UK or Bust: Challenges at Sea

Day 18

7:04pm Mid-Atlantic Time

Location: About 150 miles northwest of the Azores

Weather: about 4 metre swells (relatively calm, though the wind is blowing and it has been overcast all day, and has just started to rain)



This has been the most challenging day so far at sea, to be honest. First of all, I partied with the crew last night which was actually really fun- we watched Guns n’ Roses and Shakira DVDs and sang karaoke, and I probably had one too many Becks…. and then before I fell asleep last night, I opened the window in my cabin in order to get some fresh air. Well I woke up at some point in the morning gasping for breath, as my whole cabin had filled with noxious smoke from the ship’s smokestacks. Apparently the wind shifted, and it must have taken me a while to wake up, because I felt really poisoned when I finally woke up and shut the window. Ugh.


Even with the window closed, in the accommodation block there is always at least the hint of fuel oil exhaust. That, combined with the cigarette smoke from the officers and crew (some of the crew and most of the officers smoke) makes the air quality less than pristine in the best of circumstances.


I ate dinner with the German officers this evening, and they and the other passenger Barbara were speaking in German, so I decided to read my book and keep to myself. I’ve been giving the cook veggie burgers to replace the pork and beef with, as I usually don’t eat much red meat. Well I’ve run out of veggie burgers, so I was forced to eat their beef, which wasn’t the best.


Yesterday, I had asked one of the engineers about touring the engine room. They told me the best time to come down was 2pm. Apparently they considered this an appointment for a tour, whereas I understood it as simply a possible time to come by for a visit. Anyway, being poisoned the night before by said engine, needless to say I was not too enthusiastic to get closer to the great fossil fuel burning beast (albeit a beast that is powering us to Europe) so I decided to give it a miss. I probably should have told them, but I didn’t.


At dinner, one of the engineers who looks a little like a member of the Addams Family, suddenly switched into English: “Hey YOU! Where were you this afternoon for your tour of the engine room???” I said, “oh sorry I thought I told you I would maybe come by..” He replied in a gruff tone, “no MAYBE about it blah blah blah…..”


I was pretty pissed off that he was speaking to me like some junior deckhand. I said, “I’m sorry I missed the tour but I think it’s inappropriate the way you are speaking to me. I’m paying a lot of money to be here and the least you can do is to treat me with respect!” I felt good about standing up for myself, but at the same time, a little apprehensive about rocking the proverbial boat when we still have 4 days out in the Atlantic together.


Ultimately it was just a misunderstanding, and I will speak to the guy and hopefully smooth things over, but the German officers can be quite gruff at times. The Filipino crew are generally very friendly, and I have been getting on very well with them.


We’ll see how it goes the next few days- I guess this is the midpoint of the voyage, so we’re getting there- hopefully the remainder of the trip will be more pleasant than today!


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