It was the first day of week 2 and this time I had a new work place, Seychelles Coastguard which is situated on Ile perseverance. I was excited to see my new environment as this time I was not too nervous like in the first week since I had already adapted a bit to the military style and their work place. I also had a new partner with me this time, Frances who was at WiseOceans for the first week. After meeting our supervisor we started our tour of the place and I was impressed by how the base was being well maintained. There were military personnel cleaning and trimming the grass. We visited the Jetty were we saw a variety of different types of military boats that they use for their daily operations. We also visited the place where they store their ammunitions and their recreational facilities such as a gym and a T.V room, which had the most comfortable sofa we’ve ever seen. We were attached to the M.O.C (Maritime Operations Centre) for the day. That was the room were they conducted all their surveillance and communicated with boats and also the Seychelles Air Force.
Entering the room my attention was immediately caught by a screen displaying our EEZ and on it we could see a large number of boats which was sailing our ocean. We were explained how some of the systems work and it was now that I really understood why having VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) onboard boats was so important. With such an equipment details such as the boats’ name, speed and heading could be known by just one click. This is vital information and can help detect if a boat is in distress or has been hijacked. However the bigger vessels and the international ones use a more advance equipment known as AIS (Automatic Identification System). I was amazed to see the number of boats passing through the Indian Ocean at one time. I was also shown how to use the radio and in a matter of seconds I was already answering radio calls while my colleague Frances handled the telephone call. This was no doubt a busy job and at times we were answering two calls per minute.
Second day we got the chance to go with 2 coast guard officers patrol the port and around Eden Island. So why do they do patrols?
When they patrol they look out for any abnormalities such as a person or a boat in distress, moreover they also look for illegal fishing and other illegal activities. Unfortunately the patrol was not long and we were soon back to base for lunch.
We were lucky to get another patrol the next day but this time we were going to head north to Beau Vallon. As soon as we got into open water I took the controls and turned the boat north. Yes!!! I was the one piloting the boat this time. Although it took me some time to fully adapt to the boat I was feeling quite comfortable. Unfortunately as we reached the coast of North East Point the Coast guard officers was called in for a meeting. At that moment I started turning the steering with all my strength so that the boat turned right 180 degrees. Frances now took control and was given the task to bring us back to base. After reaching the base we took a well deserved rest in the super comfortable sofa as we waited for the bus back to town.
During the days were we did not go to patrol we spend most time aboard their bigger boats such as Hermes, Andromache, and Etoile. We where explained about the different equipments onboard and I was personally interested about the navigational instruments. However I soon found out that the real heart of the boat was no doubt the engine room since without it the boat would be useless.
As a whole my days at coast guard was really great and I learned a lot from the coast guard officers. They were highly disciplined and very kind to us and they helped made our experience an unforgettable one.