Sunday, 26 June 2011

Day 3 (2nd of October)

Another day, another hour stolen from us (but we’ll receive it back on Tuesday take 2). After a very nice egg on toast breakfast we went on an hour-long tour of the engine rooms. The young Filipino engineer was meant to be showing us round, but couldn’t be found, apparently because he was too excited about the barbecue scheduled for the evening. Being very noisy we had to wear some nice ear protection, which meant that our engineer guides had to do a lot of shouting at us, some of which we heard. They are particularly proud of their 12 cylinders; the biggest ships have 14. There were a lot of machines and a lot of knobs and switches.

Amongst other things we saw the sewage treatment tank, the engine, the CO2 room (where there are rows and rows of canisters to be used if there is a fire), the coffin (to store a dead body in should there ever be one), the water purification system, the back-up generator (which is really rather small) and a hole in the floor that goes nowhere (because it’s a Korean ship and shoddily built). The number of crew is being continually cut and there isn’t time to stop all the bits going rusty.

We also saw the room where the air conditioning is controlled. Air conditioning is a matter of discontent on most of these cargo ships since there is only one control. The Europeans want normal temperatures but the Filipinos are happiest at 30°C. But we’ve been told by the chief engineer that we can decide how warm we want it. There is a corridor that runs beside the engine rooms from the bow to the aft of the ship, which saves them slipping and sliding along the deck in bad weather. In a storm it is apparently interesting to go down there and realise that you can’t see the end of the ship.

Following our tour we took our spots at the bow ready to spot some marine life in the Japanese waters. By 10.25a.m. we had seen two whales, about six dolphins and numerous birds, including laysan albatrosses. Unfortunately it slowed up after that and feeling cold we trudged back upstairs a bit before lunch to warm up. Lunch consisted of tofu pieces with potato pieces and some kind of vegetables. After lunch we retired again to the purser cabin for DVD watching and reading.

Jenny glanced out the window and saw a blow from a whale, so we grabbed binoculars and Jenny her camera and rushed out the door at the end of the corridor. The two whales were coming closer and closer, but I couldn’t stay to see them come even closer because it was just so cold outside.

At 5.30p.m we made our way to the small outdoor seating area on E deck where the party was attempting to get into full swing. There was an entire roasted suckling pig, which is a Filipino favourite. The vegetarian couldn’t of course resist taking a picture of it.

Flags were hung on the walls and Max had to go inside and find his British Colombia flag to make us feel more at home. We got a bowl of rice with fried egg, peas and onion in it as well as a bowl of pasta with mayonnaise and raisins. We also had some garlic bread and skewers of mushroom, pepper, aubergine and courgette. The sailors of course had plenty of wine, beer and a bottle of gin. The music was loud and the sea creatures were probably all wondering what hit them. No dolphins were jumping out to watch the Filipino dancing though. It was extremely cold, but oddly it was the Europeans who were all donning jumpers, raincoats and hats, while the Filipinos sat there in their jumpers or T-shirts. Having munched my way through a lot of carrot sticks we didn’t want to shiver any further into the night and went inside to warm up with a game of ping-pong.

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