Get On Board! Fall 2021

Ministry to Seafarers

Rev. Gary Roosma

401 E. Waterfront Rd. Vancouver, BC V6A 4G9


Facebook and Instagram: Ministry to Seafarers Vancouver

Email: crcvanportchaplain@gmail.com


  • What's Happening?
  • Vaccinations
  • Did you know?
  • Prayer Updates
  • Christmas Sewing for Seafarers
  • International Day of the Seafarer

What's Happening?

The cover photo is of a ship being loaded with canola at Cascadia Terminal in Vancouver. Cargo continues to come into and leave the Port of Vancouver. The summer fires shut down the rail lines for a while, which backed up cargo delivery and created huge delays. The container ships have been especially busy, with demand at an all-time high and backlogs and delays up and down the coast at nearly all ports, as well as in many other regions around the world.

The Port of Vancouver recently released statistics for the first half of 2021, showing that total cargo volume passing through this port reached an all time high - up 7% from the first half of 2020 and up 5% from the previous high in 2019. Bulk grain volumes were up by 20% over 2020, while container quantities increased by 24%! You can read the full report on the portvancouver.com website - check out the "media room."

Container ships loading and discharging

Amid the continuing busyness in the ports, seafarers are working as hard as ever. These have been stressful times for them, and the strain is beginning to show in mental health. This past summer Gary was involved in a case on board where one seafarer experienced a serious mental breakdown. Seafarers themselves are expressing how wearing the stress has been. On one ship we recently visited we tried to encourage a crew that is disheartened. Many of that crew have been on board for nearly one year, and even though all crew have been vaccinated already, they are still not allowed to leave their ship.

Canada allows shore leave for seafarers, and some ships do permit their crews to come ashore, though still a minority. It is always such a relief for the crews who are able to come ashore and spend some time off the ship at the seafarers centre. We hope more will be able to access shore leave, but the delta variant spreading now has meant that some ships that were previously allowing shore leave have now halted it again.


Vaccinations in Vancouver

One of the ways we've been able to serve seafarers recently is by helping to arrange for Covid vaccinations for them while they are here in Vancouver. It has taken some time to get things organized as we work together with local health authorities and with other port agencies. These vaccinations are taking place in other Canadian ports, and around the world. The U.S. ports have been quicker at arranging for vaccinations, with tens of thousands already vaccinated south of our border. Their access to the one-shot J&J vaccine makes it a more attractive option for seafarers, who may or may not return to Vancouver or any other Canadian port.

Having said that, the vaccination campaign in BC ports is ramping up. As of October 1st over 500 seafarers have been vaccinated in BC, with more scheduled. The local Chamber of Shipping office has been instrumental in helping to make this happen, and many agencies, including the seafarers centres, are working together to help seafarers get vaccinated. We're thankful for the various provincial health authorities who are going out of their way to make this happen, including Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Island Health, and Northern Health.

One of many recent ship visits


We are sometimes asked, "Why do we need to donate to the Ministry to Seafarers when the local Classes (regional groupings of CRC churches) already provide funding for this Ministry?"

In fact, funding from the two BC Classes provided only 40.5% of our 2021 budget. And the Classes are beginning annual incremental reductions of their support, which will require this Ministry to be even more dependent on congregational offerings and individual donations. Thankfully some churches are already holding regular offerings for the Ministry to Seafarers, but we will need even more churches and individuals to donate for this Ministry to continue to thrive.

Please consider ways you can help. Go to our website (MinistrytoSeafarers.com) for more information on how you can be involved. Check out the "Get Involved" section, or simply click on this link to the "Donate" page to go directly there.

Prayer Updates

Thank you all for your continued care and support for this ministry through your prayers and gifts. We are now preparing to launch new and more frequent "Prayer Updates" emails for those who are keen to pray more specifically for this Ministry. These updates will provide more frequent and specific prayer requests, including occasional urgent prayer requests for a particular crew, situation, or even individual. We'll be using the Mailchimp platform. You can register to receive these updates by clicking here.

With Autumn now upon us and as we head towards winter, the seas will be getting regularly rougher and the voyages for ships will be more challenging and stressful due to adverse weather. Do keep seafarers in your prayers during this time of rough and unpredictable seas.

Christmas Sewing for Seafarers

Ditty Bags

This year we will once again be distributing Christmas gifts to seafarers. Actually, we have been giving out care packages to all the ships we visit throughout this season of the Covid pandemic, so our usual "Christmas at Sea" campaign has now become our year-round "Covid and Christmas at Sea" project.

As usual, donations for Christmas at Sea can be sent by cheque to the downtown office (401 E. Waterfront Rd., Vancouver, BC, V6A 4G9). Make cheques payable to "Ministry to Seafarers." You can also give online at our ministrytoseafarers.com website, and add a note that your donation is for the Christmas at Sea fund.

We are still welcoming gifts of knitted toques. And this year we are beginning a project for sewing "Ditty Bags" that will be used to pack the Christmas gifts. Please consider using some of your leftover material or buying some new colourful material to sew these handy bags. Maybe organize this as a group project in your church. A pattern for these bags can be found on our website or by clicking here. We will need literally hundreds of these bags, so please do get "sewing for seafarers."

International Day of the Seafarer

Deliveries for Day of the Seafarer

On June 25th we celebrated the annual International Day of the Seafarer. Traditionally we have large barbecues at each of the seafarers' centres, and bring seafarers from their ships to the centres to join us for the feast. But with Covid still a concern and so many not allowed off their ships, this year we decided to bring the celebration to them. Special donations from some of the local port agencies enabled us to deliver pizzas and donuts throughout the entire week to many ships that were in port.