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Seafarers in Love or in Lust?

Updated on February 9, 2013
USS Louisville (SNN 724)(Photo courtesy of
USS Louisville (SNN 724)(Photo courtesy of
Sir William Davenant
Sir William Davenant

When we differentiate the meaning between love and lust, the former will be geared towards emotion while the latter will fall into the physical attraction involving sexual relationship.

Many true accounts about seafarers having sexual affairs with their fellow crew on board ship were related to the sailor’s knowledge. From his first contract as a cook trainee on board a Greek tanker vessel, he heard some peculiar stories and witnessed some events regarding indecent proposals between seafarers and men from the ports where women’s services are scarce and quite expensive.

From the ship’s saloon and inside crew’s cabin

1. The sailor brought a rated-R Greek movie on board ship. Whenever snack time arrived (around 10 am and 3 pm), Filipinos are fond of watching movies while sipping their coffee or juice or just sharing stories with sexual undertones. That controversial Greek movie portrayed Greek characters. Men are peculiarly acting like gays and the women, lesbians. When the sailor’s Greek master heard about it, he threw the CD into the sea and talked to him. He said that there’s an island called Lesbos in Greece where most of the people are gays and lesbians. He don’t want the rest of the crew to stereotype the image of Greeks, like the characters being portrayed in that said movie. He didn’t reprimanded the sailor but he don’t want the crew watching sex films because it corrupt the minds of many seafarers. He permitted his crew to borrow more wholesome and action films from his office.

Greek stories about homosexual didn’t end there. The sailor’s Greek cook also admitted that he experienced that kind of sexual life in his country. He even participated in an orgy, involving only men. What a revelation!

2. Also during his first contract, the sailor, who’s a cook trainee, were told by an Egyptian loading master that he wanted to have sex with one of the Filipino AB (able-bodied seaman). He even wanted to pay the person a hundred US dollars just to persuade the crew to have sex with him. This happened during the crude oil ship-to-ship transfer in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Even the Filipino loading supervisor who worked in the same vessel also wanted to have sex with the Filipino fourth engineer of the sailor’s vessel. Fourth engineer was very furious, just kept his mouth shut and related the incident later when the ship was on voyage going to Japan.

3. Sex with women are becoming expensive, so, some of Japanese stevedores just ease their sexual urges with male prostitutes called “husto” that are becoming popular in Japan. This was relayed to the sailor by one of the stevedores who worked in the jetty of the port. They said, no big deal, it’s just sex.

4. A confession was made by a fellow Filipino crew to the sailor when he was working in a container vessel as the ship’s assistant cook. The Filipino crew that during his first contract as a seafarer, he fell attracted (or in love?) with a fellow Filipino crew from the other ship. His relationship with him is still going strong even they’re working in two different shipping companies. He didn’t want to admit to his family about his sexual preference. The sailor consoled him that he’s responsible for his actions. As long as they’re happy together, he will support him. Later, the sailor knew that the secret is now circulating to his mutual friends, although no one tried to voice it out to his family.

5. A Greek chief engineer nearly raped the sailor’s friend (a mess man) in the afternoon of Christmas celebration (December 25, 2002). The sailor awoke at the crew saloon around one o’clock in the afternoon with everybody missing (maybe some proceed to their duties while others are fast sleeping inside their cabins). He proceeded to the ship’s galley to wash the utensils (plates, drinking glasses, etc.) used during the midnight until the wee hours celebration. Almost all got drunk, including himself. While the sailor continued washing, he felt a person slowly caressed his back and hugged him suddenly while moaning and uttering soft words in Greek. He immediately knew that it was the chief engineer, who’s fond of hugging Filipino crew. The sailor felt a discomfort because the Greek officer continue kissed his neck. He stopped his advances while the sailor continued his job. Later, that evening, the messman confessed that he’s nearly raped by the chief engineer. Two days after, while everybody were in crew’s saloon because of crew change, the chief engineer whose also friendly to everyone, said sorry to the sailor because of his unmanly behavior.

6. An ordinary seaman is always or more often than not, with the company of the chief officer. A Filipino officer related to the sailor that they noticed the new behavior of the OS. He became timid and want to go home; he didn’t want to finish his contract. After a thorough one-on-one talk, the Filipino officer found out that the OS had been harassed by the Greek chief officer many times, whenever he had a chance to do it in the ship’s elevator or even at the reefers of the container ship.

7. One seafarer admitted engaging in an explicit affair with a foreign crew in order to have additional money. He’s the breadwinner of his family back in the Philippines, that’s why he’s forced to do it.

8. The sailor’s Greek cook also attested that it happens frequently in his country. He even witnessed two fellow Greeks engaging in sexual acts in other Greek ships where he also served as cook.

9. A Filipino crew was nearly raped by a Canadian stevedore when he invited the latter to have a drink in his cabin.

10. The Greek boatswain or bosun nearly broke set of ribs of the messman when he tried kissing him. The bosun’s advances stopped when the crew told the chief mate about the problem.

