Sunday, January 20, 2008

Logbook: Freighter Days V

Day 11 - January 15th

Today was completely routine with not a thing of note. Seriously, all I did was read, walk the deck, watch "24 - Season 3" and eat. Freighter life at sea is just right for me!

Freighterdaysv1Day 12 - January 16th

Only two things of note today. The first is that the ship's clock moved forward another hour, yet again in the afternoon. Cookie is bummed, but we enjoy our conspiratorial winks. I'm not sure, but I think we must be ahead of the actual clock by now. Perhaps the Captain is accelerating us so that we will be better acclimated by the time we reach port in Australia. I don't know, but there's something going on with the clock thing. I'll keep you posted! The second event of note is that we crossed the equator this evening, already my third crossing so far on The Voyage. It was the first crossing for my fellow passengers, and although there was no "initiation ceremony" for them, we did all gather together with Randy and Cookie for a small celebration to watch Aldo's GPS count down to zero, toast the crossing and have some good laughs.

Day 13 - January 17th

The ship's "library" is a cupboard in the salon, crammed full of a very eclectic assortment of books in many languages. I took a look in it the other day and happened to find one that looked pretty interesting titled "The Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers." It is written by a young man who went to work for the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1930's at an outpost in Arctic Canada and chronicles his experiences living among the Inuits. I started reading it after breakfast this morning and became so engrossed by it that I had read it cover to cover by the time the day was done. Unexpectedly finding such an outstanding book and having the entire day free to read it is something that makes Freighter Days so great. (Note: I very highly recommend the book and will put it on my Amazon list!)

Day 14 - January 18th

We had yet another safety drill this morning, and by now we can pretty much do it in our sleep. It turns out that this is a weekly exercise, so by the time my freighter days in another couple of weeks I may well be doing it that way! The clocks were advanced yet again this afternoon, and by now I am certain that we are "ahead of ourselves." I've recently had the chance to have a couple of brief interactions with the Captain, and it turns out he's a pretty nice guy after all. I may ask him what's up with the "clock thing" and will report my findings if I do. Other than that, it was a "routine" day at sea.

Freighterdaysv2Day 15 - January 19th

Today was "routine" until the evening when we all gathered on the main deck aft for the monthly "all hands" BBQ party. I was hoping it would be a chance to really mix it up with the crew, so I was a little disappointed when I saw that the area was set up for the usual "segregation" with the Captain, officers and passengers at one table and the crew at another. We even had separate grills! We grilled our own meat -- though Randy did his best as always to see that none of us had to exert ourselves too much -- and ate in a mixed ambiance of blue sky and stiff breeze, party music and engine noise, European and Asian style food. The Captain ate fairly quickly and excused himself from the party, which I took as my cue to finish eating, change seats and join the crew table. Within seconds we were in full flow, quickly moving away from "Where are you from?" to "What's up with the US dollar?" and on from there. Oh, yeah, and we also started drinking in earnest. The crew had a cooler of beer thanks to their monthly $50 party allowance and a bottle of brandy compliments of the Captain. Not particularly caring for either of those options, I went to my cabin and grabbed a bottle of scotch I had gotten from Randy out of the "slop chest" and brought it back to the party. As some of the crew mixed the brandy with Fanta orange soda -- Yuk! -- they were intrigued by my drinking the scotch in its proper "neat" fashion. They couldn't really grasp the concept so I held a brief, impromptu "whiskey drinking seminar" and before long had a couple of stalwart partners in crime. The music was turned up and the dancing began, with Charlotte being a really good sport and dancing practically non-stop with every guy on board. After several hours of great fun and solid partying, I called it quits in the wee hours of the morning and left the festivities continuing in full swing -- I found out later -- until almost five in the morning.

Day 16 - January 20th

As you might imagine, it was pretty quiet on board today as most of us recovered from the party last night. As I had hoped, though, the event has morphed our interactions with the crew from cordial greetings in passing to a much richer mixture of sly smiles, knowing looks, pantomimed re-enactments of shared moments and all the other manifestations of closer connection that come from having had fun together. Once again, I am profoundly aware that no matter their cultural origin, people are people, people want to have fun, and fun is good!

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