Life carries on…

So. Short post.

We’re in KK, Malaysia. Beautiful place.

A whole bunch of people left, and a whole bunch of new ‘uns joined.

The crazy Swedish dude left my AV team and headed home, after two years on board, and now I’ve got a new American the team. It’s fun training him, although kind of strange. I’ve taught AV stuff to so many people now. It’s hard to remember what I’ve taught to whom. I’ve got a basic Doulos AV curriculum, finally, but it’s difficult to get it all together. Theres so many little bits of randomness.

So now the team is one Korean, one Brit, one American, and one confused-not-quite-sure-ean(me).

Amongst the new recruits is one of my friends from the UK, which is very cool. She seems to be enjoying the ship so far, and is working in the “Accomedation” team, cleaning the inside of the ship, doing the laundry, running the bookshop cafe, etc.

Anyway. So. This was intended to be a short post, and mostly informational…

Yeah.

It’s my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow. The whole present-buying-birthday-celebration-rituals-cultures-thing terrifies me. Like, I dunno. Something about my INFP/TCK nature, I guess. I want everything I do to be meaningful, and genuine. Especially with those who are really dear to me. That’s the INFP side… But also, I feel like so many things (such as buying presents on birthdays, putting up signs, cards, etc) are very superficial, and just a crass part of some culture.

I want to buy presents that are really real – not just bought “because” of the birthday. Yet I don’t know if buying presents *for* the birthday, like, “doing the birthday thing” is also a way of being real, within a culture?

I don’t totally relate personally to any culture, really, and find almost all cultures have things which offend me, and which I don’t fit into.

Also, on the other hand, more practically, I know that there is an element I also probably ought to have of simply “Daniel, just grow up, accept the fact that you’re not all that great at buying presents, so get over it, stop making all these stupid theoretical excuses and work harder than everyone else to actually do it well, and on time. Stop being so lazy.”

Bolts and other bits and bobs

Ever wonder what a stainless steel bolt looks like when it completely rusts into oblivion?


Well. Now you know. This fell off one of our lifeboats. Makes you feel very secure, right?

This is the latest addition to the AV room:


It’s getting quite full, these days. Well, it has been for YEARS now. Any time we want to change anything, it gets quite major and complicated, trying to shuffle things around. Basically, I was fed up of having our stationary drawer jam because of too many tools inside it, so had the carpenters make us this. Makes me feel all reminiscent of the keyshop. *sigh* good old days.


Here it is, in place. As you can tell, the room isn’t all that tidy, still. Just SO MUCH STUFF! Other additions, the mug hooks on the wall, the per-day form hooks too, and also a removable wall-mount for the fan (which always used to just sit on the floor and get kicked…)


and lastly, we’ve FINALLY got the slot on the door for request forms!


exciting! I’ll post pictures of the opposite side of this amazing slot soon. It’s small, subtle, elegantly engineered and discreet. You’ll love it.

TV stuff

Here’s a conundrum for you.

If you’re not interested in video, then this may be boring as anything for you.

Then again, you might find it facinating.

OK. Here’s the deal. A conference, and it’s Mandarin. The main speaker is American, and speaks no Mandarin whatsoever. So he has a translator. No problem. Now say you have an audience of 300-ish, and are using live video to show the speaker on TVs around the room so people can see. OK, again, no problem. But, since the speaker and the translator decided to stand far apart, if you show a shot wide enough to get them both, they’re so small on screen that it’s totally pointless putting them on screen. Usually, I believe, it’s normal to just go for a close-up of the speaker. So, then, if you have audience who are all old people and probably somewhat hard of hearing, they’ll want to lip-read the translator at least somewhat. So. What to do? Cutting back and forth between two cameras is too much work, and tiring, and probably more annoying to watch than anything else.

I tried to be a bit clever and “TVish” this time, but I still am not totally pleased with it.
If the speaker and translator decide to move around a lot, remote cameras just will not cut it.

Handover

I’m tired. I’m stressed.

I won’t pretend to hide it.

I’m pissed off at the system, thoroughly fed up of how things currently are – in my work, my life, and in many things around me.

Yet, still, most things are going fairly well…

I’m now the “AV manager”, and discovering more and more how disorganised and messed up it is.

We have small forms in the drawer under the computer which are used during the sunday service on board, we give out the little forms, then people can fill them in if they want to, so that they can give to the weekly offering (usually to help a local ministry, or work in India, or similar) direct from their on board account, rather than having to use cash.