There are countless unaccounted sexual that continue to happen on board ship. It is the aggrieved party’s decision to report it or let it happen or just ignore it. And most of the time, the foreigner involved in such homosexual acts are of Greek descent.

Greek love, Male bonding and the like

The term Greek love is documented in German writings between 1750 and 1850. Socratic love and platonic love are terms for male to male attractions.

Homosexual activities in ancient civilization are common. Due to the class system, sex option is very rigid. Marriage is expected but men and women at that time didn’t go together in public and traditionally did not even eat meals together.

Ancient Greeks didn’t know yet the term homosexuality until the Fall of Byzantine Empire. So, the sailor cannot blame the Greeks for bringing their sexual peculiarities on board ship.

Filipinos are fond of patting or touching the bottoms or asses of their fellow crew, but the Greeks resent it because it signifies other things.

Books and influences in literature

Greece became a reference point when talking about male-male sexual relationship of a specific class and education. The phrase dates back to 1636 as of its first use through “Platonic Lovers” by Sir William Davenant. The writings of Marsilio Ficino coined the term “amor Socraticus” from his translation of the Symposium. In his commentary with the Symposium by Socrates. Ficino carefully separates the act of sodomy, which he condemned and commended Socratic love as the highest form of friendship among men (as in fraternity and other men’s social groups). Ficino believed that men could use each other’s beauty and friendship to discover the greatest good, that is, God. He Christianized the theory of love presented by Socrates.

Richard A. Posner, author of “Sex and Reason” carefully differentiates the subject, discussing men who prefer sex with other men, over women, and men who preferred sex with women, but quick to substitute a man or sometimes a boy when women are not available.

The Renaissance saw the rise of two great artists in the names of Leonardo da Vinci and Michaeangelo. The two discovered Plato and his teachings and applied it as artistic inspiration for their greatest works. Greek love was an ideal love in its essence, after the platonic pattern. Michaelangelo presented himself to the public as Platonic lover of men.

The sailor’s conclusion is that some men cannot fight their longing to their wives or girlfriends, so, they are lured to engage into an explicit affair with other men on board ship. With the long contracts of six to nine months or even a year, who wouldn’t be tempted to try this new kind of set-up; without strings attached?


In conclusion, seafarers may be tempted in having a queer relationship between them, but they should avoid it.

Admiration among men is also the same with women. Platonic relationship will grow among them but they should never indulge into such acts of intimacy that are mentioned here.

Men should love women, not in-between relationships.

Jim Frangione on Ivan Curry in The Seafarer c/o MerrimackRep79


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    • profile image

      George Konst 11 months ago

      Hey I am from Lesbos Island and you got it wrong in your article.

      Lesbos is known by a poetess Sapho that she wrote some poems about the female beauty, therefore they called her homosexual and since she is from Lesbos island they used my island name for the female stuff (lesbians). Sapho died because of a man (she loved him so much). But that is kept a secret by the mainstream, as they want to promote that island as the center of lesbians. Every year homosexual lesbians gather in my island and having parties and a conference.

      Maybe Mykonos is the island you are looking for, anybody who goes there, goes to get some.. ugly island with lots of cucumbers to have fun with.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      Thanks for giving a minute of your time. Short but meaningful comment is enough to re-energize my desire to continue hubbing.

      Thank you, darknlovely3436.

    • Darknlovely3436 profile image

      Annie 6 years ago from NewYork

      great hub

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      Those facts are still mind-boggling to me. I was shock with those revelations of seafarers. Really we can never control what's going in our minds, given the chance to work in the harsh environment of seafaring.

      Thanks for taking your time her, cheerfulnuts.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      There are so many things that have been happening that I'm not even aware of. I feel so naïve. I'm going to tweet this. Thanks for sharing. Take care.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      Yes, Sir Don; some seafarers even defy the natural selection. Temptations abound when you work overseas. I only feature some but those untold stories made me realize that it truly existed in this world.

    • DON BALDERAS profile image

      DON BALDERAS 6 years ago

      In one of my outing several years back via a local vessel,I learned that female whores are also on board waiting only to be picked anytime. That's a different story from what you shared. Truly, it takes great courage and discipline to ward off advances and still remain composed as a person.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 7 years ago from Seven Seas

      Rightfully said, Seafarer Mama. Temptations abound when you're onboard ship. It's tough to resist any kind of temptations, though.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 7 years ago from New England

      I'm sure it takes a great deal of mental and emotional energy to exert discipline over one's desires. When there is cultural mores that include certain subtle, sensual behaviors, I am sure it difficult to draw lines...modern seafarers must have such a tough time when out at sea.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 7 years ago from Seven Seas

      There are many stories onboard ship that should be revealed. I'm sure many seafarers have experiences, like you've written here.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      It's inevitable to feel like this. Lust will enslave you, once you feel it onboard ship. So the best way to avoid this is to focus on your goal: your family back home.