Just Me, Nobody Special

Enjoy a browse in my world

Day Eleven ~ Mast Climbing

Tuesday 18th May

Only one sitting for breakfast today there were a few quiet faces and people swapping stories of where they found to eat and impressions of the island, my apple juice, rice crispies, toast and full cooked was superbly delicious.  

After the morning meeting of the permanent crew and watch leaders, we were all on deck for the assisted climbs and hauling of wheelchairs, after which the voyage photo would be taken alongside.  I was the first, although I have done it before I was still anxious.  Simon talked the haulers through what was going to happen, the commands that would be given and added a very reassuring “Their life really is in your hands and there can be no better show of trust, because if you guys let go or don’t pull together the only way is down to the deck heavily”, thanks for that encouragement Simon!  Two addition shackles had to be added in order for my chair to be level and not tilted back slightly, then the worrying words “Haul away” and I was hoisted upwards.  As I went up I could feel the wind begin to get stronger and start to sway me, I looked down and felt very much like a suspended pendulum, it seemed ages until I reached the crosstree where Nick and John were waiting to ease me over the safety railing and onto the platform. We watched as Genenko climbed the Main ratlines assisted by Rosie.  The view is breathtaking the maze of ropes and stays just as confusing as on the deck.  When I was ready I was hoisted over the safety railing and then heard Nick exclaim “Oh f**k the ropes twisted in the block.  Stay there a minute” like I was going anywhere!  He stood atop the safety rail and tried to shake the twist loose but it wouldn’t play fair so I had to be lowered back to the crosstree so Nick could unhook the block and remove the twist.  We were all so preoccupied by the block he forgot to take my picture on the way down.  The wind was swinging me again on the way down, it is a truly unsettling feeling and I was glad to reach the security of the deck.

Ruth and I are planning to go ashore after lunch to enjoy some iced coke do some shopping and have dinner ashore, we won’t be late back as Ruth has harbour watch from 4am til 6am, I don’t as I would be on mess duty.  

We discussed the impressions of yesterday and thought that Barbara was a little stressed yesterday, on Lord Nelson there is a strict rule that no one accept the on watch is allowed on the Bridge, and as the Bridge is through the chart room you don’t get many wanderers but on Tenacious you do and a couple of times she had to tell people to go on deck and clear the Bridge.  

During smoko we saw her in uniform doing the dignitary’s tour of the ship, showing the local Agent and Port Manager among others, as they were leaving we spotted a framed picture of the ship being carried under arm.  Not sure if it was a greasing of palm or bribery, ahh the unwritten rules of the sea.  

Our arrival here marks the change of feeling on board, we are no longer setting off to somewhere, we are now closer to reaching our final destination Miami in a relatively short space of time, which seems sad.

Lunch today was club sandwiches, yes we’ve still got a bread mountain, okay so sandwich construction goes, buttered bread, chicken breast with mayo, buttered bread, lettuce cucumber and tomato, buttered bread skewered with a stick, a dislocatable jaw would be an asset here.

A gang of us bundled into the taxi and sped off to town.  Ruth, Lynda and I got out at the International Bazaar while the others headed to the beach.  We spent a wonderful time wandering around the various shops and stalls, places like Versace, the Lalique boutique, as well as fabulous jewellery shops all very sparkling and expensive.  I found two gold charms, a starfish and a turtle at Paradise Jewellers and they were 50% off too, nicely priced.  We picked up some souvenir t shirts and postcards and some of my favourite perfume, cheaper than when I got some last time in Miami.  During our wander we came across a lovely Chinese restaurant and decided to eat there.  I had chicken wings to start and lobster with special fried rice, the portions were heaped even by Graham’s standards, incredibly filling.

Ruth and I hailed a taxi and returned to the ship.  The journey back was about 15 minutes and we chatted with the driver about the local economy, unemployment is a problem with the world’s oil crisis, tourism now being the islands primary income.  The crime rate is low as is drug abuse but not alcohol abuse.

Chips helped pull my chair up the gangway, for which he got a cuddle when I reached the top.  When I was in the lift going down to the Main deck he and Dave kept playing with the buttons which over ride the inside ones, making the lift stop go up and down.  It wasn’t til I told them they might see what I had for dinner that they stopped and let me elegantly descend.

When I got to bed, I laid on my back, not particularly looking forward to tomorrow on mess duty, there is so little I can do.