Anyway, this morning, the guy running the service came up and asked for them.. We had 10. Not good enough! So, I told him a few ideas of who he could ask for more, but this was at half an hour before the service, on a Sunday Morning. Not the best time to go looking for people to do random work like that.

We need to have once a week or so someone to check how many we have, say on a Friday, and then to get at least 200 before the Sunday morning.

Not a big deal, right?

Well, no, not a problem at all. Just the problem is that there are *hundreds* of little issues like this. Every day. And *NONE* of them are written down. When I started, there were no current weekly checklists or anything.

I don’t want to become a lists and rules based dictator, but how on earth else do you manage to get everything done that needs to be?

When I took over this job, there was maybe 1 hour of discussion between me and the predecessor about stuff, but none of these little details were noted. Each day day I find mord

And it was the same thing when I became waterman, 2 years ago. There’s no consistancy! As soon as people leave, things get dropped.

It’s why ships tend to have such strict and over the top and detailed procedures – everything gets written down.

Anyway. It’s just intensely frustrating. I’m so bad at admin, so weak at organisation, so forgetful about details, so easily overwhelmed by situations, so inexperienced at leadership, so unknowledgeable about everything technical I should know about, so young!

I guess in one way it’s kind of exciting. I mean, whoopee! So much stuff to learn! So much I can improve!

Yet it’s kind of hard to say that and not at least have some irony and sarcasm in it too.

Yes, it’s good to be stretched and have all this improvement to do, but at the same time, it’s “live”. We’re not playing with blank bullets. Every round is for real.

Every time I start a video playing in a programme, it’s not school, not training. People are in the programme, watching, and notice if things don’t work.

The audience have paid, usually. The programme organiser has spend hours arranging everything, and if I screw up, it’s her work that gets ruined.

Trying to set priorites, and figure out what actually is realistic and achievable…

And then how to make sure it happens. And each day discovering more things which have got dropped and then not only do we need to carry it, but we have to stop, pick it up, clean it, do repairs on it, and then start carrying it again.

I could go on. My list of current frustrations and things we’re doing badly is pretty much endless.

And I know I’m a perfectionist, but this isn’t perfectionism.. This is realism.

  • Wireless Microphone Batteries Dying mid-show
  • Cables going glitchy
  • Videos playing during rehearsal but then refusing to play in performance
  • Audio levels on all videos being different and needing constant riding
  • Audio patch-panels/jackfields acting
  • The trash not getting taken every day
  • The room looking a mess all the time
  • Cables not getting fixed or taken out when they break

Those are all itty bitty technical details. But they effect almost every programme we do.

And why?! Why have they not been fixed? And how can they be fixed easily, or at least dealt with, or worked around?

Well, they can. But we’re lacking any way to report problems, to deal with them, or do anything in a purposeful or directed way.

And it’s not just about technical details. Those are the easiest for me to see – of course – and those are the bits that are our job. From a programme side, this show up as mics dying unexpectedly, feedback, disruption, long pauses, lack of flow and professionalism, etc, etc, etc.

And we’ve all become so accepting of it! And that’s wrong. We cannot accept crap, when we are capable of beauty, and if we’re not capable of exquisite complex beauty, then we must simplfy until what we do is excellent at that level.

There’s so much attitude and team thinking that has to change too, and just as soon if not before the technical bits can get solved. I really am trying to focus on the people, in the team and those we work with/for, and that’s a topic for a whole other post, or possibly whole other blog. So I’ll just stick with the technical day to day bits today.

Everything is so reactive. Like the offering forms this morning. Having problems show up, and then deal with them.

Honestly, we – the ship – has been doing programmes for so long now that ALL of these things should have become non-issues. And once we can get out of this constanct scrambling to pick up the pieces of something that’s just exploded, or running around like headless chickens to stop something from exploding, then we can actually start enjoying it, and being creative and actually going somewhere positive and improving.

But man, it’s tiring right now.

Getting to know me, or not.

Good morning, blog. Although, actually, it’s more like evening, seeing as how it’s 7pm and everything.

It’s probably morning somewhere in the world.

I have a friend on this ship who has a fetish for “Awkward moments”. I’m sure he wouldn’t like it to be called a fetish, but whatever, he really loves them. He savours them, as a connesour, specially saving them up and preparing them, finely planning moments of Awkwardness in the same way that a conductor of an orchestra prepares the finale of a grand opera.

