As he recalls, thanks to the International Shipping Register of Madeira - MAR and with the help of EUROMAR, SDM's partner in Germany, "I received an opportunity to work for the prestigious company Peter Döhle Schiffahrts-KG at the 11th of May 2014 on board of the Portuguese flagged M/V Viona, being the first Portuguese seafarer ever employed by the company".
Here follows the chronicle in Pedro Santos' own words:
"After finishing my studies at ENIDH, the higher education institution for maritime studies in Lisbon, which offers several Bachelor and Master courses for navigators, I didn’t expect the search for a job opportunity to be as hard and long as nearly one year. However the global economic situation, the decreasing number of Portuguese shipping companies, as well as the lack of presence of ENIDH in the world, complicated and prolonged the process.
In Portugal we have a single nautical school remaining and this last school meanwhile operates at a very low level of its possible capacities. During the previous decades the shipping inductor in Portugal had suffered a lot. There are just a very few shipping companies remaining who operate today merchant vessels from our county. As a result less and less Portuguese seamen can find employment at sea and our maritime competence is decreasing.
The first month was very hard, adapting to the new routines and the new environment. My biggest problems were regarding my anxiety, the lack of knowledge and the communication. Work on board is hard. Maintenance works on deck during daytime, mooring and cargo operations in the ports and studying at night on the bridge to improve the nautical skills are filling the major parts of my day. Especially the studying, a full commitment and long working hours, were the key to my development. After three months on board the results can be seen by all my fellow crew members.
The crew of M/V Viona comes from various Nations so that our working language is English. Besides improving the language skills one learns a lot about the cultural differences and can enjoy the variation. One example: Our chief cook for example comes from the Philippines and therefore most of the food he preparers has this special kind of Asian touch, which I like a lot. There are times when I miss my family and friends, but that’s part of the seaman life. Soon the first contract will be over and we are all already today looking forward to the day that I come back to Madeira.
Our vessel is currently sailing in the Baltic area, between St. Petersburg, Dunkirk and Antwerp. So we enjoy the northern European summer including its long bright nights in the Baltic and North Sea area. Our schedule is certainly tight and fatigue is a constant factor which is carefully watched. But whenever I see the sunrise or sunset at the horizon, I know that all the efforts are worth it, because that image is priceless.
Working on board and at one time in the future getting the command over a vessel as a Captain is the dream which I follow. Being a Portuguese I feel this special connection to the sea and believe that growing the Portuguese flagged fleet will have advantages for our country. It fulfils me with pride and hope that more and more ships are flying again the Portuguese flag and that the Portuguese homeport Madeira is shown by big merchant vessels at ports all over the world."