05/05/2010 - Survey Day

As on most exam days begin, this one was grey and rainy, our muster briefing was focussed on the visit by the transport Canada surveyor (and one other who I forget) and how everything was to look as nice as possible for their visit at 10am,… the sly gits showed up at about 08.30!  So while we were deckwashing, the mate and the surveyors went over some paperwork.  There was a lot of standing around today as the surveyor went around surveying, and I watched nervously through the corner of my eye as he went round kicking at each freeing port to ensure they were swinging freely, as my only real job the previous day I took real pride in ensuring they were all working correctly and would have been mortified if they hadn’t!  After each kick of the 14-odd freeing ports, he nodded surreptitiously to himself and seemed happy with my work, I relaxed!


The trainees started to natter amongst ourselves as we noticed a rather drunk individual passed out in a shopping trolley at the end of the dock, curiously dressed in bright orange foulies,.. on closer inspection this was the 165lb “man overboard” doll that they had brought with them.  Via commented that he should be comfortably tucked up in his bunk as he was obviously too drunk to be working, and after rather unceremoniously dunking this poor fellow into the water at the end of the dock the “Man Overboard” cry was broadcast and we scrambled into action. As everyone ran to and fro, the signallers went aloft to point to the man overboard from a higher vantage point, the rescue boat operators donned their bright orange garb and dashed out into the tempestuous ocean (played in this instance as a glassy wind and wave free mirror-like pond) I ran to my lines and pretended that we were preparing all the sails for immediate furling… I won’t pretend I didn’t feel a little impotent as everyone else played out their roles, throwing out life belts, launching rescue boats etc. as I pretended to play with sails,… felt a bit extraneous to tell the truth, but in the real event I suppose our job would be very important in bringing the ship to a stop!


After a “fire on board” and “Abandon ship” drill, things quietened down a bit and just before lunch the 2 surveyors (an English guy and a scot) gave us their opinion and were very impressed, especially in our additional fire pump that actually worked (apparently not many do!) and our ability to recover the man overboard in under 2minutes 30 seconds!!  Well done us!


The afternoon was mainly spent loading the bags of cement onto the truck, and then unloading them onto the dock, there are 100 bags of cement each weighing 25 kgs and as part of the chain, I passed every single one of them up to the truck,… I have always hated shoulder presses, yet this afternoon, I managed not only 100 shoulder presses up to Shawn on the truck, but 100 should lifts as I lifted each one to pass down to the dock,.. I am knackered!!!


Imagine then my glee after shifting bags of cement around, that I was to help transport the books for the South African school from the 3rd floor of the warehouse to the dock,.. another few hours pulling on lines and tackles (pronounced tay-ckle apparently) ensued,.. I wonder what my weight is now,.. I must have lost some weight surely!  Although my love handles don’t seem to have reduced at all!


We were given our shifts today, I am on the 8 till 12 shift, which means that I will be on duty from 8am to 12pm and 8pm to 12am… this is a great shift to start on, because essentially it takes me back to my daily Spanish timetable! Plus we get more or less normal sleeping hours and all afternoon off!  The others on my shift are a good bunch too, so that helps!  Since we are all still in port, we are going to act as though we are on “dock watch” which means that one “watch” (i.e. 8-12, 12-4 or 4-8) will be on duty for 24 hours,.. with one person awake for every hour at night.  I have to be on duty on Friday, which is fine since we will be leaving on Saturday and the captain has warned us against pre-sail-setting drinking!


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