Day Twelve ~ All Together

Wednesday 19th May

Being on mess duty was on my mind and I awoke early around 5am.  There would only be one sitting for breakfast as we were in harbour, so for me that means ‘bun on the run’, a lot for Kim, Thyra [the intrepid 87 year old] and myself to do all at once.  After munching my cereal and toast I started with the buckets, one for dirties, one for mugs and glasses and one for the slops.  

As a gesture the aft starboard watch had arranged for Thyra to be on the helm when we left the harbour, it was also a cunning plan to stop her getting over tired, Fee was going to the mess duty. After washing the breakfast plates, mugs, bowls, side plates, cutlery and cooking pots, pans, trays and utensils, our task was to check and put away the dry store stock.  It had been emptied and scrubbed out ready for Health Inspection when we arrive in Miami.  This quickly became a nightmare, crates all over the bar full of various food items like flour, sugar, tinned fruits, coffee, tea bags, cereals, as well as pickle jars, Mayo jars and cooking oil.  It was a tall task and no way would the three of us be able to do it before lunch setting, we put out a tannoy message for helpers.  Ruth, Sue and Chris appeared, we were out of the harbour and back on open water and Kim got seasick quickly and had to go on deck, Fee twisted her back while trying to get a crate on the shelf, great!  At this point Barbara and Jo came to help.  We formed a chain and passed items along with me shouting the shelf name and number where it belonged.  All the same we worked through happy hour and smoko.  Barbara went looking for Graham to ask why we had so much sugar on board, bags of brown, granulated, castor, and icing, his reply was “Because Silver Spoon donated six tones of it”.  It was noon before we had finished and I passed Graham the list of items we were short of.

This meant we were very late in setting the mess tables for lunch, but Thyra had done the upper mess and Jo did the lower mess as we were called to eat.  Lunch was BBQ spare ribs which were so succulent they fell from the bone with noodles.  Down to the lower mess to deal with the dishing out and dirtied returns, thankfully once the washing up was done and the galley washed down and everything put away, that was it mess duty done.

I was woken by the tannoy at 3pm announcing that Jo would be in the upper mess taking the orders and payment for the voyage and watch photos before smoko.  We were back on watch at 4pm, I was planted straight into the helm chair, this time taking instructions from Roger as we approached Great Isaac Island where we were going to anchour off to allow some people to go swimming.  The fun side being that our watch was short and sweet.  I watched the swimmers dive from the ship, Robert was lowered down from his wheelchair.  We forgot about his cushion in the transfer seat and it got soaked, hopefully the sun baked deck would dry it out quickly.

Dinner was a little late [Graham and mess crew had gone swimming], but it was worth waiting for.  Steak with cabbage and cauliflower and boiled potatoes [we need to eat as much of the raw foods as possible].  

It’s been a busy hectic day and I was grateful to have a quick wash and straighten the cabin before getting to bed.

Day Thirteen ~ Miami bound

Thursday 20th May

I was on watch from 4am to 8am.  It was a calm warm night, the breeze stiff and even and we were happily sailing along at 5 knots.  Rosie’s watch which precedes our had had another exciting night, a call came on our radio from a fleet of US Navy vessels, Roger was woken and called to deal with.  They wanted to know what our intentions were and to tell us to change course, Roger replied that we were Sailing Vessel Tenacious and as we were under sail Maritime Law decreed that they should alter course, they wished us well and moved out our way.

I saw a cruise ship on the far horizon and the glow of the Miami lights was visible on the edge of the horizon.  At starboard look out I watched lights move in the sky, aeroplanes approaching Miami.  I saw a wonderfully bold shooting star hurtle across the skyline and made a wish.  There was something very moving of being at the wheel as the dawn crested on my last day at sea.  As my watch came to an end, sitting at starboard look out I could see the familiar shape of the Miami coast line.

Down below for breakfast feeling a little subdued.  The good news was that happy hour would be suspended as we needed to do a harbour stow for entering Miami, the pilot had been booked for 10am and arrived with newspaper in hand.  Everyone was on deck, the sunshine brilliant and baking us all again.  We slipped through the harbour entrance, launched the DoTi with the landing party and were alongside a little after 11am.

