Day two at sea. The next day at breakfast there was some gentle teasing from the men. I’d missed lunch and dinner. Had I been sick? How was I coping with the weather? Honestly, I coped extremely well by avoiding it. I was tired. I did need to rest. But a whole day and night?
After brekkie I introduced myself to the Bridge.
The Philippines were to starboard and we travelled at 15 knots. We were now 411 nautical miles south of Kaohsiung. Twenty-five-year-old Myo Han had been promoted to Third Officer fifteen days before.
He was serious, diligent and extremely polite. We were riding the tail of Typhoon Quiel, which explained the ship’s rolling. The Typhoon, obligingly, was headed to China. We proceeded South East.
When I woke the rain obscured the horizon with a misty pillar from sea to sky. The sea went from gun-metal at first light to an intense navy blue by breakfast time. There were not many white horses and the rain continued to blend into the sea during the day. Perhaps the rain was soothing the waters.
I had thought there would be other passengers to talk to. Some container ships can take up to twelve paying customers, depending on empty cabins, of course. The Captain, busy with his pancakes, offered to upgrade me to the Owner’s cabin. The Owner was French but on paper the company is run by a group out of Shanghai. Captain Alessandru supposed there were 500 ships sailing with CMA CGM but, perhaps less than 250 were owned outright by the company, the rest under charter. Money and assets were beyond his purview. He would talk to Messy about cleaning the upgrade cabin.
The Coral now flew the flag of Malta, Valleta, painted across her stern. Not long ago it said London. Apparently the company decided Brexit too high a risk and moved their business before the dominos tumbled.
The rain continued to fall.
Third Officer Myo Han turned the windscreen wipers on across the big Bridge windows.
Back in my cabin, Aung Min Htut, the Fire Safety Officer, came to teach me the emergency procedures.
General alarm: seven short blasts and one long – go to Master’s Office upstairs.
Fire: long, long – go up
Abandon ship: short, long, short, long followed by Master’s instructions. Go down to C deck.
Immersion suit on top of wardrobe. (In a little red suitcase).
If I saw someone fall overboard I should shout: ‘Man Overboard’ and throw them a lifebuoy.
If I saw a fire I should break emergency glass and rip open a fire extinguisher. Unless it was gas. Then I should run away.
Everyone sat in their designated spot at dinner time. I stared at the salad bar. Win came to serve me and got agitated if I tried to help him by delivering dishes to the washing up room. He was assiduous in caring for me, bringing me whatever fruit I required and worried about my lack of protein. Remembering Teddy, I explained to Tin Htun, the Chief Cook, and Win, that I was like a monk and very happy with broccoli and rice.
‘Thank you’ in Myanmar is ‘Kya zoo tin pe tai’ which sounds like ‘Chey zee tah mah ee.’
The meals were tasty, various stir fried veg, plain or fried rice and sometimes excellent chips. A delicious potato salad one night and corn fried with onions another. I felt lucky and well-looked after.
I did have expectations for once more I felt disappointed by not having someone else to chat to. It was even worse than a café. At least in a café there was debate about what to order and chit chat with staff about location or weather. Here it was apparent I was not expected to socialise in any way. It was difficult because I was the only woman, I suppose, and as usual, I assumed folk didn’t really like chatting in English with a native speaker. I got on with my book.
Why I was continually surprised the sea kept changing? Of course, it was all the same ocean. There were light, wind and rain, currents, depths and temperatures plus the lie of the unseen land and trenches that altered the way the water rolled and smacked itself. I kept thinking of Rachel Carson’s brilliant book ‘The Sea Around Us‘.
I also reflected on the Tao and the verses I’d taken to apply to the ever-changing Camino; first straight, then crooked, then different. The same applies to the sea, although there were no boundaries, no pathways and no road edges here.
Up on the Bridge the officers plotted two courses, one intended and one actual. The current guide, or direction course, drove straight through New Guinea though, of course, we wouldn’t be doing that.
It was Day 38 of my trip from England and the Tao said, to prefer reality, not glory.
I progressed in my reality that day. I introduced myself to the Bridge, ate 3 meals and began designing my tapestry. Read ‘The Ice Princess’ by Camilla Läckberg (enjoyable and twisty), won my 3rd hand of solitaire, had a shower and a basic safety induction. Ship not rolling quite so much. Back to sleep!