Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week 10 - a Sailing We Will Go

Like many weeks on the ship this week alternated between crazy busy and quiet times. There was time for a run or two and to watch an episode of Downton Abbey. There were social times with crew, in the "Party Palace" and at a nearby area of nature. In the town it was interesting to see the crocuses of March have been replaced by tulips. 

For busy times we had more daysails inluding one that was a buffet dinner for 50 or so. 

We also had a daysail with the students that sailed with us to Frederikshavn, unfortunately the weather was rough again and the funnels and scuppers were busy places. But I think overall they had fun. Those who were able to work went aloft and we tacked the ship with all available hands. 

We did some more drills and motor sailed the ship to Arendal. It was a beautiful day for sailing and the timing was right for me to go aloft to loose and later furl some sails. 

This week brings more daysails in Arendal, Grimstad and Lillesand. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Week Nine - Back to "Normal"

Great start to the week - on Wednesday Nadia and I had most of the day off to go exploring! Might as well take advantage of these quiet times because they aren't going to last.  We were advised to go to Skagen, the northern tip of Denmark.  Took the train there and back and in between did a lot of walking.  We started off walking on the walking/shopping street and reveled in the novelty of having time to browse leisurely and not have to rush back for some food related reason.  That took up most of the morning and we made up a lunch from grocery store items and buns from a bakery.  Then we took off again, out of town and along the beach to a nature park area.  The beaches in the park were fairly busy but the ones to get there were quite deserted and we enjoyed stopping to take pictures, look at rocks, etc.  At the park we couldn't face walking all the way to the northern tip of the country but we did climb a hill (I use that term fairly loosely but Denmark is such a flat country any change in elevation counts as a hill) to at least see the tip.  We took the easier roadside walk back to town and finished off the day with an ice cream and Skype session.

creative selfie set up

The following day we took the ship out to sea for engine trials in the morning.  Everything went well and after a small crew change we headed out in the afternoon to get back to Norway.  With just 17 people on board it was a lighthanded transit but took less than 20 hours.  A lighthanded deck department means that there was more use for a galley girl on deck and I got up for an hour or so of night watch during which we set 3 triangular and 2 square sails.  Setting squares means going aloft and it though it might sound strange if you haven't done it, going aloft to work in the middle of the night, in the dark (no flashlights, it messes up your night vision) is amazing.  After all that sail handling I did a short stint on helm before heading down to get some rest before breakfast.

Once we got back it was full steam ahead to get ready for our first day/evening sail of the season.  Tables to set up, fish soup to finish off, provisions to take on, cleaning and polishing and making ready for our guests besides the usual feeding crew business.  The sail went well and people seemed to enjoy themselves as we cruised through the fjords, I didn't have much time to admire the scenery but as we'll be doing these trips for the next 6 weeks or so I'm sure I'll get a chance.

A day to recover/prepare and then into Norway Day (17th of May) madness.  We had open ship from 11-6 which included a bar and fiske soup sales on deck and a full buffet, with two seatings, in the banjer.  It was busy busy busy but overall organized chaos I think!  Lots of people came dressed in traditional folk dress and if I'd had more time it would have been interesting to talk to people about where their clothes come from (different parts of the country have different styles of dress) and if they, or a family member had made their outfit and inspect the embroidery and knitting that so many displayed.

Today (Tuesday) we did another day sail, this one just in the afternoon and all we had to serve was coffee so that was quite easy and I was able to take in some of the scenery.  At the end of the day we gathered on the dock and inflated an old life raft.  It was interesting to see how it worked and explore all the contents: drinking water from 1985, triangular bandages with instructive diagrams, short stubby paddles, rock candy, a flashlight, knife, etc. etc.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week Eight - Still In Denmark 2.0

How can you tell when you're ship's been in port too long? When birds start building nests on your yards! (That happened.)

The most exciting news this week is that Nadia arrived on Friday! We are sharing a cabin this year and are looking forward to many good times this summer. While we are waiting here in Denmark Carsten took some time to go home but he is back and the 2014 galley team is reunited!

The cabin Nadia and I share is known as the "Party Palace" due to it's large size. We hosted social times the other evening and I think we had 12 people in our cabin  at once. Good thing the hatch can open!

Weather continues to be not that great with small intervals of sunny and pseudo warmth. Sunday was one such time and the timing worked out that I was able to go aloft and help bend on a new sail. First time I've been aloft this rotation and it was great to be back working in the rig.

