Drydock ’08

The sweat drips from my nose, and splashes, sizzling, onto the soldering iron.

It’s roasting hot, and the cables are all around me, as squashed into a small space behind the audio rack I put the finishing touches to the new audio lines I just ran across from the desk opposite.

It’s dry-dock again.My third, now, and this time, I’m just not enjoying it.

I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment, what with trying to sort out many technical issues in the A/V equipment, and also get as much as possible done to allow us to expand and use what we have better throughout this coming year.

Also, the other members of the A/V team are busy with other projects, and I’m helping out a bit again with the deck ladder-repair and making crew.


That’s the sound that the lights make when blackouts happen.

We just had another powercut.

Vrum bzzzzzt! Klunk! Klunk! Klunkklunkklunkduhduhduhduh!

That’s the sound that the fanrooms make when the power comes back on again.

The power just came back on again, by the way.

So, anyway. Right.

Yeah, there’s another fairly huge but unofficial project on which has pretty much sucked all the free time out of one of my team for the last 10 months – even from well before he joined AV – and also has been increasingly impinging upon the time of the rest of us.

They created an(other) unrealistic deadline to finish it before the end of this drydock, and I knew he would push all his time and energy into it.

So I pretty much gave him his work time to get this thing finished.

Which is good, I guess.

I mean, he’s not dead, which if we’d pushed hard at the AV jobs as well, I think he would be.

He just wouldn’t have slept at all.

We barely did anyway.

I was up until 3 one night working on an animation for the project.


Many of the AV tasks I had (I wrote down 58 jobs I’d have liked to either do, or investigate the feasibility of) have not been done, and most of them I didn’t even get a chance to investigate how possible they were.

So.. somewhat frustrating.

The first version is done now, which is good.


Still plenty of logistics and miscommunication issues to sort out.


What else…

I’ve been making sure I keep time for myself, not burning out, and part of that includes focussing more on painting and artwork.. we’ve begun “creative communities” on board – basically an internal art/photography/creative writing club, with picking a theme per month.

The theme last month was “Freedom”.

This month it’s “Love”.

Here’s a painting of mine – “Searching for Love”

I helped out a bit with the ladderwork again this drydock.

Pretty much the same as last year.. this time we stretched the rope slightly more thoroughly.. Check out before and after stretching:

Quite impressive.

I feel somewhat drawn out and stretched myself.

I don’t think I’ll snap.. but hopefully I’ll be all the more resilient to whatever life throws at me in the future because of it.

And my current work in progress.

So. More about Cyprus. It’s wintertime, right now. That means cold. Freezing icy blasts of super-chilled air writhing and curling around in whirlpools of semi-defrosted almost-liquid oxygen, CO2, cigarette smoke, car fumes, and various other frigid things which make up common Larnaka air.

OK. So, slight exaggeration on the whole coldness thing. It was about 12 today, I guess. Still, that’s pretty cold, especially as it was about 37 when I left Doulos.

Also, Larnaka is really clean, mostly. Not so polluted at all. It’s beautiful, actually.

I’ve been helping a little at the theatre where I was working. This is the set from their new play “The History of Cyprus in 60 minutes”, which my dad and I helped set up the lights for last week. I also recorded it on video for one of the actors. I’d love to actually record it properly, with multiple decent cameras, tripods and so on. This was just a single home camera.

I’ve also been helping my dad a little at the office, doing a bit of logo/animation, and probably will do some more soon.

I’ve been helping him a bit more with his boat too, whipping/splicing/seizing, etc. This is the new out-haul block (I think. So many ropes on this little boat, I forget what they’re all for right now, as I’ve STILL not been out sailing on it…).

Anyway. It’s funny doing all this ropework on such tiny little ropes. Kind of like working on a model railway, or something. It’s nice though. I like it a lot.

Here is the new jib sheet (again, I think). We got this rig idea from his Wayfarer Book, and then I whipped it up. There are 3 seporate seizings to to make up this next piece. It should hold nicely, and will be good to work with. I’ve no idea how much pressure it’ll actually be taking, so I look forward to going out sailing soon to get more of an idea.

Today we also started work replacing the rudder stock. The old one is kind of shot, and so we’re making it almost completely afresh from (hopefully) marine ply. This is the old one (dismantled).

And here is the new one to be. We’ve jigsawed it, and now it’s being held and glued overnight so we can finish the two halfs and then start varnishing the pieces tomorrow, hopefully.
So, I’m still getting to use my Deckie skills. I miss ships so much. Maybe it’s just I miss Doulos… but I do miss ships. I miss sea-watch. I miss working with cargo, mooring stations, ropework, water tanks, painting, loading water, blocks and purchesses, bosun’s chairs, stages, all of it. *sigh*

Is it the work I miss, or is it just the people, my ship, my home of the last 2 and a bit years?

