Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Panama City

Got here OK, few flight delays but nothing major. Got through customs and immigration, a driver picked me up and got more paper work sorted before delivering me to the ship. 

The weather, as you can imagine, is very warm. We all go around dripping on deck and enjoying the A/C inside. The nice thing about working in galley is you aren't at much risk of getting a sunburn!

We are at anchor here so to go ashore you have to take a tender in which means I haven't gone exploring much. My first excursion took me to a mall, very much like any North American mall, complete with a Santa to visit and Christmas trees etc. 

I've also visited Casco Viejo, the old part of town. It's a little touristy but interesting anyways. 

An interesting thing here is that during rush hour there are vendors selling snacks from little carts between the lanes of traffic! Good business opportunity really. 

We had Julefrokost here on board. It's a Danish lunch (though we had it for dinner) that you have to celebrate Christmas with co-workers or friends. Things on rye bread and lots of pork products. There were Christmas lights and Danish flags strung around the salon and it was quite festive. 

At night we get lots of pelicans flying or floating by. I didn't realise they are nocturnal. (Or else these guys are very confused). Haven't seen much other wildlife except gulls and giant moths. 

The first couple weeks the students were off on a jungle? rainforest? adventure and the teachers were back home for a break. Then the volunteers left for a few days of diving and the ship was quite quiet. Now of course everyone is back and we are ready to head out, spend Christmas at sea and sail to the Galapagos!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Race Two - Kristiansand to Aalborg

As with the other festival ports when we left Kristiansand it was as part of the parade of sail. This one seemed particularly spectacular, there were hundreds of boats out and as the ship from the host port we had a place of honour just behind the navy escort ship. 

This leg was our second race of the season, it was quite different to the first, much shorter for one thing and with light winds most of the time (which was amazing for galley work) it took a different sort of strategy. Everyone on the ship was dedicated to taking advantage of every wind shift, gust and current. In the end the race got cut short so that ships could turn on their engines and get to Aalborg in time. So rather than a finish line a time was announced and the ship furthest along after adjusting for handicaps (which are based on sail area) at that time would win. And… we won!!!! We knew we were sitting in first (of class) at 0500 that morning, the race finished at 1400 and around 2000 we found out the results!!! Amazing! 

It was a great day as besides the obvious race excitement we also hove to and had a quick swim call followed by ice cream treats.  

We stopped for one night in Hals, at the entrance to the Limfjorden that leads to Aalborg. While we were alongside we celebrated our trip together by eating a family dinner in the banjer. It's the only time the maritime crew and the trainees eat together so it's pretty special. 

Arriving in Aalborg was special, Carsten was coming to his hometown on the winning ship with an amazing crew. As we came in the trainees dressed the yards and sang sea shanties before we blasted our theme song, "Everything is Awesome" (from the Lego movie) and danced away. 

An now we are at our final festival of the year! All our events are externally catered which means us #galleygirls have had some shorter work days. Yay! Carsten is doing a live TV show every night and the crew is still celebrating our success. It's a great way to end the summer. 

A nice event for me was having my aunt, uncle and cousin come by as part of their Scandinavian tour. They got a very thorough tour of the ship and we were able to go out for dinner together. After being away so long it's nice to see people you know from outside the ship world. 

Somehow I didn't take many photos this sail but here are some of Aalborg:

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ålesund to Kristiansand

This leg was a Cruise in Company, not a race. That means we had a more relaxed time and were able to stop at a few different ports. First off we were back down the Gierangerfjord for an anchor retrieval ceremony. Sørlandet lost an anchor in the fjord 5 years ago and we went with the other Norwegian tall ships, Lehmkuhl and Raddich, to retrieve it. It was a breathtaking scene with the three tall ships in this amazing fjord.

Other stops on the way were Rosendal and Sirevåg. Rosendal was just for a few hours. A tiny town with a mountain backdrop. It looked less typical Norsk then many of the places we've been but just as beautiful. In Sirevåg we had an evening deck party as did the few other ships that were there. For a tiny town they sure had a lot of people out to their tall ships event. 

We stopped by Bergen to drop off a trainee and took an evening tour around the harbour (as you do). It was one of my favourite ports last year so nice to be back for a quick look. 

On this leg galley felt more manageable, like we could work steady, not crazy, and still accomplish what we had to. I think having more… "mature" trainees helped as they were generally more considerate and thoughtful. Anyways it was a welcome change!

