioning power plants, brought me to many islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.
In 1994 I stranded on the biggest island on this planet, China. Wait a minute, China is not an island. ‘Island’ as in ‘surrounded by water’. You are right, it’s not. ‘Surrounded by water’, that is. Because apart from that little detail, this place is the largest and most populated island I have ever visited. Most of the population have no idea, nor interest what is going on outside their country. If they are even aware that there IS a life outside China. Those who are in government, and very well aware, do their utmost to keep their population isolated. Isolated from real news, from the truth, from common sense.
After 13 years in China, I work in the marine industry again. On the other side of the fence this time, for a big marine repair specialist and marine products and systems supplier. One day the Stranded Mariner will head out to sea again, this time on his own, well earned, boat. Don’t we all have, and need our dreams?
With this little island in Cyberspace I want to share with you my experiences on this largest of islands.
Shanghai, April 2007