Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Ongoing Saga

12/20/08 12:20 (military time, no more AM PM!)

I only have twenty or so minutes here, but time for a quick update. Every day here is like a new adventure.

Our Captain is going home when we get to Singapore. So, now, the most important mission in our life is sprucing up the ship for the incoming Captain. “Paint over rust! Paint over bare metal! Paint! Paint! Oh, and sweep too!”

A little more background here: Our ship was made in China. Most of these Asian built vessels have one thing in common; very poor construction and equipment. This one is no different. As with my experience on the barge that I brought over from Africa, the tools are cheap and bend or just out right break very easily. The ship’s steel itself is thin and rusts out at a surprising rate.
The poor equipment stretches to our safety gear. I am really glad that I brought my own safety glasses. As for our safety harnesses, they are below Western Standards also. The straps are thin, which would cut into your legs more than a wider strap if you should fall and have to hang from it. The safety lanyard is basically just a rope with a hook. US standards now include a lanyard that rips apart for a slower deceleration. Thus, incurring a less injurious stop (hopefully).
All of this is mentioned because I was once again tasked with the paint job on the foremast. “OK, no problem. I need a safety observer, a better lanyard and harness.” Surprisingly to me, I was told “Sure, just wait a few minutes.”

Well, ‘twas not to be. I waited that few minutes and then was given a hammer and told to go chip away on rust. LOL!! I was chipping away like a Pakistani shipyard worker (we don’t have compressed air, so no air tools for this little 3rd world ship), when the Captain passed by. A few minutes later is when sweeping became the most important job of the day. I can’t wait to see what this afternoon brings (it brought more sweepingLOL).

I haven’t even gotten started on the sanitation on this ship. Wow, you know it’s bad, if I am complaining. Where to start…..?

On most ships, everyone will have their own room, shower, toilet, etc. etc….Not here. We are two to a room (not the officers!) and having to share toilets and showers with anywhere from 3-4 guys. Not exactly an all together pleasant experience.

But my roommate and I try to be considerate of each other and that has worked out OK so far. The same with the toilet/shower situation. Everyone is stuck in the same boat (literally). So, we might as well work together to make the best of it.

Our galley (kitchen) is a non air conditioned not so clean looking area. A lot of it comes down to things beyond our cook’s control. The design of this ship fights us at every turn. And he has all galley duties to himself. He should have help. But he took the job, has been here before and knew what to expect. So, knowing that, he should put out more effort on cleaning and stocking snacks and such for us. That’s his only job.

If that weren’t bad enough, he reported on board with a horrible sickness that left him hacking and coughing to no end for the first two weeks. Seeing your cook hacking like that doesn’t make you feel much better either. Luckily it seems that he and we have survived that.

Our mess decks aren’t much better. That is where we sit down to eat. There are two little tables that we move around depending on who is sitting where. Usually the decks are sticky with something. Don’t ask me how long some of the stuff has been in the fridge there. I do know that the ham I threw out last week had expired in July!
Our coffee pot is ancient and slow. The poor machine is leaking and groaning. It sounds like it is just begging to be taken outside and shot. But it’s all that we have.
Lunch break is over. Until later….

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