The Kristiansand festival was madness! Something like 14 events onboard over 4 days! Thankfully not all needed attention from the catering department but even so it meant all departments were stretched a little thin. We had two events with finger food for 150 which requires a lot of prep work, now that we've done it a couple times we know how it's going to go which helps a lot. We also had 2 fish soup events and happily I was able to get some trainees to help peel shrimp on the last day of the voyage! One lady had been in a shrimp peeling contest and did 30 shrimp in 4 minutes. And that is it for shrimp this summer!!  My grand total of shrimp peeled is 170 kg. Once we finished these parties we shared some our leftover shrimp with another ship that Carsten used to work on and I gave the cook my shrimpilettes. I hope she wears them with pride!

Despite long hours most days I did get a long afternoon break one day. I went to the pool/indoor water park which was free for crew. Mostly I was excited to sit in a hot tub and take a long shower with no water restrictions. Both achieved! I also tried the water slide which was fun. Afterwards I walked around the festival for a bit and saw the awards ceremony where we won Most Spectacular Arrival. (We came in under full sail). I also had the time to visit Meg, one of the AB's from Sørlandet, on Tecla, the boat she's working on this summer. It's a lot smaller than Sørlandet but really cozy feeling. 

And now we are sailing our second and last race for the summer before a final festival in Aalborg, Denmark and I am counting down the days till I'm home. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race One - Belfast, Northern Ireland to Alesund, Norway

This sail was anything but dull!  It was one of the most varied passages I've had on board, hard to believe it was only 9 days long!  As the title says, this leg was one of the tall ships races for the summer.  Racing means sailing, not motoring, and sailing more aggressively than we might do otherwise.  We started off with a gentle sail out to the start line and a couple hours at anchor to avoid crossing the line too early.  Then once the race began we had strong winds, largeish seas and lots of seasick people.  While the winds lasted we kept up good speed, getting over 12 knots and holding 11 knots for an entire 4 hour watch. As the race went on the winds died down at bit, till they were almost gone at the end.  The exciting thing was that we amongst the leaders for most of the race and finished in second place!  As we crossed the line everyone was on deck, we cheered and blew the horn and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.  Of the three Norwegian tall ships Sorlandet is considered the "little sister" so it was quite a nice feeling to be second overall and ahead of the other Norwegian ships.  We also won the award for most international crew so quite an exciting time to be on board.

Crossing the finish line

As we left Belfast a bagpiper in a boat came by and serenaded us!
At the end of the race we were in the Arctic Ocean which may account for the cool weather we've been having.  Since we finished the race early and didn't have to be in Alesund right away we were able to take a trip into the Geirangerfjord.  Absolutely stunning!  Spent a day going down the fjord, a day at anchor and then another day leaving.  At anchor a bunch of us went swimming! Although we missed the "official" swim call Nadia & I did our own swim call during our afternoon break.  Yes, it was cold!  And now I can say I've swum above the 62nd parallel.

It was another full crew, 88 people on board as well as a new cook, Kerry, who joined us in Belfast.  Needless to say galley was not dull this leg.  Two of the people who joined for this sail were Sture's (captain) father and daughter.  They sailed with us last year as well, from Edinburgh to Kristiansand for the Class Afloat graduation.  This summer they were here a bit longer and I got to know them both more.  Ariel is 7 and is just starting to learn English at school, I am trying to learn a little Norwegian and having her around was a great opportunity to practice and learn some new words and phrases. She was quite patient most of the time though she was quite aghast at my attempt to roll my Rs and once pointed out that I clearly hadn't studied my "homework" (we drew pictures and labeled them in Norsk) when I asked her (again) the word for shoe.  Ariel happily tried many jobs around the ship and she came to the galley a few times to help bake treats for afternoon coffee. She also kept me busy knitting.  When she arrived I was knitting a hippopotamus for Maria, one of the volunteers on board, and Ariel was quite interested to see how it would look when finished so asked me daily if I would knit.  Once that hippo was finished I offered to make her one as well, warning her that it probably wouldn't be done before she left but I could leave it for her dad to take home on his next rotation.  Of course this was eagerly agreed to and it turned out I did have time to finish "Ida" before Ariel left.  So now my Norwegian vocabulary includes the words for hippopotamus (literally translated it's river horse) and knitting.

The rare Norwegian hippopotamus.  His name is Bruce.
Evening knit session on deck.
Baking with Ariel.

Alesund was another festival, smaller then Belfast which was nice as it didn't take half an hour of walking just to leave the festival grounds!  We had a couple deck parties and I was back to shrimp master for a couple days.  Other then walking around town I didn't really take the chance to see anything, but used my off time to catch up on organizing pictures, e-mails, Skyping and spending time with the crew.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Festivals Begin! Belfast, Northern Ireland

The sail to Belfast was rather busy! We were 89 people on board and it took everyone a couple days to get into the routines of life at sea and get the new trainees set in the ways of the ship. Happily as the sail progressed things did get better and my days felt merely busy, not purely survival. 