I feel part of it is the work. I also know I was so tired of it by the end. So tired of Deck Dept, so tired of the long hours and stress as waterman.

Will I ever do that work again? Except in Dry-docks on Doulos? Only God knows…

Last port (Pohang, South Korea), I went with a team to stay away from the ship for almost 2 weeks, living with local families, and working with them (doing programmes at schools, church meetings, etc, etc).

During a 2 year stay on Doulos, most people will go out for 3 teams like this. Some, like here, being very civilised, others (say in PNG or parts of North Africa), being much more out-back “jungle teams”. I was staying on my own with a family of four, and every day going to work with my team from 9am until late at night. I really enjoyed living with a family, again. They were so hospitable to me, and looked after me so well, also, they were very relaxed and friendly.
I was introduced to the father like this:

“Daniel, This is Elder Shim. You will be staying at his house.”

So I was a bit worried about how formal I would have to be. We’d been warned that Korean culture is very formal, and that on past visits of the ship, many westerners had caused problems, and had problems, due to the very low-context, low formal nature of the west, and also of the ship.

But I found it totally the opposite. Very easy to get along with, very friendly, very family. The parents sitting on my bed talking (even though I don’t speak Korean, and they don’t speak English!!), and the kids running around, doing a bit of puppetry with them.

It was one of the kids birthday while I was there, here is a photo.

As you can see, a nice cake (for breakfast!) and also much traditional Korean food. My hostess cooked amazing food every breakfast. I was so well fed. Lovely. Kimchi and rice for breakfast,
with rice and soup. Mmmmmmm.

One day she made kim-pap, kind of rolled seaweed paper with rice and crab and carrots and cucumber inside. I’d wondered how it was made. Now I know. They treated us so well, we went out for Korean barbecue 3 or 4 times, had much traditional food. So good. SOOO good! Anyway. A really good time. Really nice people.

Now I’m back on the ship, and have been for a week or two. Usual stressful running around, busy life.

I’ve been waterman for more than a year. Almost 13 months now. Amazing. It’s gone so fast. And I still quite enjoy it. I’m also really tired of it, though. Firstly the long days, and always
thinking ahead and being on-call whenever I’m on board, but also it’s not something I’m especially interested in, water tanks, locks, and all. I’m able to do it, and quite well, I think, and have learned a lot, and enjoyed it a lot. But I really want to change my job.

My first love work wise is still theatre and performance/art. I’ve been working with the videographer on board quite a bit, recently in my spare time, and also helping some with the AV/technical/sound/video people in our on board programmes team. I’ve applied for a couple of different jobs, on board, but at the moment it looks like I’ll probably be staying in the deck department for a while.

I may be changing jobs within the department (maybe going to work on the lifeboats for a bit, do some maintenance there), or something else. The second waterman knows everything now, and it’s time for him to take charge, and have someone for him to teach. Time for me to step down.

I have a kind of dilemma, in that I enjoy the practical work in the deck department, I enjoy many of the people. The chief mates, bosun, and many of my friends. I also know quite well the work, and can do it competently, and seriously. Many of the more experienced people in the
deck department are leaving in September, and many other people want to leave. So Deck needs people who are serious about work, and can work well and enjoy it.

On the second horn, I want to do something more creative. To spend my time making and exploring, which currently I just don’t have time for. I really want to help the ship make quality videos and programmes and present a high standard to visitors and others. We’re using video and multimedia presentations quite a lot, and I can see even more potential in it, and there is a need for creative people who know video and are technical enough.

A lot of the current team dynamics on Deck I find really hard as well right now. Many people not taking the jobs seriously, or getting angry, not caring about the work they do, etc. Many of us still acting like boys, not like men. So many things I find really hard to work and live with, that I’d really be happy to not have to worry about.

I feel as if there is not enough strength of experience and caring about the jobs and the people, so new people join, and when they do, they inherit the old habits and attitudes of the previous people, most of whom are already tired of the work and want to leave.


Do I try to move away from it all and start doing my preferred type of work as soon as I can? Or do I try to stay and be a positive influence, and try and encourage the new people to find interest and joy within their work? Maybe it’s my home-educated mind-set, or maybe grace, or something else, that lets me work with this attitude.

Life is complex, sometimes.

Two days ago we got the new deck schedule for this month. no news about jobs or anything, BUT, I found I had an extra 2 days of 12-4 gangway watch this week, as some people are on re-entry training. That’s not good news. So I did 12-4 today. I’m SO tired. I wasnt ready and so didnt get enough sleep or anything, and I still have tomorrow to do.