To greet us were four police cars, two coast guard vessels and two customs vehicles.  They boarded as soon as the gangway was secured.  Then we waited for bureaucracy to march its slow time.  We had to go to the Bridge to collect our passports and customs card, complete the customs card and go to the upper mess where Immigration would stamp our passports ask a couple of questions and take the customs cards.  Sounds simple, accept they could not grasp the concept that we were all ‘crew’ and not ‘passengers’ we had signed the ships articles a legally defined document as per Maritime Law.  Sadly the American embassy in Bermuda had told the Bermudians that they did not need visas but they did so they had to go through a more complex procedure.

Coastguard Officials with permanent crew as escorts searched the ship, not just lockers and cupboard but engine rooms, fire exit hatches, everywhere.  Every door had to be bolted and lockable from the inside, the life jacket boxes on deck had to be tagged as did fire exit doors and storage lockers, instruction had to be given as to how often these tags were checked to make sure they had not been tampered with.  They inspected the Officers log and the voyage log books.

None of us could leave the ship til all procedures had been done and we were officially permitted to do so, we sat about and waited, waiting some more and waited, the sun was beating down and our cooling breeze was no longer there, the temperature was spiking into the 100°s.  Finally we were given the ‘all-clear’ and lunch could be served, it was 3 o clock.  The pizza and salad were hungrily devoured by all on deck.

Ruth and I spent the afternoon trying to prove that there is a fourth dimension and that the insides of our luggage bags are larger than the outside, with plenty of stuffing and squeezing we packed the majority of our clutter.  We scrubbed and preened ourselves ready for the evening festivities.

The whole crew were going to dine ashore, we accumulated on deck and after checking three times that we each had our watch cards, I90 immigration cards and passports we trundled to one of the security check points were the taxi’s could wait for us.  Lombardi’s is a waterfront restaurant at the Bayside complex and they had laid tables for our large group.  It was a plush place, the table cloths were covered with white paper and curious tubs of crayons were hiding between the condiments and flora display.  It was too tempting.

We started with complimentary garlic bread, I then had spiced chicken wings and had prawn bisque to follow, the food was piping hot but the portions definitely not upto Grahams dimensions.  We did a taste comparison with a local beer, it took three rounds before we decided that it wasn’t as potent as that back on board.  We dribbed and drabbed back to the taxi ranks, where it was decidedly harder to find cabs that would take us wheelies, I should have taken their numbers and reported them but we were more concerned about Domi who was in some discomfort and needed to get back to the ship.

We rolled onboard just as Miami experienced a short sharp shower, Chips hauled me aboard and continued to roll me to the starboard side where I got severely dripped on.  Strange how my bunk was rolling even though we were in dock.

Day Fourteen ~ Homeward

Thursday 21st May

The wake up call for the one sitting breakfast was extra loud and we stuffed the last of our bits in our bags and struggled to get the zips and clasps closed.  After the usual full fair Barbara came down and thanked us all for making the trip such fun and joining in, especially as we were such a small crew.  The procedure for handing in our safety harnesses, straps and transfer chairs, we then signed the ships articles to mark our release as crew and received our voyage certificate.

Our happy hour reprieve was more of a postponement and all hands were called to clean Ship from deepest dark hole to highest deck housing, it is then when you really know just how big the ship is, as floors are scrubbed and vacuumed.

Morning smoko saw Graham making tray loads of bacon sandwiches.  The taxi’s to take us to the airport were due to pick us up at 1pm so there would be no lunch.  

Crew mingled and lazed on deck, not enough time to get to any shops yet time enough to pack and say our farewells.

The taxis were late, Simon called Dispatcher who confirmed that the cars said they couldn’t find us.  Strange we’re not exactly concealed so we waited a little longer.  The taxis still had not arrived by 1.30 so Simon called again, this time the Dispatcher sent four new taxis to get us and the originals were told to “Go hide for the next 2 hours I’m giving you no work”.

The Port Security allowed the taxis to be escorted to the ship where we loaded up, tearful farewells, hugs and kisses, jokes and smiles round one.  At the Airport as some people were taking different flights there were more tearful farewells, hugs and kisses jokes and smiles all-round.

The trip felt over, now it was a case of getting home.  Watching the flight tracker on the TV I smiled, we were flying out over Grand Bahama and Bermuda, that which we had excitingly and leisurely sailed in two weeks was flown across in an hour. 

I guess the quote is correct “It is better to travel than arrive”