He’ll often say stuff intentionally to make people uncomfortable.

So I asked about a week or two ago, why?

And his response was something like,

(a) it’s fun,
(b) I enjoy seeing how people really are.

And the second one is the bit that I took issue with.

He said watching how people react when they don’t know how to respond gives a great insight into them, and let’s you see them without the pretence and acting that accompanies so much of human interaction.

What’s there to take issue with?

Well, seeing people when they don’t know how to react, is that really how they “really are”?

It seems to me to smell slightly of the whole humans-are-nought-but-animals thing.

And also, the “You know the real person by seeing how they behave under pressure”. – Likewise, the same.

There is some truth to it, of course. It’s much easier to act nice and give a good image when you are relaxed and can concentrate on impressing others, or on behaving well, than when things are stressful and you’re under pressure and don’t have time to think about what to do next.

Others have also said that you know how someone is by what they do in their spare time, or when no one else is looking, and so on.

Some people seem to do well under pressure, and be able to think quickly and clearly. Others don’t. Some people find it easy to find jobs to do and to use their spare time productively and pro-actively.

So… it’s often very useful to know how someone behaves under pressure, but I don’t think it really shows who they “really” are.

This would have been all nice and theoretical, and all that, except for this week.

I got sick.

And, it turns out, I don’t act very nice when I’m sick.

Usually, when I’m healthy and fine and everything, I tend to use a lot of hyperbole, sarcasm, and irony in my general day to day language. It tends to be (I hope!) fairly good natured, and over-the-top enough that others realise it’s not intended seriously.

“Could you play this CD for me?”
“Nope. It’s completely impossible – the computer can only play CDs on Thursdays.”

and so on.

Well, the thing is, recently I’ve started to tend to mix double meanings and more biting sarcasm into what I say, and, usually, it doesn’t mean anything – to me.

Ie, “hey, the programme schedule says you’re doing a song later, but you haven’t put a form in saying you want any microphones or instruments or anything, so it’s just a Capella, right?”

It appears though, my sarcasm and hyperbole and so on don’t pan out so well when I’m tired/sick or stressed.

We had a wedding yesterday on board. About half way through the ceremony, right in the middle of a song just as I was mixing the band and having to be constantly mindful of the two wireless mics the MC and someone else had and things were quite hectic, when one of the people who was videoing it (a local) came over and asked “Do you have any power sockets? I need to re-charge my camera batteries”.

“Yes, right here.” (pointing at the sockets)

“Ah.” (he pokes around)

“They don’t fit…”

“Oh, right. Um, yes. It’s European, sorry, the whole ship is set up with European sockets. It’s a European ship, after all.”

“You mean you don’t have any standard sockets??” (disbelief in his voice)

And this is, I’m afraid, where my stunning wit came to the fore again, and really didn’t help the situation at all.

“No, no. They’re all standard sockets.” *helpful smile* “European standard.”

Very helpful, wasn’t I. – I don’t think!

Yes… I don’t think. Maybe that’s the problem.

I’m struggling a lot right now with trying to balance work with relationships. Not in that I work too much and don’t spend enough time with people, but in that when people do things which really mucks up my work, I find it very hard to still be nice.

Part of it is I just really have no idea how to be nice.

Middle of a programme, pressing buttons and cueing video clips and trying to make the whole thing smooth and beautiful, and someone comes into the AV room from behind me, is standing right where I need to move to press a button on the video mixer, and asked “hey, would it be possible for you to play me a DVD in the other room in an hour or so?”

How do you respond to such things?

“Go away. I can’t listen to you now.” – Not really polite.

“Dear brother! I would be more than glad to hear from you, and to help you in any way I can, even though you’ve broken two of our published policies in the last 10 seconds, nevertheless, I completely forgive you and forget all about it so if you come back to me in 20 minutes then I’ll be very happy to hear your request and see how I can most elegantly acquiesce to your desires.” – too long, and I’m already late for a cue.

“Ask me later.” – Usually what I’ll try and say but, unfortunately, what people want is something they need more input for. And usually they leave it right until the last minute before asking us. Usually the reply I’ll get from them (while they’re still standing in the way of my mixer) is “Well, I need to know now so I can arrange a laptop or something if you can’t do it.”

“Oh, are you running the programme now? Since you’re in the right place to press the buttons, does that mean I can leave?” – Unfortunately, something close to what’s likely to be my first response.

