Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 18:45 | by Alistair Baillie

Greetings from somewhere in the middle of the atlantic ocean.

Continuing on from last time…

We arrived in Rio on Wednesday and Marc, Ian, the marine admin officer, one of the nurses, the chief engineer and me headed out for a private tour of Rio in a mini bus. We left the ship at 1100 and had to be back onboard for 1500, so we headed for Sugarloaf Mountain driving a bit through Rio on the way and stopping at the place where they hold the main part of the Carnival. We got to Sugarloaf and wen’t up in the cable car, which is in two sections, it goes very fast and has some excellent views. Once we got to the top we took a load of photos and then headed back down again, and went off to Copacabana to get lunch and then wonder about the beach for a short time. On the way back to the ship we went to a park which is on a hill and has views over the entire of Rio, the statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. We got back to the ship with a few minutes to spare, we were going to goto the football stadium as well but the traffic was too bad.

After leaving Rio we visited Salvador where I was assigned to ‘supervise’ the garbage offloading. Really not the best idea when I had no idea what I was doing, so I ended up just standing out of the way and making sure no one tried to come onto the ship.

We then visited Recife where I was working with Marc and Safety Officer lowering and raising the lifeboats to test the hydrostatic release system after it failed causing one of the boats to get stuck in the water at the last drill. In the afternoon I got to use the cranes to lift the gangway from the shore back onto the forward mooring deck and to remove our provisioning platform.

The next day was the first of six sea days as we cross the atlantic at an incredibly slow speed and also the start of my week with the Bosun. I spent the day on the aft mooring deck, cleaning it in the morning, then painting the winches and anything else that looked like it needed painting for the rest of the afternoon. And at noon I had to go to the bridge to do the mid day position announcement.

Day two at sea had us crossing the equator at 0700, I unlike a lot of the passengers didn’t bother getting out of bed to “see it”. I spent the morning with the Abs, then in the afternoon we had our crossing the line ceremony for the passengers. It took the form of “Neptune’s Challenge” where he came onboard with his wife and a mermaid (played by one of the stage technicians, one of the girls from reception and one of the singers). The challenge was a modification of the “Officer vs Passenger” games we did in brazil, and had Marc, Ian, Me, a dancer and Sharia fetching ducks from the pool, passing a balloon full of water between each other, throwing balloons at the other team, and a pillow fight over the pool. In the end the Officers had won, due to the passengers all falling off the beam over the pool before they even got hit – which wasn’t what was meant to happen, so they changed the rules and let the passengers win. For the finally they covered us in flour, egg, pasta and various other stuff, and made us all jump into the pool.

Day three I spent painting yellow railings in the morning, then in the afternoon I was watching them working down at one of the potable water tanks, until the Deputy Captain turned up and I went down with him. The tank was huge and extremely difficult to get too. It involved climbing down into this huge room, then along a very narrow opening between two bulkheads and then down a ladder onto some pipes, which you had to balance across ducking under other pipes till you got to the side, then had to climb onto the hull strengthening and then swing yourself through a tiny opening in the tank. The tank wasn’t really that interesting, just a huge empty space, although it was spotlessly clean and white inside.

Today they were working on the starboard potable water tank at the front so I was helping out there, but I didn’t get to go down to see it this time. In the afternoon the captain tested us all on flags, phonetic alphabet, and the single letter meaning of the flags. That bit went well, Morse on the other hand for me didn’t. I seem to have problems learning it since there isn’t a sequence to it, it’s just random – except the numbers which are easy.

Anyway, we now have only two more days left at sea before we hit Santa Cruz (Tenerife) so I’ll write some more when we get to Palma a week on Saturday.

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