I have an interest in ports, ships, containers, swing-lift trucks, port machinery, stacks of containers, stacks of logs.. I love the port environment! We’ve just got home from an overnighter to Dunedin and last night we went to Port Chalmers to have dinner at the Portsider restaurant and pub. Port Chalmers is about a 15-minute drive along one side of the harbour, nicely separated from the city centre. The main street leads directly down to the Port and you can see enormous cranes down there that are the dominant feature of the town. After dinner we wandered down the main street and I spotted this building on the other side of the street – Seafarers Centre.
The door was closed and I said to Nigel “I bet that’s not used as a Seafarers Centre any more!” and having said that I became curious about what it’s used for and crossed the road to look at the notices on the windows. As I was standing there the door suddenly opened and a woman came out so I explained why I was being a sticky-beak! We chatted and occasionally a foreign-looking man would walk around us and go inside.
She told me how the seamen can be on ship for up to 9 months of the year so they don’t get to see their families much. They can come into the Seafarers Centre and relax, and call their loved ones in a safe environment. This particular Centre is popular because it’s very close walking distance from the ships and the seamen don’t have to wait for a shuttle like in many other ports. She also visits the ships, both in Port Chalmers and at the port in Dunedin itself.
We were invited inside to have a look, so nice of her to invite us in! As we walked through the door we saw some men playing a game of pool and there was casual seating and computers in the room. Immediately after that room we walked past two telephone cubicles. She mentioned they’re not used much now as most of the seamen can call home via an internet service like Skype. Then we entered another room with a tv and more casual seating, more computers, and a sink with tea and coffee making facilities.
I was really happy to be proven wrong and to see that the building IS used for the purpose shown. The lady had done this work for ten years and the service is supported by a Trust.
Text and photo by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)