What is the meaning of life? How many dry and cheesy jokes can one single captain have in his back pocket? Life is filled with big and important questions like these, but today I got the answer to maybe the biggest, overwhelming and frequently asked question: for how long is it accepted to be on a so called safety round?
Our day began with porridge, pajamas and sleepy eyes in the little mess at 7 am in the morning. The whole watch stood ready on deck one hour later, covered from head to toe in sticky sun screen, some of us well rested after a few hours of good sleep and some of us longing for the comfort of a warm bed. The feeling while standing there is depending on a couple of factors, for example home sickness, tiredness and maybe the most important one: which task you have been assigned for the day. Today was my time to shine, my time to be a safety watch. To do a safety round is equivalent to a boat check, where you every hour walk around the boat to see if something is on fire in the machine room, change drippy towels, stare at the fridge to see if it works and generally being annoying and in the way for people with important jobs to do. So that is exactly what I did, and today was the perfect day to finally understand how long you can be on a safety round without somebody notices that you aren’t with the rest of the watch. So I took my time. I walked slowly over deck, took an extra check at the toilets, annoyed some innocent soul who simply wanted peace and quiet while studying, and took a trip to my cabin for a quick candy break.
After saying goodbye to our watch leader Bea, we faced maybe the biggest challenge: showering. I love my watch with every single bit of my heart, we spend the whole day together and laugh until the point where even the captain tells us to be quiet. But when it comes to showering, it is all about survival of the fittest. The race to the showers begins the second the watch is over, and at that point nothing else really matters. Everybody wants the paint, grease and other unknown dirts away from their bodies, and cost what it will.
After lessons with Brita, enormous amounts of candy, aggressive fighting for showers, dinner, and unwanted sleep at uncomfortable places, the whole watch stood at the same place that we did 12 hours before; but now with a smaller amount of sun screen. Our night watch was filled with singing under the starry sky as our captain played guitar while Bea played harmonica. It is also during the 8-12 watch where you clean the boat, so our night was not only filled with stars and old seaman songs, but also wiping paint, grease and unknown dirts away from suspicious places.
So how long can you be on a safety round before somebody is searching after you? I might not yet know how our captain can come up with a joke in less than a second, or what the meaning of life might be. But I know that the magical number is 35. You can wander around on Gunilla for 35 minutes on a watch during the day without somebody finding it suspicious, and 45 minutes during night.
Felicia Björnquist, starboard