This research project is an attempt to develop a rich understanding about the relationship
between seafarers and their families by means of a conversational construction between a
number of co-researchers. In order to do this, the question that is explored is: How can there
be a better understanding of the lives, the circumstances and the problems that seafarers are
experiencing in the relationship with their families? The answer put forward in this research
is that this can be accomplished through a narrative approach guided by the ABDCE formula
which applies the metaphor of story writing to research. The research was motivated by
pastoral and missionary concerns. The epistemologies that informed this research were social
constructionism, the narrative approach and postfoundationalism with its emphasis on the
interdisciplinary approach. In this article the main character for this research was a seafarer
called John1 from Nigeria who was brought into conversation with a number of other coresearchers.
The understanding that was developed found that the career choice of seafarers
creates problems in their relationship with their family because they become in a sense
strangers and outsiders to their loved ones. On the other hand seafarers are empowered, many
times through their faith, to handle the challenges of their career, in addition to which this
profession offers opportunities that would otherwise not have been possible. The relationship
between a seafarer and his or her family was described as a complex one and thin, superficial
and stereotypical conclusions were hopefully in the process deconstructed.
This article has been adapted from the PhD dissertation of C.J.V. (University of Pretoria) which was completed under the supervision of J.C.M. (University of Pretoria).