15/05/2010 - The Storm Hits

Almost no sleep last night, as soon as watch ended I headed to my bunk, but sleeping was almost impossible, an hour or so after turning in the storm really hit.  I felt like I was in one of those little water filled snow scenes that you shake, my sleeping bag is wonderfully warm, but made of synthetic materials, which means it is quite slippy,.. I felt like I was trying to sleep on warm ice as every wave slammed me into the bunk walls on one side and threatened to throw me across the room on the other!!  I could hear people swearing throughout the night as they rapidly discovered their personal belongings weren’t quite as well lashed down as they thought and spilled out over them!  The gentle lapping of waves against my bunk wall had been replaced by what seemed like someone with a sledgehammer who pummelled against the hull at random intervals.  Suffice to say, the watch changes were not the subtlest with people slipping and sliding into things followed by expletives normally in line with the loudness of the thuds, foulies being removed and donned with the associated zipping of zips and ripping of Velcro.

Suffice to say, I didn’t sleep much,. I took comfort in the knowledge that not many others did either!

Galley duty today,.. now on any normal day, galley day is essentially a day off, listening to music, washing up, helping Donald, chilling out between meals.  Today, however was something else altogether.  At 06.15 I was “woken” by Clark in full wet weather gear, I say “woken” as I hadn’t really slept!  The wind was at a force 6 gusting 7, the swell was at about 15ft and midships was almost constantly underwater.. it was fantastic weather, great fun and a real experience, at the beginning it even made galley duty kind of fun, skidding across the deck with one hand securing 40-odd bowls and the other gripping the security rope strung across the deck as wave after wave plunged over the bulkheads.  It was like trying to negotiate the London underground at rush hour wearing roller skates and carrying trays of valuables whilst having buckets of water thrown at you from various angles and without warning!

Time In the scullery could be best likened to trying to wash up whilst on an oscillating ice rink,  you had to time the movement on the boat with the direction in which you needed your cutlery, bowls etc to head towards or away from the sink.  Then there was the unanticipated wave that sent everything flying quite literally into the air and the galley crew into each other,.. there were many bruises and cuts suffered throughout the day.

Due to feeling a bit queasy indoors I made myself useful by manning the sea-sink i.e. the pre-wash sink.  This is a sink attached to the bulwark and filled with seawater using a bucket thrown over the edge.  Filling the bucket was an experience in itself, the water level could either by 20 feet below you, or 2 feet (or no feet as I discovered!) depending on where the ship is on the wave in question.  This made it tricky to gauge when the bucket was going to fill, and it was either left dangling in mid-air, or filled to the brim and pulled under the boat (and me with it!) on a number of occasions.  Now once the sea sinks were full it became a battle of wits as to how long they would stay full, me against mother nature,..  there were 2 issues, as the boat listed heavily to port, the water would quite literally pour out of the sinks onto the deck as they were turned pretty much 90 degrees, then as the boat listed heavily to starboard the pressure of the water would force air or seawater up the drains and push the plugs out ensuring that as soon as the water receded a few feet, the water would simply drain out…  I did feel like I was fighting a losing battle, and the frequent unexpected drenchings didn’t help,.. looking up from my dishwashing into the face of a huge wall of blue water left me looking a little like a drenched cat.  Despite all this, it was a lot of fun,.. until about 6pm when after 12 hours of fighting against the elements all three of us galley crew, Nadia, Clark and myself had had enough.  If one more dish had been brought to the scullery I think the owner would have left wearing its contents!  Big shout out to Jon (Now named Josh) who brought us 3 very well deserved beers at knocking off time!

We decided that the “extreme dishwashing” was akin to polar ice treks whilst playing chess in its intricacy and the need for mental and physical dexterity!

The weather was exciting and fun, but thank god it was warm otherwise it would have been bloody miserable.  The water was now a crystalline blue and we were definitely heading south!

There were a few bad seasickness cases over the night and throughout the day Brad threw up pretty much constantly, we even had a board up in the bro-cave documenting how long it had been since his last upchuck!  The weather didn’t only provoke illness though and Niko got his hand trapped when one of the heavy watertight doors slammed shut as the boat listed to starboard, the resulting wound left blood all over the bro-cave, the door and necessitated 8 stitches and has rendered poor old niko pretty much useless for the next 10 days! 

I presented myself at the 20h muster for our watch even though I didn’t have to work thanks to my galley duty and announced that I was going to bed,.. it was sweet of Lorraine to shout out,.. “we miss you Liam!”  I went to bed and conked out pretty much instantly!

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