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Port congestion used to mean ships spending long periods at anchor. I experienced three such weeks in the Shatt-al-Arab River that separates Iran from Iraq in May 1975. There was no space in the tanks ashore for our cargo of cottonseed oil so we were left to fester at anchor. 

Festering is not something mariners enjoy. We soon found another British ship in a similar situation further up the river. The attraction of the other ship was that she was a refrigerated cargo ship, with steak in her holds. She also had Australian beer on board, while we had British beer. Boats were lowered and a trade began in steak and beer. This soon led to social events as boats began to ply back and forth between the two ships.

One night when several lads from the other ship were drinking in our bar I found myself in conversation with their electrical officer. He was enjoying his life. He told me how he had everything he wanted. A good job that he enjoyed. A new flat and a wonderful girlfriend waiting for him back in the UK. He showed me the very expensive Seiko watch he had purchased in Japan during the voyage. He exuded complete satisfaction with life. Later that night when returning to his ship he fell out of the boat and was swept away by the current. We put our boats down to assist in the search, but it was three weeks before his body was found elsewhere in the river. He died having everything he ever wanted, but without the only thing he really needed – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

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