Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Not since my days on the tanker Ner River have I been really able to enjoy a Sunday at sea.

In the heyday of the British navy, Sunday was always something special. In the morning, the crew would turn out to scrub and clean everything, including themselves- nonessential work was let go in the afternoons- provided the crew was clean, shaven and their areas tidy, after the captain's weekly inspection of the appurtenances and crew, and lunch, the crew was given a double tot of rum. Man who had saved up their daily tot might then enjoy the afternoon in a state of drunkenness, or barter or sell their tot to those who wished to catch a buzz. This was done for the most intelligent of reasons: despite the comfort of routine, the hardest of men can become brittle under heavy stress, and need time to calm down.
Being here, and being on a management level now, I can't have a carefree Sunday quite like I used to when we manage to have a free day, but I can manage something.

We had a nice system on Sunday. Both of the Chief mates were fairly lenient- I surprised myself by becoming a sea lawyer when one of them took away our Sunday at sea under duress from the home office- I didn't so much sew discontent as I did become a loudmouth prick about it; in hindsight I'm ashamed, in fact. The mate in question was a fine person, and caught in an unenviable position between being harangued by the office over the state of repair of the vessel, and a near-visible fug around the crew when he had to push us to work through a Sunday at sea to shut up the talking heads (in our defense, there was no overtime involved except for any individuals who happened to be standing watch that day were working in their off time).
Needless to say, being disappointed wasn't the best motivator for the crew, and morale and productivity suffered. In a short time, we were able to get our Sundays back, and morale improved. I'm fairly certain that the mate in question probably got some shit for it, but it did make us a happier bunch, and more productive come Monday.
Our Sunday ritual in the deck department was as follows:
0720: Wake up calls
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800 meet in the unlicensed crew mess hall. Complain. Then morning meeting with Chief mate and bosun. Praying for announcement that today will be a clean-up day until noon.

0800-0900 Hurriedly and with gusto, clean, wipe down and mop out the Cargo control room, Inert Gas Generator room (sometimes), deck department communal head (this was an old ship; there were no personal heads for unlicensed crew) laundry and TV room, and crew deck passageways. Complain about the QMED's, who never, ever clean their head or passageway, or the TV room. Or laundry.

0900-1000 laundry, hide in one's room
1000-1030 Coffee break. Hang out with steward, complain about things, argue with steward's helpers.
1030-1150 Hide out in room, work on personal projects, visit other crewmen's rooms, complain about things.
1200-1300. Lunch. Complain about soup, possibly complain about fat and/or salt content of lunch. Depending on which steward was on board, there was a 50/50 chance that Sunday lunch would result in stomach cramps and diarrhea.
1300-1500. Nap, clean, play video games, watch movie, complain.
1500-1530. afternoon coffee. Listen to steward complain that we were all going to come too early to Sunday dinner, and make him stressed.
1530-1600. Fire drill and safety exercise. In summer, this often ended in rinsing the ship off using the fire monitors.
1600-1630. Stow hard hat and gumby suit, watch TV.
1630-1645: instigate an intense argument between Pumpman and someone from the Steward's department while waiting for dinner. Eat all the dinner rolls set out by the Steward, possibly start a rumor that the officers were getting better rolls.
1645-1730. Dinner and conversation. Thank the steward, then hope that the captain put porn on the TV again.
1730- relax, prepare for night watches if on watch that week, or watch movies.

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