And it’s not that I really bear them any ill-feeling, or even that I mean to be nasty, mean, or sarcastic.

Sometimes as well, I’ve noticed I have a tendancy to use hyperbole, sometimes in ways which just don’t make sense to anyone other than me:

“Oh yes, it’s horribly frustrating when people forget to hand in their forms on time. I feel like screaming like a little child and jumping overboard whenever they do.” – yes, it’s frustrating, but not that frustrating.

I dunno.

I feel kind of like I’ve picked up some really rude sarcasm and humour somewhere. And especially when I’m tired, frustrated, under pressure, and sick, it really comes out and is just plain nasty to everyone.

Is this the real me, coming out at last?

Or is the real me the nice one?

“When a man’s at his worst, then you see him the best.”

or

“It’s not how good you are, but how good you want to be”.

*sigh* I have so far to go…

Greetings, Gentle reader, and welcome to the latest episode of [email protected]

Before we get much further, here is a photo of yours truly:


Taken in Fukuoka, Japan. Nice place. Very clean, efficient, tidy, quiet. Kind of reminded me of some of the more sane and modern parts of London (not that there are too many parts which combine both of those adjectives).

We’re now actually in Kanazawa, which is further north.

I’ve been quite busy this port, as the second waterman has been on a team staying and working off the ship for the whole port. I was also learning a lot about the audio-visual stuff on board the ship, how to use Final Cut Pro, sound balancing, and so on. Fun stuff. We had some of the people from our company’s technical/production side out for a week or so, and doing some training for us.

Since then I’ve been working on the ship’s edit suite making a couple of video projects (a Taiwan report video, and a video about the work the ship did in Philippines to show in Korea).. Final Cut Pro is very very nice software.

Especially once you get rid of the silly one button mac mouse, and put a proper 2 button+scrollwheel on the beast.

I’ve also been working quite a lot on just refilling up the ship with water. We had to pretty much replace all our water with Japanese water, due to strange regulations here, and that was all a bit complex.

I stayed up quite late one night running around the ship with the I.T. guys, when they re-built the network system, rebooting and reconnecting the DHCP client sessions on every computer… We now have internet web access on every ship-computer (not personal laptops). That is really cool.

I am probably going to be changing jobs fairly soon, I don’t know where yet. Possibly into I.T and Videographer, or something like that. Maybe working with the Audio-Visual team running the sound and stuff programmes on board. I’ve been working as a waterman for almost a year now. On Doulos that’s a long time. I just looked in our logbook the other day, which I started us keeping. The first entries are from August last year. Amazing.

I applied for the job of Technical Administrator. It would be quite interesting, and a big challenge too. A more technical ship work, and I could learn a lot of administration skills that would be useful in whatever job I end up doing in the future.

Doing all the video and all that these last two weeks, and hanging around with the IT guys a bit, I know that that is where I enjoy working most. I love doing video editing, and IT configuring and installing and all that work is so much more satisfying than water stuff. I miss programming a lot.

I miss linux, actually. Now THAT’s a geeky comment.

But whatever job I end up doing here, it’ll be useful, and also a good change. I’m really tired of the waterman’s job. It’s a great job, you can learn sooo much. And it’s very interesting, very much responsibility, very much independence. More independence than any other job on the ship, probably. Still. It’s time for a change. I’m tired of the midnight phone calls, of thinking about the ship’s water and list and draft 24/7. Of being “on call” whenever I’m on the ship. Of working alone, truely alone. Even working with the other waterman, I still miss being part of a team. I don’t much enjoy being a leader. I prefer to be a team player. Able to relax with others who know as much or more than I do, and able to pass the ball around, rather than just holding it myself, or watch my partner/assistant run with it the whole time.

Anyway. It’s late. Past 10. I need to sleep. goodnight.

This has been a fun week… most of it. Exciting, and all, anyway. We had a damage control drill, in which the fire attack team had a chance to play with our big emergency submersible pump (big blue thing, about the size of a child and the weight of a man) which had to be carried down to the engine room, and dropped into a tank of water, and then they had the fun of emptying a few tons out of the porthole, and then the rest we transferred into another tank. Great fun for them, very good that they finally get a chance to work with that pump (it’s a monster!). And the tanks, of course, mean work for the watermen! 🙂

We had two tanks which were on schedule for being worked in (we emptied out one of them a month or so ago, and had deck teams in there scraping off the old dead cement, and we last week got the new cement on all the walls.

