Thursday, 16 December 2010

One minute you're eating lobster on a beach, next you're scrubbing decks..

I wrote last as we sailed from Mayreau (and yes Mum, I sent your love to Mayreau!) The next day was a sea day, 2/O sails took us round the ship showing us the various workshops, lockers and stores that the ship has. It’s not a very big ship compared to my last one so it didn’t take too long. In the afternoon we cracked on with identifying mystery vents with the aid of the engineers down in the ECR and were going to get the stencils and box the job off that afternoon. As I walked along the bridge deck I passed a couple of deck guys painting the scuppers, a little further along we passed a vent and I thought, “Ah yes, that’s cofferdam 3… No, hang on, that’s further back… didn’t I already do this one!?” The deck mafia had painted over our lovely stencils! I nearly cried, but at least they’d only done two before we noticed, and they’ve promised not to do it again. We couldn’t paint on wet paint so left it for the next day, and the C/O had another fun little job for us – sorting out certificate files. The job is proving to be more of a pain than it sounds, we’re having to hunt things down and it seems to get more complicated every time we look at it! It does mean that we’re getting to poke around on the ships maintenance computer system, which is huge and complicated, but not as scary as I thought it would be.

From now on I’m going to break this down into days, it’s easier for me as I use my daily log as a basis for this, which will be going into my workbook, so isn’t very exciting as it is, but I’ll add in the fun stuff for you!

10th Dec- Dominica
We were anchored off Portsmouth already when I got up to the bridge, but the Captain decided to move the ship closer to the tender berth. I went fwd to the anchor station with the 3/O. There was a strong wind and when re-anchoring after moving the anchor dragged. We put an extra cable out and it held. Our new anchorage was right next to the berth I was on on Pelican 3 years ago. Seeing it brought back so many memories and I can’t wait to go ashore there again. We do the same two cruises again and again so there’ll be chances for me to see all of the islands at some point over the next 4 months, but for the time being, all I could do was look longingly over at the island as I worked. We had a fire drill and boat muster in the morning and the afternoon was taken up by the jobs the C/O has given us. The Captain invited all 4 of us cadets to dinner in the restaurant that evening which was really cool, we were joined by the Hotel Trainee and the Windstar Publicity Director, who was on the ship for the week. I had caviar for starter and then mahi-mahi, followed by a chocolate terrine. Needless to say it was all extremely good! Straight after that we went to watch the crew show, which is put on by crew members for the guests; dancing, magic tricks; bands and at the end, line dancing, which S and I had been rehearing for earlier. I stayed at the back, cos I’m still not very good at it, but it was good fun. We stuck around for a drink upstairs and then went down to the crew bar for the first round of “Windsurf’s got Talent”. Al had entered, playing his guitar, he’s really good, so I wasn’t surprised when he was one of the 4 (out of 6) that got through to the final. I couldn’t really hear what the judges were saying to the contestants, but 2/O Sails, who was playing it like Simon Cowell certainly got some boos! After the contest various crew bands played and we danced like crazy fools for the rest of the night. (I had a stiff neck the next day from when I was moshing!!)

Dec 11th – St Lucia.
We carried on with the projects from the C/O in the morning, S went ashore to try and find some safety boots (still no luck) so I carried on with the wires project and we checked some more PPE lockers when she got back  (another of the fun little jobs we’re doing for the C/O). At lunch time the C/O told us to take the afternoon off, so we went to the beach bbq on Pigeon Island. Oh it’s a tough life I tell you, crew are allowed to use the loungers as long as they keep away from passengers and don’t prevent them from using them, and after 1330, when all the passengers have eaten, the crew get to eat too. There’s a huge selection of salads and meats, at the end of the meat options there was one dish with it’s lid down, further investigation showed it contained lobster tails, and next to it was a steak station, with lovely juicy steaks being carved off a hunk of meat. So steak and lobster for lunch it was, and very delicious it was too. All 4 of us cadets swam and enjoyed the sun and generally pondered on our extreme good fortune to be on this ship!

