Tales from the Sea. Vladimir Ponomarev

3 min read
02 Nov 2021

Our technology bridges oceans – and so have many of our colleagues here at Wärtsilä Voyage. For example, Vladimir Ponomarev, Solutions Director, Marine Product Group, spent five years at sea. Experience his stories and discover what makes him so passionate about our industry – from seafarer to seafarer. 

Meet our mariners. 


Taking one for the team 

While most navigators try to avoid obstacles in shallow waters, Vladimir’s job as a hydrographic researcher was to actively seek them out so he could make sure they appeared on the navigational charts. He found the dangerous spots so other vessels could avoid them, so it’s no surprise that he experienced quite a few groundings during his career. Despite this, he has many fond memories of his time at sea. He wasn’t sailing on a specific ship as he was doing hydrographic research, sailing onboard a variety of vessels from large, 10,000-tonne craft down to small boats. Vladimir was leading a group of people doing depth measurement and oceanographic research of physical fields of the ocean.

My last day on a vessel

If I’m being honest, I was glad to step off a boat for the final time. I’d been at sea for about three months non-stop at that point, so I was quite happy to feel solid ground under my feet again! That was back in 1995, but to this day I still dream about the sea all the time – it’s the kind of career that forever changes your perception of life.

My most memorable moment 

There are almost too many to mention. One time, I was conducting depth research on a small craft with an outboard motor that had no reverse gear, so every time I hit a rock I damaged the propeller. Eventually one of the propeller’s four blades was so badly damaged that it was beyond repair, so instead I used a hammer to smash up the opposite blade in the same way and sailed on with a two-blade propeller!

My most valuable lesson 

You have to be able to rely on your crewmates. When you live in a small, cramped space with the same people for months at a time, you need to deal with their strengths and weaknesses, and during crises like storms or onboard emergencies you’re dependent on them doing their jobs properly. This lesson has helped me tremendously in my land-based life and career too.


The one thing that still makes me smile 

It’s more a combination of many memories that brings a smile to my face. In all honesty, there’s not much to romanticise about being at sea – in reality it’s a tough job. I forgot all the hard times pretty quickly though, and the memories that have stayed in my heart are my crewmates, our stories and the feeling of being part of a team working together inside the same metal hull.

When I was at sea, I wish I’d had 

Definitely ECDIS. Life would have been so much easier with that kind of technology at my disposal! 

Vladimir’s experiences on the water have left a big impression, in both his personal life and his career. Without them, he wouldn’t have the deep understanding of seafarers’ needs that allows him to effectively perform in his current role at Wärtsilä Voyage. 

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