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  • 20/12/2018 10:44 AM

    Sydney marine pilot becomes Santa of the sea

    Hundreds of international seafarers visiting ports in NSW will enjoy some festive cheer this Christmas thanks to one of Sydney’s marine pilots

    It’s hard being away from home at Christmas so spare a thought for the world’s seafarers who can spend months away from family and friends at a time.

    To spread some yuletide cheer to international seafarers visiting Port Botany, Newcastle and Port Kembla, a Port Authority of New South Wales marine pilot has come up with a plan to bring Christmas to them.

    Marine pilot Michael Kelly and Sister Mary Leahy on their Christmas sleighImage: Marine pilot Michael Kelly and Sister Mary Leahy on their Christmas sleigh

    Working with Sister Mary Leahy, a Catholic Chaplain who has been visiting the ports of New South Wales to offer wellbeing support to seafarers for 26 years, marine pilot Michael Kelly has arranged for hundreds of care packages to be delivered to ships over the Christmas period.

    With gifts including chocolate, biscuits, a toothbrush and socks, the packages are a gesture to remind seafarers that people care for them, despite their distance from loved ones. 

    Michael understands what it’s like to work at sea and be apart from family. “I remember the first time I got on a ship, I was 20, and it was just five days out from Christmas," he says. "By the fourth day I was sick of it, I just wanted to go home."

    Now, as a marine pilot, his plan with Sister Mary Leahy will put a smile on the face of hundreds of seafarers visiting our ports this Christmas.

    Meanwhile, over at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal, the maritime charity Mission to Seafarers will be on hand throughout the Christmas period to provide practical help and wellbeing support to cruise ship crew members as they visit the city.

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