So we had to open up this empty tank again, and open up the other tank, and get everything ready for that. This meant the usual sitting for a few hours in a bilge/tanktop covered in slime and grease and oil with various sizes of wrenches/spanners getting the manhole open.. This one also created a few more problems though, as some of the nuts were really old and totally seized up.

I had to find out how to get them off. I tried everything I knew how to do (various lubricants, hammers, spanners with extensions, and so on). My next and final option was to grind the thing off. As this is in a bilge, with oil and all about, it’s quite dangerous to do grinding, as you have sparks all over the place. So you need “Hot Work permits” which are paperwork to make sure you follow all safety procedures, have another guy on firewatch while you work, have fire extinguishers ready, etc… The chief mate suggested I try using just a oil burner/torch and heating up the nut around the edges, to try and expand it and so free it up. This would also require Hot Work permits, but would be safer, and also a lot easier, if it worked.

As I was getting ready for this (with the deadline being the drill the day after), the chief engineer suggested just using a “Nut splitter”, a really cool tool I’d never seen before. Basically it’s a chisel with a threaded end, a bolt on the end, and a case to drive it through the nut, as you tighten the bolt. Very cool indeed. So I found this device, and amazingly, it worked! Very nice indeed. I was chatting with the Engine Foreman afterwards, and he suggested a few other ideas involving chisels (and hitting the bolt in the right places to expand the right parts). So I have lots of new stuff learned. Cool. I’ll put it all in the “Waterman’s Bible.”

Have I mentioned the “Waterman’s Bible“?

It’s our source of all knowledge and wisdom, concerning the job. When I joined, it was about 4 pages long, very hastily put togeather, and with confusing notes, and about as comprehensive as “Spot the Dog” is as a guide to the English language.

So myself and the former watermen began to add to it, and since I took over as head waterman, I’ve added diagrams of valves, information about the “Free Surface Effect” and other important things we really need to know, but were always handed on (getting more and more incorrect over time) by word of mouth, or just totally ignored, and other interesting information (such as “Where to find people to hang out with on the ship at 2 in the morning when you’re waiting for the final water truck to arrive” and “Where can I get new hose-clips?” and “Where can I find good coffee?” or even “How can I get these wretched rusted nuts off the manhole-cover!?” for instance.

Currently the “Waterman’s Bible: Nearly Accurate Simplified Version (NASV) April 2007 Edition” is around 50 pages long.

So, back to my week. Three days ago we had to move the ship a few hundred meters down the quayside, so a container ship could come in… the next morning we moved her back again. Then we have have 3 containers of food/books/supplies/chemicals arrive in (including 2 new waterhoses I ordered 3 months ago!).


And most recently, yesterday.

Yesterday was International Night (I-night). Our big festival of songs and dances and dramas from around the world! We’re having two this port, for different audiences, and I am on the “I-night Crew” now, doing the multimedia (videos, cameras, projectors, etc). Yesterday was my first time doing that, always before I’ve been on stage performing. It was so much fun! So good to do theatrey work again. I love the energy and excitement of it. I was sitting on my own with a laptop, projector and camera (and camera person for a while) with a headset on listening to the stage director and back stage crew, and most things went pretty well.

At the beginning of this I-night we had a local Christian band playing, and then we went into 2 movies/video clips, and then the show proper. 5 minutes before the local band started their sound check, the singer came up to me with a USB stick and said “Hey, can you show this powerpoint, it’s the lyrics of our 3 songs, while we sing…”

Yeah, no worries… Except, it’s all in Mandarin! And I don’t really speak any Mandarin at all!

He told me. “OK, these are my hand signals I use with the band, ‘this’ means ‘Chorus’ and ‘this’ means ‘from the top’. We have 3 songs in this powerpoint, the first one is slides 1-3, slide 3 is the chorus…”

Woah! Cool! Bring it on! In the end, we did find one of our translators who could run the lyrics with me, which helped, rather.

After the local band, we had those two video clips. The first one for some reason was not on the laptop (someone else had set up the laptop and files on the ship before the day), and it only arrived 10 minutes before the performance! Still, I had them ready. Then, just as I started the clips, the sound came on, but no video on the projector! This was crazy! I’d just been showing lyrics on them! We’d managed to get a flatscreen monitor from the venue to use as a second monitor display by me, so I could set up the videos on the screen before switching the video-switch to display the computer, and the video was playing fine on my monitor.

