Saturday, August 22, 2009

How to navigate greywater and other life lessons

So this is what happens when you're on a ship that wobbles like a chubby old lady out for her daily schlep -- you wake up each morning and discover that while you were sleeping and dreaming hopelessly of the wonderfulness that is solid ground and all that determinedly stays on it, things in your closet-sized cabin move, slip, slide, and land ceremoniously into the dustbin next to your uselessly bevelled coffee table. Aside from laying your sad, little possessions on the floor like a garage sale, each lying in wait to be stepped on in the wee, incoherent hours of the day, there's little that can be done. Other than, of course, ensuring that your dustbin never houses anything remotely resembling trash. The dustbin thereby lies promoted to a receptacle of all that isn't fettered to a larger, more stubborn object. Like yourself. I've started wearing a lot of my stuff to bed. And underneath my pillow lies a veritable flea market.

This leads, naturally, to the conclusion that, for the above reasons, one's toilet bowl must always remain firmly closed when not in use.

Now that I have glided into the realm of the bathroom, I feel compelled to share another life lesson. The art of preventing bathwater (or, more accurately, shower-water) from making an escape into your already rank cabin and successfully guiding it into a coin-sized shower drain. Two options exist for the shower-contemplators:

1) Do it the usual way, with the shower open to full capacity, drowning you in a deluge of delightfully warm water. This is the fun, normal way, the one that results in the whole exercise being the enjoyable experience that it's meant to be. Of course, you can forget about leaving that bathroom and entering your cabin for the next 24 hours. The time you spend inside the bathroom as your not-so-delightful greywater invades and annexes your cabin floor can be spent doing some mental arithmetic to calculate to rate of evaporation of water per square centimetre.

2) Unhook shower head from the stand and retreat to the far corner of your shower well. Meaning, move three inches backward from your shower curtain. This should ensure that you are no longer in physical contact with the shower curtain. Now think thin and cower into a miserable lump. Turn the shower knob ever so slightly to obtain a medium-sized trickle of water. "Douse" self with aforementioned trickle, slather soap, and re-douse. Note that the dousing process when achieved by a trickle of water, takes exponentially longer than when using a shower the normal way. By the power of 83,376. Once complete, switch off the shower, thus killing the trickle. You may now stop cowering. Replace shower head on its stand, and tremulously part shower curtain. If, at this point, you notice that despite your best efforts, some bathwater has escaped onto the bathroom floor, moan and curse loudly. Yet, ever so optimistically and bravely, open the bathroom door a crack. If you see a water-invasion (a minor water-ingress is acceptable) on your cabin floor, return to cowering position. Towel yourself dry if required, because it's going to be one long night, asleep in that bathroom.
Final point of note -- we have easily the most sensitive fire alarm onboard. Breath smelling of freshly consumed smoked meat or potatoes would probably set the damn thing off. Why do I say this? Ask them poor souls who were blissfully asleep at 5 a.m. three days ago when the alarm went crazy for long enough for all of us to muster, before the officer on watch sheepishly announced that the alarm (and he, presumably) had gone bonkers. Or last night, when I was not-so-blissfully asleep at 9 p.m. This time, I only got as far as putting on my shoes before the hapless second officer announced with resignation, "False alarm, false alarm. Sighhhhhhhhh..."

Maybe I should start sleeping in coveralls and safety shoes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


São Miguel, little green Azores.

Okay, more brown-black than green. Wiki lied.

I swore and swore and swore that this post would have real, actual text strewn about everywhere, real written stuff. Proper words and everything, even whole sentences, after what feels like centuries of silence. Ambitious plans, I made.

And now, sitting in my cabin after a day of painting signs on large, white, missile-shaped GPS receivers, carpentry and screw-drivery and hole-drill-ery, climbing up and down rickety stairs wearing blindingly orange coveralls, profuse sweating, excessive email checking and Googling strange things, I'm left without one sensible or interesting thing to say. My sole purpose in rambling thus far has been to convince myself that I've done the daily verbal spew I promised I'd start doing. Box ticked. A-okay. More like D-minus-not-okay.

But it's a start. The middle will also happen. Soonly. Tomorrow, I swear.

Thursday, May 14, 2009