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Nov 2 - Social side of life on board

Sunday 2nd November 2008

Position report at 14:00 GMT
Latitude: 32 07.7 S
Longitude: 029 46.1 W
Bearing: 127 °T, 909 Nm from Rio de Janeiro
Cruise Number: JR218
Distance Travelled: 215
Total Distance Travelled: 6658
Steam Time: 22.85
Total Steam Time: 574.31
Average Speed: 9.4
Total Average Speed: 11.6
Wind: Direction S, Force 7
Sea State: Rough
Air Temp: 16.9 °C Sea Temp: 17.3 °C
Pressure: 1019.5
Tendency: Falling

Distance from Cardiff at 14:00 GMT: 5,019.8 miles

This week, I shall provide you with a glimpse of the social side of life on-board. Whilst the scientists and crew have to work hard and for long hours, they usually manage to balance the work with less arduous activities from time to time. For example, on our journey through the tropics, some have made the most of the fine weather by doing circuit training out on the deck. It is amusing to watch people struggle with sit-ups and press-ups; as the rolling of the ship mocks the unwary exerciser it becomes near impossible for them to complete the task, then suddenly you see them shoot up easily against gravity, as the ship rolls to the other side.

Circuit training on the deck
Circuit training on the deck

An alternative to working up a sweat in the evenings, was to chill-out in the paddling/swimming pool which was thoughtfully provided by the engineers. We're hoping that the weather will settle soon, allowing us to indulge in an evening dip again.

But it is once the sun has gone down, that the excitement really begins: This week, it started with a game of Twister. As the doctor, I have a vested interest in ensuring that nobody gets hurt (so that my evening is not interrupted by having to run off an treat patients); whilst it is difficult enough to avoid injury when playing this game on terra firma, you can imagine the challenge when the floor itself is moving. Apart from a few minor bruises here and there, we did well!

Playing Twister
Playing Twister

To tempt fate further, the evening then progressed to people's attempting various physical feats. These included a game in which the winner is he/she who is able to collect (using their teeth) a piece of cardboard from the floor, without bending their legs nor touching the floor with any body-part other than the soles of their feet. Unsatisfied with the ease of this challenge, some upped the stakes by standing on a raised platform.

Martine
Martine
and... er... me
and... er... me

The traditional bar-stool race, in which the contestant snakes in and out of the stools without touching the ground, was another example of a means to prove a high pain threshold and the true extent of one's foolishness! I would like to point out, once more, that my involvement in such antics is purely from the perspective of journalistic curiosity, and of course, I would normally refrain, preserving my modest professional dignity!

Johnny demonstrating how to be a snake
Johnny demonstrating how to be a snake

And another game, the rules of which, nobody seemed quite to understand!  Played by Jim and Tom
And another game, the rules of which, nobody seemed quite to understand! Played by Jim and Tom

Given that the people around me are thus far managing to evade major injury, I have taken up a bit of hair-dressing in my spare time. It provides me and the victim's colleagues with a great deal of amusement, and those foolish enough to offer themselves up for my experimentation with their hair don't yet appear to be too psychologically scarred by the experience. My first two volunteers were Paul and Ben:

Paul's new look
Paul's new look
Ben's new hair do
Ben's new hair do

The face paints come as an optional extra!

In fact, they set off a trend, and on 31st October, many could be spotted sporting a similar look

Halloween
Halloween

Even Mike, the Sparky, was in a festive spirit!
Even Mike, the Sparky, was in a festive spirit!

It was on Halloween, in fact that Ash (chief cook), managed to catch me out: From time to time, I have offered my assistance in the galley (trying hard but probably not succeeding to avoid getting in the way) and on this particular day, Ash was teaching me how to make pickled onions. Demonstration over, I was sent to ask the Purser if he could give me the "long stand for the lamb burgers". Oblivious to the set up, I duly headed off to the bridge in search of the purser. Fortunately he was not there and by the time dinner was served I had twigged and so did not have to stand for a long time waiting for my burger.

My other culinary embarrassment this week, for which I have been teased mercilessly was with the production of high quality Welsh-cakes: Pleased with the delicious little cakes, I thought all on-board would appreciate a warm, fresh Welsh-cake. I therefore took a tray around, knocking on peoples' doors and offering them to all. It was only later that day that the etiquette with regards to doors was explained to me. Apparently those who are happy to be disturbed leave a curtain across their doorway, whilst those who are indisposed, showering, sleeping etc. keep the door closed. It is understood by all (including me now!) that a closed door means "do not disturb". I had wondered why so many people had opened the door in various states of undress and of consciousness. Oops. But the Welsh-cakes went down well!

As shown on the map below, we have finally altered our course from due south, so that we are now heading direct to the Falkland islands. Along with the change in direction has come a change in the weather - it is now significantly cooler and more choppy. I am delighted to report that my sea-legs are holding up thus far, and unlike my first few days at sea, I am actually rather enjoying the movement of the ship - it certainly makes walking/showering etc. a lot more fun. With the change in weather, we have also met and are currently being chaperoned by many birds, including the Grey-Headed Albatross:

Grey-Headed Albatross
Grey-Headed Albatross

Hopefully as we progress closer toward our destination we should see more and more wildlife. I'll keep my eye out for any good photos to show you next week.

Thanks to Mario, Ben, Jo and Mike for the photos in this week's web diary.


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