Day 161

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Friday, February 23, 2007

I missed brekkie, 7.30am is early though and it's not like I'm working! During the afternoon I wandered around a bit more of the boat, getting to the very front where you could really feel the ups and downs as the hull hit the waves. Sometimes a spray of water would come over the side and   get you but it was fun as long as I kept my camera out of the way.

I went out to one of the balconies and saw a sight I'd seen a few moments earlier. This time though some of the crew were pointing so I asked what it was. I'd already seen the smoke and it looked like an oil rig from a distance or some machinery bellowing out smoke. The Philippino guys were more concerned and told me it was a container boat on fire. The distance was only about 15 miles and as we got nearer I could make out a helicopter and a few Navy rescue boats so it was more serious than I'd thought. As the group left to go back to work I spoke to one for a while longer. We went in for coffee where the rest of the crew were and I was centre of attention for a while explaining to the guys what I was doing on this trip etc. They spoke great English and they said they were having a bit of a party later on and invited me along. I wondered what kind of party it could be out at sea without a woman in at least 600 miles! Chris lent me a couple of dvds to watch in the Officer's Smoking Room. That room doesn't smell of smoke and has a decent sofa, a TV, and plenty of dvds - all in Russian!

Later on, after dinner, I was out on one of the balconies taking photos unwittingly next to the Crew's Smoking Room. They'd already started with their party and called me in. I'd already had two of my beers and was happy to join them. I met Jess, the cook, and all the other guys including Joel, Lito and Artemio. I have to name them here or their names will be lost to me forever. We had a surprisingly good time having beers (their beers) and talking. After a while the guitar came out and we had a sing song with Joel and Jess the guitar players. Jess's one ambition in life is to see Paul McCartney play live. Once he's done that he can die a happy man he told me. I told him I'd seen him a couple of years ago at Live 8 - I hope he gets his turn. They told me about a recent passenger called Barbara. She had travelled to Australia from England overland to attend her sister's wedding. She was doing it to reduce the level of CO2 produced from her trip. More and more people are thinking about their "Carbon Footprint" and helping to reduce CO2 emissions by travelling more by land. I'm not doing that, in fact I'll be back on planes pretty soon but I like the idea and will be thinking more about the environment in future. I've met a few people along the way, for whom, this is a big topic. I told my friend Neil in Thailand about these "Eco-warriors" and he replied "What are they so worried about??"! So then they got out a magazine article from "Take 5" one of those woman's chat magazines. Barbara was there and was detailing the trip including her time on the Theodor Storm. I recognized Barbara immediately - I'd found her website when researching this trip.

I was relieved to find some people on the boat that I could talk to and have a good time with. I knew it wouldn't be like this every night as they have to be careful about the booze they consume. Not because they're on duty or anything but because the 15 crates put on board in Singapore have to last the officers and crew one month. On hearing this I felt bad for buying one crate for my own six days! Each time I offered to bring my own down they refused saying "Philippinos love to be hospitable". I did bring my own only after I'd left the party to go to toilet.

The weather so far on the voyage has been great. The sea has been relatively calm and there's been very little rain. Today we worked our way through the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java so we're now in the Indian Ocean. Jess told me that when the sea gets up and everyone is being sick from sea-sickness he only serves porridge!! That's because it's cheap and if it's coming back up anyway..... Apparently they have only have a modest budget per person per day which makes the galley effort even more impressive.

I went to bed feeling happy that I'd found some friends. I'd still spend a lot of time alone doing my own thing and watching Chris's dvds but it was good to now I had some pals on board.
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