Monday, 13 February 2012

Day 4 (24/01/2012)

We slept well and long, although sharing the child size duvet is still a bit of a problem. Luckily in these overheated temperatures it’s not really a necessity. We could ask the steward for another cover, but he seems to be pretty busy trying to fit all his work into the shortened days. As soon as breakfast is over it’s the new nine o’clock. Once again we had fried eggs, cucumber slices and bread. Tomorrow I’m just having cereal or toast. I don’t like eating all these eggs, especially since this cook doesn’t seem to do as many inventive things with them like the one on the Hanjin Yantian. The grapefruit juice was still present.

Jenny and I then played some post breakfast ping pong, she must have been practicing in Vancouver, although she assures me that she hasn’t. I had to venture down the ladder into the now empty swimming pool to retrieve the ball at one point. Our longest rally is now 50, so we have to try and beat that.

We then waited around in our room till just after 10.20a.m. when the alarm sounded for the practice evacuation to the muster station. Gathering our immersion suits and lifejackets we went down the outside steps on the starboard (this is the right-hand) side to the muster station on deck A. Oddly everyone seemed to be there already, as though we should have gone before the alarm sounded, and as we found everyone in their orange hardhats realised we should have taken them out of the cupboard too and put them on before our descent. The assembled crew was much akin to a bunch of disorganised school kids. The second officer (in charge of safety) was meant to have thought up a scenario about a fire in the engine room, but claimed to have not have had the time to do so. No-one seemed too certain of their duties, although the steward was quite aware that he was meant to be looking after the passengers. The crew and passengers fumbled with the lights on their lifejackets, I don’t think I really got to the stage of understanding how to switch it on. It did not help matters that there are so many different nationalities on board and they all seem to have trouble understanding one another. I’m really hoping we won’t be having to evacuate the Flaminia for real.

‘Steward’ then proceeded to lead us up the seven flights of stairs to the bridge where the passengers were to hang around until the crew had completed all their procedures, including a boarding of the lifeboat, which we decided to decline the offer to participate in. From the charts it looks like the cold front is coming ever closer, and is occupying a large portion of the North Atlantic, the South of which Captain Czerwinski doesn’t seem to want to tell us that we’re heading into, he’s not denying it though. Perhaps it will be time to crack open the Piggly Wiggly cola soon and locate our sea sickness bands.

The Captain seems quite jovial and definitely not as scary as the Hanjin Yantian’s captain, despite being equally tall. While talking to us he was also keeping an eye on the ship and giving directions down his radio to the second officer regarding the evacuation drill. At one point he told the second officer he was busy with ‘passenger familiarisation’, but turned to us saying that he couldn’t really tell them he was drinking coffee. His daughter in Australia is a vegan, and he has tried being a vegetarian himself aboard a ship, but he seems to think it is very difficult. For some reason he seems to thinks that vegans need to eat six meals a day. Eating three alone seems to take up most of our time on the ship!

On the horizon an oil freighter was moving in front of us from right to left. They were trying to contact the MSC Flaminia with some instructions to keep a certain distance away. The captain did not seem to be too keen to converse to them, saying you don’t talk to every car you meet on the street and that the same principle should be applied to shipping. Before we knew it, it was lunchtime already.

There was noodle soup, followed by a potato with cabbage and onion, all rounded off with an orange. Grapefruit juice has been replaced with ‘all natural orange juice’, which appears to be from Cyprus. NSB must have an interesting buying policy. It tastes too good to be a just from concentrate juice, but since we never did master Cyrillic and never even thought about Cypriatic, we can’t be sure. I told the steward we could just eat bread and salad in the evening, I don’t think they need to go to all this effort for us.

More ping pong followed lunch. I got bored of bouncing the ball on the bat once I got to 322. Back in our room we had to try on our immersion suits, because the captain thinks they are probably too big. They did seem big and I felt rather clumsy in it, but we have no clue whether they are really too big or not. I think they seem o.k., the small Filipino’s have to wear these ones too, so I don’t see why we should be privileged with getting smaller ones. After the excitement of the immersion suits we managed to entertain ourselves for at least five minutes with counting our ginger cookies (Jenny says they’re biscuits but they’re Canadian so clearly they are cookies) and discussing how many we can eat each day. We have about seven days left and 34 cookies (they’re pretty small).

At some point we finally left for a wander around the deck. We are never really sure where to walk, because they seem to be working somewhere all the time. Taking a walk around 3.00 p.m., or 10.00a.m. is the best bet though, because that’s when they down tools and go in for tea break. They seem to be smoothing rust holes on the deck and proceeding to paint over them with red paint, followed by grey. This is being done at both ends of the ship. This arduous task didn’t seem to be necessary on the Yantian, because the rust hadn’t yet set in. The waves didn’t seem very high, but it still looks like we won’t be seeing any whales or dolphins with all these crests. In the distance we saw a seabird and yesterday a few gannets, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot out there. So then we went back to our room, Jenny reading and me writing. I have come to the conclusion that after my practice on Hornby Island I could do as good or better a job of the tiling in our cabin’s bathroom. I also can’t help wondering why the MSC Flaminia is a ‘she’ in English and a ‘he’ in German.

For supper we ate our salad and I had some quite delicious dill cream cheese from Houston on my German sourdough bread. The rest of the diners were having some spaghetti with a shrimp sauce, the spaghetti didn’t look like the extremely slippery kind we’d had on the Yantian. The captain was requesting more dill from cookie, before discussing something to do with the swimming pool with the Russian chief mate. It seems the poor man has to sit at the table with all the Poles while they talk Polish most meals. In addition to them there are I think three Germans and a Swede. As we ate we could hear the wind starting to batter the containers and feel the ship sway a bit more. Apparently the worst of the storms is moving at a faster speed than us towards Europe. That’s reassuring. But then there are another two…

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