I currently sulk in the corner of the deckhouse, avoiding all fellow sailors and refusing to assist in any small tasks they require. But the atmosphere onboard has been nothing but friendly banter and solidarity up until this point. What changed that in a single night we are here- with mistrust and suspicion rife amongst the crew? Well, yesterday was Halloween.
When at sea for as long as we now have been (33 days to be exact), things fall into rhythm. This is both wonderful- we all know our roles and perform them well so that the ship functions smoothly- but also mundane- with everyday ‘same-same’. That is why we make the most of every opportunity to have an event. Saturdays are fun days- I’m sure you have read previous blogs about pin-rail racing and deck curling, maybe even pig-passing. This gives us a break from monotony and something to look forward to- so we are reminded that time is still passing in our little bubble of the open ocean.
For cultural events like Halloween, everyone brings their own interpretation of how to celebrate. After many discussions and explanations and misinterpretations, it was decided that we all must dress to theme and celebrations must ensue. And ensure they did. For Marretje and I, the outfit choice was simple. The agreed theme was to dress either as an object or a person from around the ship. It was clear that we had to do a couple’s costume as the manta trawl and net. It’s practically in our contracts. On the night of the 30th, we sat in our cabin surrounded by empty milk cartons, spare nets, failed gaskets, various tapes, coffee filters, and pillowcases. Before too long, our artworks were runway ready (the runway being the daily two o’clockie meeting).
When the time came, the swell had reached a grand crescendo, winds were at 15-20 knots, and Europa was rolling dramatically. It was decided not to deviate from tradition- it is imperative that the two o’clockie is held on the poop deck, in peak exposure to the elements. The mouth of the manta trawl was already falling off by the time I arrived. It was hard to take the meeting seriously as suds from the 'lekker soppie' raced past the greatly shedding broom-dog alongside the radar’s hat. Plastic piggies fell over for real while the tangled flag got trapped in every railing she passed. Our speed was increased by the wind catching in the tiny tri-sail hung around Heather’s neck l (in case of major weather).
After much struggle and laughter, we gathered on the main deck for a group photo. Marretje tried desperately to time the photo count-down to the heeling of the ship so that we’d all be in the frame as her camera swung to and fro. The Klabauter-men squeezed in between the green flash, god of celestial navigation, and mountain of paperwork. If there is no photo attached, it is because our efforts to get just one nice family photo were in vain.
But this all sounds like a blast. How did these entertaining, albeit chaotic, events lead to such distaste? You’ll have to wait for the next blog, as this is already getting too long.