19/06/15 LN 870

So, finally I got the time to sit down and begin the first ship blog – straight out of mess duty, coming to the end of my first ever 48 hours on-board a ship.

I did galley duty which started yesterday and felt a bit queasy. There is nothing that a 7pm to 3.30am sleep can’t cure when it comes to that.

But now here I am, sitting in the kitchen (galley), able to look at this little strange typing device in front of me without feeling ill – and I’ve finally got the time to stop and reflect on what exactly I’ve been doing over the last 48 hours.

We were on watch when leaving Liverpool, the ship needed to turn around in the small dock so that we could face the entrance and get out onto the Mersey whilst the lock gates were open, this involved help from our Doti boat pushing the end of the ship around and also another small boat assisted as well. Fenders were needed to be both sides at times, but we managed and got out safely to make our way down the Mersey. Whilst on watch we learnt about pilots, local sea whisperers, who know the area waters inside out – I got the chance to steer the ship, something that took me a good hour to get my head around in terms of compasses, sea miles, wind speeds and keeping an eye on other ships/objects whilst the Sea breezes batter your face.

I felt like people were speaking another language, sometimes I felt like I knew what people were saying but the meaning had changed and nobody had given me the memo. Then all of a sudden, it started to click – a bit like a magic eye puzzle – and I finally knew what I was supposed to be doing. There is something pretty humbling about admitting you know nothing.

5 minutes before the watch ended I knew I only had an hour before I needed to be ready for mess duty, the captain called us to set the sails – meaning all hands on deck, and I wasn’t getting my break.

Of course, like all new learning experiences should be, I found myself standing around feeling like I should use my initiative and just grab something – the wrong thing to do. What this last 48 hours has taught me, very quickly, is the need for good communications all around and how to work effectively as a team so things are done properly and to time – especially seeing as I project manage for a living, you forget how being thrust into a completely new and unknown task can be incredibly daunting… terrifying in fact – especially when you know that you don’t know things.

Having time to reflect on the last 48 hours, I’m starting to see changes in my own ways of dealing with challenges. I’ve heard so many people say “it’s all in your head” when it comes to something like seasickness or climbing, but I’d like to defend the head here and say that the brain is a powerful drug, some of the smallest victories are the battles with yourself. I would have never felt brave enough to try something like this even 5 years ago – so being able to say that I’ve done things like help to evacuate a wheelchair manually up stairs using ropes and tackle in case there is an emergency, managing to overcome seasickness and complete my mess duty, when I thought it would have been game over on day 1 – and to know what is to come ahead when we reach Belfast tomorrow – is pretty satisfying. When it comes down to it, being in a position where you can’t run away from things, and you know you have to find a way to help yourself adapt – and you need to trust people, many of which you’ve only known for less than a day, it really does put you in a position where you know you can’t give up. That’s pretty empowering.
So yeah, I’m going to log off now – get a wee nap in before the next watch over dinner. I’m going to be rising at 3.30am again, for the 4-8am watch (as we are anchoring) then have a day, on land, in Belfast to look forward to.

Aft port watch