Seafarers and Weather

Dr Maria Borovnik1

1Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand


Seafarers are exposed, enveloped and embedded in weather while working and travelling on tankers, cargo or containerships. In some cases, their journeys will go along extremely different weathers within only short time periods. Every day, vessel steering, oiling, cleaning, rust removing, cooking and serving, cargo loading and unloading goes on in any weather. In this paper, I will consider how seafarers from tropical island states, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, experience the change in weather when embarking on their merchant seafaring travels on tankers, containerships, and other cargo ships and while they are travelling from port to port. Containerships travel along loops and while doing so may cross a range of different time and weather zones. Therefore, I will also draw on my own experiences and observations on my one-month journey on a containership travels across the Indian Ocean, the South and West China Seas. Specifically, I want to look at the embodied experiences of changing weather, and how these are part of global transport and the everyday work of seafarers.


Maria Borovnik is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at Massey University, New Zealand. She has recently joined the Editorial Team of ‘Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies’; and is Book Review Editor of the ‘New Zealand Geographer’. Her current interests are in the intersection of mobilities, landscape and weather, and has, in the past, explored seafarers’ realities from economic, health, and cultural-social perspectives.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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