En route we had an afternoon stop over in Stavanger to pick up some trainees and then we were off to Belfast. Winds weren't favourable and as we were on a tight time schedule we had to motor a lot of the way. We did getan afternoon's sailing in which was lovely. 

During the sail the weather continued to be chilly but as I work inside and keep moving I'm generally in just a T-shirt while the deck crew are in sweaters, jackets and lots of layers.  Makes a change from usual when I am the warmly dressed one!

Saw a couple dolphins on the sail which is always nice. We also heard this strange thumping noise one day which turned out to be coming from an oil rig!  

As well as the challenge of having all new trainees the #galleygirls have the added challenge of new trainee galley crew every 4 hours. So each day we have 9 new people to train and organize. Keeps us busy for sure!

Celebrated Canada Day at sea by hoising the Canadian flag, sporting maple leaf (temporary) tattoos and any other Canada garb we could find. 

In port we've had some time off as people eating on board are fewer. That's been nice. Went into town and visited Marks & Spencer as well as Tesco. Got a few different teas to try and rhubarb yogurt. Haven't explored the festival much but it seems to be much the same as any festival, carnival rides, variety of food booths, family activities etc. 

Next up a 10 day sail to ålesund, Norway and race #1!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Week 14 - End of Daysail Season

This week we wrapped up daysail season. Three in a row evening sails culminating in a triple 50th birthday celebration. 

End of daysails means most of my shrimp peeling is done (we have a few events during tall ships festivals that we will be needing shrimp for). 130 kilos later I figured I'd earned some "shrimpilettes". (#galleygirl has too much off time?)

A few late starts meant that I had the chance to do some mornig runs. I found out the giant hill I've tackled (successfully) is called the Will Hill (well it's called something in Norwegian that means that). A very fitting name. Here is the view from the top. 

One morning run was quite warm and I finished with a super short swim! Must be summer!

I've been teaching one of my shipmates to knit. It's going well, she's done one mitten and working on her second. 

On Sunday we had our annual galley dinner out at a lovely harbourview restaurant. It was lovely to take our time over a delcious dinner that we didn't have to prepare!

I got a new plant from a shipmate and it's surviving quite well so far. Nice addition to the cabin! 

The last couple days have been full of things we need to do before welcoming 70 trainees - organising, putting things away, making lists and checking them twice etc. Ready or not here they come! Next installment coming from Belfast!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Week 13 - The Same and Different

This was another week of day sail arrangements. Of course no two weeks are exactly the same, this is what was different this week:

Nadia and I began the project of returning all the refundable cans and bottles from day sails. We each walked two garbage bags full up to the grocery store and fed them into the self-serve machine which we managed to jam a number of times before finishing. 

On one of the nice weather days we had a BBQ quayside. It was a great night to sit outside and enjoy a meal in the fresh air. 

I went back to the library and got out a couple more books. Not sure if I'll like them both but the beauty of the library is of course that if I don't like them I just return them!

I added a top to the tea cozy I knit a few weeks back and am now considering starting a sweater after noticing a deal running at local craft store where you could get the yarn and pattern for a sweater for 299NOK (about $45). One thing I love about Kristiansand is there are about 4 or 5 stores selling yarn and knitting supplies within easy walking distance of the ship. 

One of our arrangements started with the Jr Sorlandet Shanty Choir singing a few songs. Well I didn't realise quite how Jr they were going to be - they turned out to be preschool/kindergarten age! They did really well and clearly enjoyed the song where they got to "haul" on a rope. 

There were a few days with no arrangements this week and we used that time to do some organising and preparing. 

A few crew changes and additions this week. We're up to 20 now and more to come this next week before we leave for Tall Ships Festivals. 

And of course some things stay the same: beautiful fjords, shrimp to peel, runs to go on, letters to write, etc. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Week 12 - Southern Norway Take 2

A lot of the same ports this week: Kristiansand, Arendal, Lillesand. More events on board, more shrimp peeling! 

Friday and Saturday were very busy - on Friday we had an evening sail with buffet dinner for 120 and then Saturday we had a lunchtime sail with finger food for another 120. Luckily we are now practised at the buffet game and while it's a super busy day we kind of have the hang of it and know the flow of things to do. The finger food went pretty well as well. Got to use up some of our toothpick supply! ;) 

Thankfully Sunday we didn't have any events and the crew worked a shorter day than usual. Nadia and I did some deep cleaning which was very satisfying and still had time to run, shower, do laundry and clean our cabin! 

The next 2 weeks we'll be in Kristiansand doing more events and getting ready for tall ships races so things are busy and about to get busier!