So I switched off the video and began checking cables, while the whole audience was sitting there… and I found the projector had switched itself off! So I turned it on again, and reset my videos and got it going again. The whole time (probably only 15-20 seconds at the most, from when the sound came on without visuals to when it started working properly) with the stage director and everyone worried in the headset, and me on my first time with multimedia i-night. It was great! I love theatre.

Everything else went pretty smoothly. It was a long day, we started at 6.30am (after getting to bed around midnight the night before because of the container arrivals, that was a 14 hour work day), and then finished de-briefing after the I-night around half past midnight, and then eating dinner til past 1am, (So about 18 work hours…) Then I was up again this morning at 6.30 to get ready for a study group. I don’t think I’ll work too hard today, except I have my normal work to do, after church, then 2 Irish dance performances later in the afternoon, I need to do my work appraisal with the chief mate, and also a sermon review with the study group coordinator about 5pm…

[Ding Dong, Ding Dong…]

OK, just to add to the fun, the fire alarm just went off. Some kind of electrical fault in one of the wires, they guess. I was at the firestation with the others for about 10 minutes, they couldn’t find anything in the whole zone where the alarm went off, so they’ve isolated the alarm, and check again in an hour.

Yeah. Fun week.

I’m typing this from the dry food store, miles and miles down in the depthful belly of the ship. I don’t know if depthful is a real word, but if not, I have just coined it. Please pay all royalties to me, chocolate is the preferred currency.

OK, so what am I doing in this previously mentioned food store…? Well, we’ve been having a few problems on the job.

Over the last few months we’ve been emptying out ballast tanks, (the water tanks down at the bottom of the ship which keep her stable) one at a time, and then sending a deck team in there to do routine maintenance (routine, as in, once every 4 years or so per tank).

Anyway. We just got to the last tank in the series, and so needed to fill it up with water. For some reason though, every time we tried to use the pipe to send water to the tank, the pump would get very hot and trip the electrics. We could see a very high pressure build up in the pipe by the pump, so it looked as if there was some kind of blockage in the pipe, which was not allowing water through it. We went into the tank last week or so, and looked around for any obvious problems, feeling inside the pipes as far as fingers would go to make sure they had not got cemeted over in the maintenance. No problems found though…

So we asked the engine room guys to have a look at it, and they sent a very professional welder/plumber. He took a “snake” (high pressure hose with a thing on the end which bounces around and smashes to bits any kind of blockage or rust.
Anyway… it got stuck in the pipe. So he called me, and then he went into the tank to take the pipe off and look for his snake. BUT… forgot to check which pipe. The wrong pipe got taken off…. So he took off the other one. Not his fault, he didn’t know the tank had two pipes leading into it. We couldn’t see any problems, so he put them back.

Presumably the problem was further up the pipe, closer to the engine room.

Presumably so was his ‘snake’.

So, we opened up the other tank, brought a HUGE emergency submersible pump and attached it up to transfer between the two tanks. This pump is a very serious pump. It’s designed to be hooked up, and chucked down a staircase into a flooded hold to pump it out, kind of thing. It took 3 of us to carry down to the food store here where the tank manholes are to put the pump into. We had to use all kinds of ropes and stuff to hoist the thing down. We attached it, and set it going. It was a bit complicated, as we had to have one guy at the suction end of the pump, to make sure it was OK, one guy at the discharge end to make sure it didn’t swing around and kill someone, one guy running between to make sure the hose was OK and didn’t explode, and one guy 3 decks up with a radio to switch the electricity for the pump on and off (there are only 3 connection points on the whole ship for this creature).

So… First when we switched it on, we found a hole in the hose. We found it as it started shooting water the pressure of a fire-hose all over the place in the book-hold where the discharge tank manhole is. So we stopped the pump, pushed more of the hose into the tank so the leak was inside the tank, and tried again. This time, the pressure of the pump pushed the hose into a crack under the flange of two pipes, and then ripped the whole hose open as the pressure was too high for the squashed position. I got totally soaked by this.

So we stopped the pump, got a new hose, and tried again. This time was OK… for about 4 minutes. But the pressure of the pump started pushing the discharge end of the hose back out of the tank! So we stopped the pump, tied the hose down, and started again. 2 hours later, nothing more had gone wrong, and 60 tons of water had been moved. That is, 30 tons an hour. 500 litres a minute, in other words. Quite fast.

