Shipshape lifestyle at sea

LIFE on the seven seas is nothing out of the ordinary for the McDonald family.For almost seven years, the MV Doulos has been home for former Ballarat man Ashley McDonald and his family.Built in 1914, MV Doulos is recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest active ocean-going passenger ship.It is also the largest floating bookshop in the world, with over 6000 titles onboard.In its lifetime, the ship has served four very different purposes - freighting goods, transporting emigrants, pleasure cruises and now a vessel to "bring knowledge, help and hope to the world".It is staffed by 350 Christian volunteers - including the McDonalds - from 50 countries.Each year, the MV Doulos visits an estimated 20 ports globally.Mr McDonald has been captain of the MV Doulos for the past two years. He has also served as the ship's navigator and chief officer."My three daughters have grown up on the ship and they go to school onboard with 30 kids," he said."To them, it's normal to be travelling the world all year round."Mr McDonald graddhuated from Ballarat High School in 1988.He started his new life onboard the MV Doulos in 2002 after serving in the Navy for several years.The ship has been in Australia since July.It is currently docked at Geelong until September 28.Mr McDonald yesterday paid a quick visit to Ballarat Christian College to talk about life at sea."I would do this job forever if I could," he said. "It's pretty amazing."*For more details visit the website www.mvdoulos.org.