06/06/2010 - Seamanship Derby

At breakfast I decided I really needed a haircut, it had been a good few months since my last one and the heat and sweatiness meant that I constantly felt like I had dirty hair and an even dirtier pillow!  Maggie, the purser of the ship, is learning how to cut hair and after seeing her handiwork on a number of other crew members, decided to go for it.  It took mere minutes and was a very professional job, made even more remarkable given that it was carried out in 10-12ft seas!

Our watch was a very relaxed affair this morning, as it was a Sunday there was no ship work so we busied ourselves practising our lines, our knots, boxing the compass and doing maintenance on our belongings.  For me today’s job was to sew back together my sandals which were beginning to show signs of wear and tear and had begun to resemble roadkill attached to my feet.  I spent a good hour ensuring that all the stitches were more or less straight,.. my sandals now more closely resembled Frankenstein’s monster than roadkill, but at least they would now stay on my feet,.. or at least that’s what I thought.  Within a few minutes one of the stitches had come out as I realised that the synthetic twine I had used was not gripping itself and the knots were coming undone.  As I constantly remind myself, another day, another lesson learned!  Oh well, more to do for next Sunday’s maintenance hour!

It was announced that the seamanship derby was to begin at 15h and so after lunch our watch congregated on the hatch to go over our introductory skit.  Jo had spent a great part of the previous 2 day’s watches creating the “Real Housewife’s of the Picton Castle” which apparently Americans knew all about, but I had no idea.  To sum up, it is a reality version of desperate housewives and given that we are the “domestics watch” we were going to create a Picton castle version.  There were a lot of in-jokes and a little dressing up, but all-in Jo did a fantastic job and after a brief rehearsal and the distribution of sarongs (our uniform apparently!) we were ready.

At 15h a general muster was called and before long the hatch was filled with trainees and crew alike, all dressed up in line with their watch’s skit theme.  The 12-4’s went first with a bizarre “we do it in the dark” rap song which was actually very amusing.  The 4-8’s version of “then I got stoned” needed a little more rehearsal, and to be honest went on a bit,.. but was also very funny.  Our watch carried out the Housewives of Picton Castle skit with aplomb, some of the jokes were well received, but a few were a little too subtle for our audience’s obviously crude taste and were missed but all in all a good performance and we earned enough points with our bribe of home-made marshmallow rice crispy things to earn us an acceptable 2 out of 3 points.  As we discovered our competition had made a real investment in bribes and we stood empty handed and looking a little frustrated as watch after watch handed out cold beers to the judging panel and earning extra points for each one!

The following challenge was a “pin chase”, now we had been led to believe that a line/rope would be called and we would have to run to it (except of course you never run on board, only “walk sharply”).  This was the case in only about 2 of the 20-odd chases! There were bizarre ship parts that even some of the pro-crew had never heard of, the second mate shouted out a fishing line, the captain yelled out some ship parts in Norwegian and general confusion ensued as people misheard lines and ran in the wrong direction, Bob even sat down in a huff and refused to play as she deemed it “a silly game” and was only brought out of her sulk when chocolate cake was promised at dinner.

Some people got overly competitive as this part of the event developed and there were bloodied shins, people slipping over on deck and not a small amount of pushing and shoving on the way up the stairs to the quarterdeck

For the next challenge all the mates uncoiled all the lines on the hatch and welldeck and each watch was timed on how long it took to coil all the lines, the judges then evaluated the quality of the coils,.. we kicked arse on the time, but apparently our quality was a little lacking, and despite bring my speakers on deck in the hope of gaining some style points we were robbed and given a paltry 33 points.  However, we brought it home in the next two events, knot tying and boxing the compass, Bob even got us bonus point for being able to tie a bowline one-handed behind her back!!  A secret talent that no-one knew she had!

The final event was a bucket race, which involved dunking a bucket over the side and filling a tote with water, the first team to fill it wins.  Despite losing a member of our team who injured herself and having a bucket with a hole, we still did sterling work and came in second.

Once the final scores were tallied, we came second overall, but as Sophie pointed out, ours was a moral victory, the other teams had to rely on bribes to ensure their points, yet we didn’t use such underhand tactics and still came a close second… it was mentioned that the watches may rotate and we would soon find ourselves reorganized and allocated to new watches with new watchmates, I have to say I am quite content in the watch as it stands and we all get on well… hope we don’t change soon!

This evening we are “retarding” the hours, despite sounding like a non-pc way of insulting people this actually means that we are reorganizing the watches relative to the new time zone as some watched cannot do their allocated ship’s work as the sun either comes up too late or sets too early.  To this end, each watch will extend their watch by 20 minutes and tomorrow all the clocks on board will go back by an hour.  For someone like me who gets confused just putting the clocks back and forward once a year, this was way too complicated and decided to just do what people told me to when they told me to do it,.. although it was made easier by the fact that my watch had broken and so I never know what the correct time was anyway!!

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