So in went our bold intrepid welder/plumber guy to the now empty tank, and he took off the pipes and all, found the ‘snake’ in a “omega” shaped bend in the pipe (the chief mate says this is to allow for expansion and contraction of in the ship’s shape… if he had asked the C/M before sending his ‘snake’ in, it would have saved a lot of problems…) anyway. He got his snake out, closed up the pipes again, and declared the pipes probably useable… at least, no problems found in them. (These are probably original 1914 pipes, brass (I think) and still in amazingly good condition…)

Yesterday was spent with myself and another guy (possibly the next waterman? Who knows…) down here with a smaller more sociable submersible pump moving the last of the water across. (When they had opened up the pipes, about 20 tons of water drained back across to the other tank we had just moved it from.)

So. Now what…

The tank we are moving from (where the snake was stuck) is smaller than the tank we are moving the water into.

By about 10 tons.

So I still have 10 or so tons of water to move across. I tried this morning using the probably OK pipe system, and the engine room pump. I did this very slowly, checking everything, slowly allowing pressure to build up, etc, so as not to overflow anything, or trip the electricity on the pump, or any of that. Strangely, although water was leaving the pump, the water level didn’t go up in the tank. I checked after lunch, and the level was exactly the same…. So I stopped the whole thing, and started checking my tank levels, sounding everything I could think of. About 40 tons of water had left the freshwater tank I was pumping from, and 0 had arrived in the ballast tanks. And it had not arrived anywhere else either.

About this time, I was expecting my name on the paging system any second, to find 40 tons of water had turned up in someone’s cabin…

Luckily it didn’t

Unluckily (or possibly not) It didn’t turn up anywhere else, either.

Anyway. We sail tomorrow, and this tank must be full when we leave. So I decided to ignore the whole missing water problem, and spent the last part of this afternoon moving water from the engine room into the empty small tank, (these pipes still work…) and then am myself down here in the dry food store, miles and miles down in the depthful belly of the ship moving the water from the small tank into the big one with the sociable submersible pump. It’s very slow.

And quite scary too. Last time the other waterman did something like this, he managed to flood the book-hold, and it caused some huge amount of damage, something in the thousands of euros range. So that’s why this entry is so disjointed, I keep running off to check everything. Yesterday I started at 6.30am, and finished at 10pm, and today I started at the more reasonable hour of 9.30am, and hope to be finished before the same numbers reappear with another suffix (or the same. That would be worse…). We shall see.

The reason it is so much work for just me, is that the other senior waterman is leaving, and changing jobs (I may have mentioned this before). And is doing training all this week. It’s all really tiring, anyway.


This is a photo of the inside of one of the tanks, including the “omega” bends. The tank is 1 metre 33 cm high.


Slightly weird news is that I’m going to be waterman. Means no more work outside really, hardly any physical work either. No more gangway watch either, mind you. I start right after sabbath week. It’s the job I didn’t want as it means being on call in evenings, but for the next lot of ports, as they are quite developed, we should always have water from a main, rather than trucks, which is better. So I won’t be on call all evening.

There are two watermen, the old one is leaving and I know the new one requested me about two months ago already. Then today I was told to work with him for the day, so I did, and then this evening the chief mate told me that as soon as sabbath week is over I will be the new waterman. It’s a job I know I can do, and some of it will be interesting. Like doing all the key-repair/locksmith stuff, but yeah. I dunno.

The chief mate knows I don’t really want to be waterman, and he knows I want to move to another department as well eventually. So he could have given me the job because they need someone, and it actually isn’t that hard, and I’ll be able to fill the second position until they find someone who wants the job. I’ll enjoy the locksmithing part, as long as I can find some good books about it, and can get enough work time to do it in. I’ll learn how to pick locks. And I’ll have a slightly more flexible schedule than now.

Also I have the go-ahead to make the Doulos intranet computer system, which should be a fun diversion. So I will kind of have full internet access sometimes for a while, to do research and get the software I need and stuff.

Oh, and I’m playing tambourine with the gospel choir. Kind of fun, but utterly exhausting in the right arm after playing solidly for six minutes straight.

As waterman, I’ll be able to play clarinet in my office, which is far away from everyone. I don’t like playing in my cabin, as there are always watchkeepers in next door cabins asleep, or in my cabin, and it’s hard to find other places which are free. I’m currently playing a lot in hold 1 which has so-so acoustics.