As many of you know, I’m privileged to have returned recently from an Alaskan cruise. We were able to marvel at the wonders of the deep, and the majesty of the creation: land and seascape, marine, animal and bird wildlife. It was a truly awesome experience.
The second Sunday in July is often observed as Sea Sunday, so on Thursday evening this week I was glad to join the Mission to Seafarers on the Magic Hornblower to sail around Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbour. Passing close by the various terminals on the south and north shores, we were reminded of the busy-ness of the port, the largest in Canada, and the third largest in North America. The port has annually over 3,100 foreign vessel calls, a cargo tonnage of 147 million tonnes, container volume of 3.4 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit, twenty feet being a container-length), cargo value of over $240 billion; over 240 cruise sailings and 900,000 cruise passengers. Living day by day with the port on our doorstep, it is easy to forget the enormous scale of its operation, and its significance for the sustenance of not only our city and province, but the whole country and beyond.
We were reminded too of the demanding realities of life at sea – and in port – for seafarers: often at the mercy of the elements, months away from home and family (a crew member on our cruise-ship was telling me how much he was longing to see his 3 year-old son, and how he was growing), living at very close quarters with a small number of colleagues. The Mission to Seafarers, along with other like-minded charities, offers here in Vancouver and ports across the world a place of warmth, welcome and service to seafarers, so often alone in strange places far from home. Visit flyingangel.ca to find out more about the Mission’s work here on our doorstep.
“Some went down to the sea in ships and plied their trade in deep waters; … They beheld the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep… Then were they glad because the Lord brought them to the harbour they were bound for.” (From Psalm 107 – see Reflection.)
Give thanks today and pray for all Seafarers, for the Mission and all who support them.