Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Shock news... we've been painting!!!

August 27th
I began the morning chipping paint on deck 11, just the undersides of the stanchions (rail posts) where they joined the wooden rail. By 0900 we had painted all the chipped bits with sealant and were vacuuming up the chips of paint from the deck so the guys told me to chip off as we has an engine room tour booked for 0930. G took us round, showing us everything, he managed to level it at two complete novices who have no idea what all the whirring, bleeping and clunking lumps of metal do, he did get rather excited showing us his area of expertise- the sewage works! We went painting on the aft mooring deck for half an hour after lunch as the engine guys get back at 1330, and then we went back to finish off with looking at the incinerator and electrical side. That took us up to smoko and then we returned to the aft mooring deck to carry on painting the yellow parts of the black and yellow danger area stripes around the winches.
The guys were having a party tonight on the f’wd deck, and insisted we come- about ten of them asked each of us over the afternoon, so we really couldn’t let them down. On top of that the Chief Electrical Engineer was having his leaving party- which we had also been invited to, so we went to both, the engineers party first and then the deck party, which was a bit more lively- karaoke is the Phillipines national pastime, and while it had been going on at the engineers party it was only background there, at the deck party it was the main event. For the first time in my life I sang karaoke, even though I swore I never would, after that there was dancing, someone made me drink tequila, more dancing and then S and I ran away as it was getting late, we went to the wardroom to check emails and have a glass of water and then chipped off to bed, just before the C/O came in apparently!

August 28th
This morning looked like it was going to be painting again but then we heard a call on the boatswains radio about cadets. We were being roped into helping empty the two tenders that are being put ashore in Southampton for maintenance. This involved getting all the supplies and equipment out of the lockers that are hidden under seats and in corners, it was a grimey job and took us all morning to empty both of them. We did get a break in the middle, smoko, followed by a lecture in the Royal Court Theatre about pest control, which nearly sent us all to sleep!
After an extra long lunch break (because we’d overrun in the morning into lunch) S and I were back on the aft mooring deck, painting black stripes on the floor this time!

August 29th
Back in Southampton and it was an early start for us as stations was at 0520, we were due to come alongside at 0700, but two tenders needed to be lowered before that as they are going ashore for maintenance. As it worked out things ran really smoothly and we were alongside and secure by 0610, which meant we had time for a leisurely breakfast and some catching up on writing up notes before reporting to the bridge at 0800. Our job for the morning was to go around the ship opening every fire screen door. It sounds simple enough, and considering that emails had been sent to every department to make everyone aware of this, and there were several announcements made by the C/O over the morning as well, you might think that all the crew would be aware of the test that we were doing this for… nuh uh! Thankfully we weren’t the only people doing this task as, by the time we had done decks 12 to 8, we started getting sent back to doors we’d already done because crewmembers had closed them again. We had to go back to some doors 4 or 5 times, which became a little, er, frustrating… The C/O actually told me to start finding the people who were closing them and hand out bollockings!! Finally though we were told to report back to the bridge, where we had a brief rest before being sent down to deck 1 where I was told to aft and stop anyone going through any fire door while the test was being conducted. When the announcement for the test was made I told the guys working in the area and anyone passing though that they had to stop and wait, and made sure no-one tried to pass through. Once the doors had been closed it took about 10-15 minutes while the bridge checked each deck on the computer system and noted any defects showing, many of which were due to crewmembers opening doors unfortunately, but still had to be checked individually later.
After that I had 3 hours with P, who I’d booked in as a visitor again, we had lunch in La Piazza upstairs on deck 7 and I showed him a bit more of the ship as I’d found a lot of places I didn’t know about before during the fire screen door closing!
Once he’d gone I went back up to the bridge where everyone was very busy making departure checks and getting ready to get underway. We stayed on the bridge for the sailaway, which was very interesting as we got to watch and listen in on all the briefings and checks that happen, as well as watching Staff drive us off the berth.
After that we decided to go to the spa, we felt we deserved it after the miles we’d trekked closing fire doors in the morning!

August 30th
Study day once more, we spent the morning writing up reports on things we’ve done until S handed the C/O her draft report on MOB, at which point he took us around the bridge going through the whole procedure, including any variations that might occur… S re-wrote her report!
We carried on writing things up in the afternoon and thought for a brief moment that we’d escaped our grilling- no such luck! N told us to come to the bridge at 2030 instead, straight after the cocktail party. We did alright actually, we’ve not got rule 3 verbatim yet, but we were close enough for him to be reasonably happy. We then talked about stability for a while before he told us he was sick of looking at us!

August 31st
Back to the aft mooring deck today, painting the black and yellow stripes around the winches. The morning was broken up by a technical drill at 1000 on damage control. S and I went with the 3rd officers into the control room where we were talked through the process of closing valves and what the options were for pumping water out of a space that was flooding. The damage control plan is a very important document if a space floods as it lists all the valves and doors that need to be closed if a compartment starts to flood. Back on the baggage handling area the deck and engine fire teams were going over the equipment for plugging holes, shoring up and pollution prevention. If an emergency occurs the first priority is safety of life and saving the ship, and then pollution prevention after that.
In the afternoon I joined the deck guys in their task of scraping 5 years worth of varnish off the deck, we’re going to paint an area of the aft mooring deck black, with anti skid paint and that is going to be the only area on which varnishing can take place.

September 1st
A new month brings new work, we are now working under the Safety Officer with the deck POs, (Petty Officers). Our first task was to go around all the fire screen doors that had shown faults on the full ship test in Southampton and re-test them individually. Most of the faults that had shown up were due to crewmembers walking through them while the test was being done, so there were only a few doors with actual faults. That took us most of the day but by afternoon smoko we were done and went to the SO for a new job. We pent the rest of the afternoon inspecting the low-location photo-luminescent strips around the crew areas (those strips we got put to work cleaning on out first day) This time we’re just going round noting any defects, thankfully, but we may well have to set to with the acetone again at some point.


  1. I posted this by mistake on your first post so I'll try again where you might see it. :)

    I am thoroughly enjoying your blog and it is being followed by members of http://www.cunardcritic.co.uk/forums/

    Some of our members will be on the 5th Annual Voyage of the British Isles on 15/10/09 and would love to meet you. If you have the chance, visit the site online. And keep up the good work!

  2. One of our posters on the Cunard Critic site asked me to post this--he is blogcomment challenged. :)

    Hey Gadget,
    I hope that the realization that strangers are reading your blog has not discouraged you from continuing. We are neither critics nor tattle-tales; we are your future passengers. With luck, one day you may read a post that begins: "I always look forward to sailing with Captain Gadget because her blog as a QM2 cadet sold me on cruising."

    Hope to hear from you soon again,