Dec 12th – Barbados
We watched 2/O Sails go up the mast first thing, he inspects one mast a month and is hoisted aloft on the capstan next to the mast, which is specifically for that purpose. He has two lines, one hoist and a safety line which is kept just a little bit slack. We didn’t watch him do the whole inspection though as we were needed by J2/O (LSA) and 3/O to help with the manual remote watertight door testing. Initially I went to the doors that were closing to visually check that they were closing properly and S stayed up in the safety room to help with the pumping. She found it very hard though and was sent to join me and we checked each section as it was closed together. Once each section had been closed we had to go down to the engine room and manually open the doors down there. It was hot work running about the ship and pumping doors and I was dripping like a tap! In the afternoon we carried on with the C/O’s projects, and then, as the ship wasn’t sailing until 2200 we went to the Boatyard. When 2/O Navs asked if we wanted to go, I wondered why the hell I’d want to go to a boatyard, until he explained that it was a beach bar in Bridgetown. After checking with the C/O if it was ok to chip off a bit early we raced down to our cabin and got ready in minutes. It was a short taxi ride to get there, and worth every cent. The beach is perfect, fine white sand and crystal clear water, the bar serves a mean rum punch and happy hour runs from 11-12 and 3-10!! A few hours later we returned, some more worse for wear than others, I just felt extremely chilled out and sleepy and decided to curl up in my bunk instead of going to the crew bar with everyone else.

Dec 13th – Sea day
First thing we were tasked with scrubbing oily footprints off the deck which had appeared outside the safety room, the shoe prints weren’t actually ours (different sole), but that’s a cadets life, you get blamed for most things that go wrong and you gotta roll with the punches. We scrubbed all the places where there were mucky footprints, which was outside most of the technical spaces so it took us all morning. It’s not all beaches and cocktails you know!! The afternoon was a fairly dull affair, the projects that the C/O has given us keep getting more and more complex and I can see exactly why he’s delegated them to us- they’re a complete pain!

Dec 14th – St Martin
We were both up at 4 for the 4-8 watch, we were coming alongside, so S went fwd with 2/O Sails for mooring stations and I stayed up on the bridge keeping the rough log and plotting positions. We did day work til 12 working on the PPE locker project, visiting security to find out what spares they have and then updating the list on the computer. So by 12, we’d done our days work and had the rest of the day free. I had a little snooze as I’ve found it hard to sleep for a couple of nights due to the noise of the engine. It’s alright when they’re only using the port propulsion motor or sailing, but when the stbd propulsion motor is going it’s so noisy in our cabin and I can’t sleep properly. My snooze plan didn’t really work very well and I only dozed, but it was better that nothing. S had run ashore as soon as possible, the lure of shopping had her all excited! I bimbled ashore at about 3, and got a water taxi across the bay, I went to the supermarket first and got some dhobi dust (that’s washing power to you landlubbers) and hunted for filter tips, to no avail. As I was walking along Front St I spotted Al and one of the 2/E’s sitting in a bar, and figured it would be rude not to join them. The 2/E had to go back for watch but I hung out with Al for the rest of the day, we went on another shopping mission and then went back to the bar for some food. I had Caribbean conch and dumplings, delicious, but extremely filling! (Al, being Scottish, had a pizza). More crew turned up a bit later as the ship was sailing at midnight, so we had a great night out, with much silliness and then when we returned to the ship we went to the crew bar and played pool and danced some more.

Dec 15th – St Kitts
S did the 4-8 watch and we both did day work until 12. The vent signs we painted are going to need a more permanent solution than painting signs in the scuppers as they get painted every month. We were going to cut paper stencils out and paint the labels on the gooseneck, but then one of the AB’s suggested to us that we use the sign router instead.  He showed us how to use it and we cracked on, although didn’t get very far as we got called to go and see housekeeping about formal uniform; they’re going to order some female jackets for us, which will be nice! I did the 4-8 watch this evening. I went forward on my own for weighing the anchor, the carpenter does the heaving and I gave the bridge information on the lead and weight on the cable. When I came back up the Captain complimented me on my radio procedure and clarity of information, a very nice little confidence boost! Once we were out and moving along the coast of St Kitts there was a bit of traffic and I started to get to grips with the radar equipment. I tried getting the sextant out to practice taking sights with it, but it was too dark and I gave up quite quickly, will try again next watch.

16th Dec- St Barts
Well I doubt I’ll have much luck with a sextant tonight as it’s been cloudy and raining on and off all day. We had another fire drill this morning, and S and I have just been cracking on with our little jobs, hopefully we’ll manage to finally box some of them off soon! I’m on the 4-8 watch again this eve so am just going to post this up and then get some kip for a couple of hours.


  1. Sounds like you are having a really really terrible time! Am still pea green, and would like to know when you have organised my free week on board....

  2. Thanks, Gadget. Breaking down by days is good, stay with it. BTW, one way to encourage comments is to reply to comments. Just a thought, but it seems to work on other blogs I follow.

  3. Wave at the Caribbean for me, I've got caught up in the snow nonsense and have to join in Southampton now, so I'm missing the Caribbean and heading straight down South America way :-(

  4. Hey Guys! Sorry for not checking in here sooner, you'll be glad to know that it's because they're working me hard. I had a suprise early watch this morning, and I'm shattered, but I am in the process of getting the last week or so in order for you, however, right now, sleep beckons!