Nothing much has happened today. The ship remains at anchor, so we spent the day relaxing. Our current estimated time of arrival in Freeport is some time tomorrow morning. With the engine shut down and a lack of moment on the ship, the crew are busier than ever performing tasks that can only be done with the main engine down or during calm seas. The deck crew have been sanding down rust spots in the deck and repairing them. This has meant that our regular walks around the deck have been curtailed to allow them room to work.
Much of the equipment on board is familiar to us from smaller boats, only the scale is much larger. The lines are the diameter of an arm, and it took us a few moments when we first arrived to recognize the waist-high cylinders were cleats. The anchor cable is similarly outsized, with each link larger than our heads.
The officers on board the ship are mostly from Germany, including all the engineering officers; however, of the four deck officers, two are not. The Second Mate is from the Philippines and the Third Mate from Poland. The crew is mostly from the Philippines. The approach to ethic relations seems to be different than we have experienced in Canada – and one that we believe is healthier. In our upbringing, we were taught that the appropriate behavior was to be “color blind”; that is, to not recognize that people are different. In some anti-racism training that Becky took through church, she was told that this is not a good approach, rather that differences should be recognized. She never really grasped what that meant, but we can see something similar in the healthy relations on the boat. The captain is proud of the Filipino crew and ensures that items in his slopchest (canteen) reflect their needs in addition to the needs of the predominately German officers. There is no tension between the deck officers of different backgrounds. They do speak of the different cultures, but it is in a straight forward factual manner, which feels like it honours the differences rather than criticizing them. Everyone appears to be relatively happy on board – they work hard and are proud of the work they do.
So far on the journey, the food on board has been excellent and plentiful. There are three fixed meals a day and two coffee breaks. Lunch and supper are both full meals, both being similar to what we would call supper at home. After several days, we are noticing that most meals involve a savory sauce. It is starting to get a little bit too rich, and we may need to ask for meals without the sauce. We are also planning to ask about eating some of the food that is served to the crew. It is more in an Asian style, where the officers’ food involves mostly German recipes.
On this ship, the officers mess (where meals are taken) has fixed seating. We sit with the other passenger (David). The engineering officers sit together with the third mate, and the captain and chief mate sit together. I believe the second mate would also sit at the captain’s table; however, he does not appear to take meals in the officers mess. The British couple on board do not take meals in the officers mess, rather they eat in their cabin. Meal time seems to be focused on eating and not on visiting. The officers often come in, eat, and leave. They do not spend time lingering over conversation. We on the other hand, often linger until the steward comes and tries to clear the tables and we find ourselves in the way!
We did attempt to send one email from the ship. There is no Internet on board, and email is sent from a global “ship” account that uses a satellite uplink. The captain sends the email and a printed copy is kept in the ships records – so there is no privacy in what you are sending. The cost of sending an email is about 40 Euro cents per page. We do not plan to use the ships email to update the blog, rather, we will compose messages while at sea and post them when we get to port if time and Internet access permit.
We noticeed that smoking seems to be permitted anywhere within the superstructure. The officers do smoke on the bridge but they do not smoke in the officers mess which is nice. We also find that the ventilation in the cabins is really good, such that we do not notice the Chief Mate chain smoking in his cabin next to us. The only sign of his bad habit is the occasional smell in the hallway.
As of this morning, our estimated time of arrival in Freeport is 1000 (10:00 am) on Wednesday, but our experience so far leads us to expect that to change.