I've been doing some woodworking this week, making "fiddles" to help contain our suicidal plates. Confused? In the banjer the plates are stowed in spring action sections like you'd have at a buffet, so as plates are removed the bottom moves up and a new plate is always accessible rather than having to reach way down. 

Great in theory but in heavy seas it all gets very exciting and plates jump onto the floor. So I've been working on some wood pieces that we can slot into the top of the springy sections and hopefully keep the plates in their place. 

Other downtime projects have included counting dishes etc on board. Found we have 31,000 toothpicks so that should be good for a while.

This coming week should see us heading back to Kristiansand and starting fjord tours - good chance to use up some of those toothpicks! (If you were wonderig I'm counting the weeks starting on Tuesdays as that's the day I started this rotation.)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week Seven - Still in Denmark

This week we celebrated a birthday on board! Of course I made a cake (chocolate) and then for dinner most of us went out to a nearby restaurant. It was to get off the ship for a meal and eat something different than our usual fare (if you were wondering I had salad with smoked salmon).

In these quiet days I've had time to do some extra jobs like ironing table cloths ready for fjord tours and repurposing an old holey table cloth into some smaller pieces of fabric the right size for lining hotel and half pans.  There's a sewing machine on board (two really as there is a sail sewing one as well) and I hauled it out to do the hemming.  It was nice to be sewing again, even if it was for a quick and simple project.  Other extra jobs included cutting non-skid mats for various tables and shelves. You can see this working on a ship gig is really exciting!

I'm still doing a lot of baking.  As well as old favourites I like to try new recipes and this week I tried this new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It's a keeper for sure, even without the sea salt.  I also tried making donuts and that was successful as well.  I can't remember if I've made donuts before, I know I haven't on board and I don't do a lot of deep frying so it could be I hadn't but it was fun to try and since there were 14 of us to eat the results it wasn't an overwhelming amount of fried goodness to deal with.

I've been lucky this rotation that I can receive mail regularly through the ship's office.  Of course now that we are in Denmark and not just a few blocks away the mail delivery is less frequent but it still gets through! The last delivery came via Andre, a volunteer on board who went back to Kristiansand for a couple days to help them move the office.  

A few weeks ago I bought a pansy and this week I fashioned a plant holder for it so I can hang it in the hatch where hopefully it will get more light.

Looking for a nice place to go for a walk I was directed to the "Palm Tree Beach", just a few kilometres from the ship.  It was a nice walk but there were no palm trees! When I got back and mentioned my disappointment I was told it's too early for the palm trees to be "out" yet.  I guess they get put out in the warm weather (so... 8 weeks a year?) and it's not that time yet.  It was still a nice beachy walk and I hope to get back before we leave.

We had crazy wind one night (the internet said gusts up to 60 km/hour) and the night watch and mate on duty were kept busy tending lines and keeping the ship safe.  There's a mooring line right outside my cabin and it was squeaking away so loudly that I packed up my bedding and found a bunk in the banjer for the rest of the night!

And now I am looking forward to Nadia's arrival and lots of good times together!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Week Six - the Season Begins

So this was the week we started the sailing season. On Thursday we had about 50 students from a local international school join the crew and after intense familiarisation we set sail for Denmark. It was fairly rough and there was a lot of seasickness through the night. The next day we arrived in Frederikshavn around lunch time and that afternoon we loaded provisions as well as fuel. We were due to depart that evening but we didn't get too far before we had engine trouble and did an emergency anchor drop before getting a tug to help us back to the quay. 

And so here we are, still in Frederikshavn and we will be here for maybe another 2 weeks, it all depends how the repairs go. Of course this isn't the ideal situation but we navigated the situation safely and we are in a place where there are ship yards and resources to help us out. 

So that's the big news! Despite the change of plans I think the students had a good time. They still got to do a lot of sail training activities as well as explore a different country. Instead of pre-determined galley crew we asked for volunteers every day and that worked out really well. 

Other excitement is that Carsten arrived! If I've talked to you since last summer I'm sure you heard a Carsten story or two. So it's back to "it's better in Danish", lots of bad jokes and systems for everything. 

Before we left Norway I went to get a seafarer's health certificate. It was pretty much a non-event. Checked blood pressure, hearing, eye-sight and checked off a bunch off questions like "do you have asthma?" So now I'm good to go for 2 years. 

I'll finish with a quote of the week, "there's a man outside dressed as a pirate and I don't know what to do with him." I kid you not, I heard someone say this and the stranger thing is those who heard it didn't even blink an eye!