BUT the good news: one of the other blokes wandered into my cabin just now, we were chatting, and he said, “just 2 days of 12-4? That would totally wreck your whole sleeping pattern. 1 day is fine though. How about we swap tomorrow? I’ll do your 12-4 tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and you can do my cleaning team.” He just phoned to say he confirmed it with the bo’sun. COOL!!!!!

He said he quite likes gangway. So many people tell me that. I just dont get it.

Re-entry training is brief 2 day training about getting ready for going back home. We have about 8 or 9 deckies leaving in the next few months, so it may be quite unlikely that I leave deck any time soon. I hope I’ll get the lifeboat job and that it works out as well as I hope.

I spoke with the bosun, and he knows that Im quite practical and good with my hands and stuff, and so he would quite like me in lifeboats, but the watermen want me to join them too (specifically asked for me). And he knows I’d quite like the lifeboat job. I told him that I am interested in moving from deck into creative ministies or AV or videographer job in the future, so if it is better for the deck to get someone who doesn’t want to leave deck ever (which would be good if there was someone to do lifeboats for 1 and half years! very good for the department), then maybe is better I stay in normal deck work. He was happy I told him. unhappy that I may not stay a deckie, but he really appreciates openness.

Watermen job is (in my opinion) not fun. Others think it sounds great. Basically no hard physical work at all; they are in charge of the ship’s drinking water, so when trucks come, they have to come and get it attached and coming to the right tanks, moving water from one tank to another so the ship doesn’t get lopsided, checking the water making sure it’s OK, testing the depths of each tank. There’s also a bunch of other random jobs (like looking after the baggage locker, making the new keys for the ship, repairing shoes, etc) mostly it doesn’t require too much work, but not exciting.

AND… many times they end up being “on call” all evening, and having to rush off to do water trucks at all hours, which would be really really is bad for me, as I’d almost never be able to totally confirm with a programme organiser, “yes I can be in a programme to do a drama” so they would not want me in dramas at all, as I might have to keep rushing off. So you can see how some people like the job. No hard physical work.

Sometimes they don’t ask if you want a job, though, they just assign. It’s the chief mate’s decision in the end. Apparently what happens is that all the department heads meet up to discuss what people they want, and then negotiate it all out, and then after that each deparement head assigns jobs out within the department according to which people they have left, and so on.

According to the AV people I’m almost certainly on the list of people they will request, but because of me being quite strong and a guy, I will almost certainly stay in deck for the first year. The thing is, AV will be SO short staffed in the next few months. I know I could do the AV job, and many people could not, and so I dont want to commit to the deck department of getting the extra training and stuff of the lifeboat job, if I will then end up having to dump them in a few months if AV cannot find enough other people. Its not fair to the department. So it’s all quite complicated. That’s why I told the bosun.

At the moment, though, I’m just glad about not having 12 to 4 again tomorrow!

I missed lunch today as I had to give a tour for my “little brother”s family at 11:30. So I went and brought an icecream from the book-ex shop, then made a chocolate spread and jam sandwhich and put the icecream on top. Scrummy. Then I had some dinner too, but not much. I put the rest in the fridge for later. But i’f I’m not on watch I wont need it…

Gangway watch is so bad for eating too. You never feel hungry at normal times, and then need energy quickly at random times, and waking up at like 2 am, and so end up eating really bad stuff, chocolate spread sandwhiches, choclate bars, tea with loads of sugar,cereal with sugary squash juice stuff as the Doulos milk is not nice.

We were supposed to go on an extra trip on my off-day, all of our group, to do a special programme at an old peoples home. But the driver didn’t turn up, and so we were waiting for ages. Then when he did turn up, we got taken off to the wrong place – the same place where we did some building. They wanted us to start building again, but none of us were in building clothes. All the girls were in punjabis and all . I remembered the house of a local guy we had met before, so we went there, and phoned to the real guy, and explained the problem … and then it began to totally chuck it down with rain. So we hid under the veranda and played music and sang songs with the local slum kids, which was really cool. They sung us their Sunday school songs. Really nice.

Then somehow the guy turned up, found us a jeep, and drove us back to the ship. On the way we stopped at a really nice cheap Indian fast food/resurant place and had lovely lovely lovely Indian food. A whole huge meal. The whole meal, plus drinks and dessert, and auto ride home cost us 50 rupees each!!!! 50 rupees is about 50 CY cents [approx $1 US].

It was too late to go where we were supposed to go – everyone had gone home.

Last week has been kind of slow/busy/confused etc. One of the creative ministries people is on an away-team, we had an i-night, I went on an overnight, and am on watch this week (12 till 4), and so on. Also I learned a new mime/dance and performed it the next day. Tomorrow we sail to the next port.

The overnight went well, it was a very good experience. I’m so glad to have gone on an overnight in India. Some of it was not such fun, but very good to have experienced it. Hole-in-the-ground type toilets without toilet paper, for instance…

The book-ex has closed for this port. We were going to be open today, and pack down tomorrow, but today is election day so the local people (port authorities) told us it wasn’t a good idea to be open. So we closed today and are doing major clean/pack down. A major, major clean. This is a coal port, so there is black dust caked onto EVERYthing. Horrible. Apparently the next port is even worse…

One of the team leaders asked me yesterday if I would consider the job of lifeboat man!! More flexible hours, I’d be pretty much my own boss, as long as I got the jobs done, no gangway watch or firerounds and so on! I’d have to look after the lifeboats, clean them, make sure all ropes/equipment are correct and good, learning more about how they work, and helping to direct during drills and when using them etc. It should mean I could have more flexible hours as I’d be working on my own most of the time and so I could work around performances/practices with drama and stuff. But I’d still be a deckie, which would also be good. And, I’d get a special letter/chitty/thingy from captain and mates, which would (apparently) pretty much get me a job on any ship anywhere!

I’m sitting in the dining room, typing this, after a children’s programme this morning. We went to visit the school at 11.30, and were told we had a 45 minute or an hour long cultural programme, they wanted. No problems. One of the other team members is a teacher from oz, and so she was voted to “MC” the time.

The kids enjoyed it a lot, as did the teachers, but one of the teachers _kept_ coming into the room, like, every 2 minutes, and calling for another kid to come because their parents were there. We should have really started the programme at about 11 o’clock, or 10 thirty. Eventually the whole thing dissolved at about 12 o clock when pretty much all the kids left as their parents were there to collect them. Oh well.

We taught them some (fairly) silly songs, performed a drama about friendship (they gave me the main character, which was fun), did a song about Doulos work (also quite silly, but impressive. Basically a short chorus about “if I was not upon the stage of the Doulos, I would be…” and then each “verse”, one of the people stands forward and pretends to be some job; captain, carpenter, laundry, etc, with a short chant, and actions. and each time through the song another person stands forward.

So it starts off with one person standing forward, next verse two people, the verse after that 3 people, until all of us stand forward. and the actions to each persons chant include standing up, bending down, stretching arms up and down, etc, which are choreographed so that each person ducks out of the way of the next person just as they do something. IE, the carpenter stretches out a measurement, just as the painter ducks down to stir paint, and so on.

The last character to stand forward is… a ballerina. and they are supposed to be a really strong masculine macho deckie, and so guess who that was? yes! me! wearing my deckie clothes (really grubby looking and “work” ish) and also a ballet skirt thingy on top. it always makes the kids laugh, seeing someone so tough and manly pirouette and leap across the stage… yeah. pretty fun anyway. this evening we are going to help up at the bookshop, and give tours and chat to people. but until then is time off, which is quite nice.

Yesterday was my off-day, and I went out to see the town with some of the others. we visited the souk, I wanted to try and find a new watch (analogue, with alarm and backlight, but not big and heavy, and nice looking. I’ll be using it on deck, so just simple and stuff.

heh.. anyway, I didn’t find a good one. I found lots which were almost right, but none I really wanted to get. the guys at the shops always started off prices of about 8 to 12 dinar, but by the time i’d looked at them all and decided I didn’t want to buy, were all talking off special offers, me being their friend, and 3 dinars only.

oh well. Perhaps I’ll see one in India or Oman.

We then went and had lunch at a place called “Hardees”, which is an American style fast food resurant. I had a salad burger. Then we walked to one of the malls about, walked around it for a while, went to a Haagen Daaz icecream place, each had an icecream thingy (v. nice. I had a waffle with icecream on top) and then walked a bit more, and went home. Over all, fairly relaxed day not doing very much. Then in the evening I played Rummikub with some others, and then hung out in one of the families’ cabins with them and just chatted and looked at photos and such. They are a really friendly family, and have people drop round many evenings, and have their door open. They were making a sign to put on their door, with “hi! come in!”,”we’re busy, sorry”,”not in!”,”go away we’re sleeping” or something like that on it, which they can then put a blue-tacked arrow at the approp. label, on the computer. So I helped with the design of that for a while as well. v. friendly.

anyway. I’m off now. It’s nice to have had these two not so busy days after the last 7 days of watch. Normal day deck work tomorrow, we’ll probably be starting to get ready to sail in 2 days, so finishing off paint jobs, perhaps loading some of the vans and stuff…I don’t know.

I was the fire watch man today again, for the same welder/engine guy. We’re working on building the new platform/deck for the new satillite internet connection dish thingy. It is really big and has to be really high up to get a good line of sight above the funnel and stuff. Fun.

I spent most of the afternoon chipping off paint so that the welding torch could work properly. This morning was bible study groups, drills and deckie devotions, and because of various things didn’t actually get a chance to work until after lunch.