Last port (Pohang, South Korea), I went with a team to stay away from the ship for almost 2 weeks, living with local families, and working with them (doing programmes at schools, church meetings, etc, etc).

During a 2 year stay on Doulos, most people will go out for 3 teams like this. Some, like here, being very civilised, others (say in PNG or parts of North Africa), being much more out-back “jungle teams”. I was staying on my own with a family of four, and every day going to work with my team from 9am until late at night. I really enjoyed living with a family, again. They were so hospitable to me, and looked after me so well, also, they were very relaxed and friendly.
I was introduced to the father like this:

“Daniel, This is Elder Shim. You will be staying at his house.”

So I was a bit worried about how formal I would have to be. We’d been warned that Korean culture is very formal, and that on past visits of the ship, many westerners had caused problems, and had problems, due to the very low-context, low formal nature of the west, and also of the ship.

But I found it totally the opposite. Very easy to get along with, very friendly, very family. The parents sitting on my bed talking (even though I don’t speak Korean, and they don’t speak English!!), and the kids running around, doing a bit of puppetry with them.

It was one of the kids birthday while I was there, here is a photo.

As you can see, a nice cake (for breakfast!) and also much traditional Korean food. My hostess cooked amazing food every breakfast. I was so well fed. Lovely. Kimchi and rice for breakfast,
with rice and soup. Mmmmmmm.

One day she made kim-pap, kind of rolled seaweed paper with rice and crab and carrots and cucumber inside. I’d wondered how it was made. Now I know. They treated us so well, we went out for Korean barbecue 3 or 4 times, had much traditional food. So good. SOOO good! Anyway. A really good time. Really nice people.

Now I’m back on the ship, and have been for a week or two. Usual stressful running around, busy life.

I’ve been waterman for more than a year. Almost 13 months now. Amazing. It’s gone so fast. And I still quite enjoy it. I’m also really tired of it, though. Firstly the long days, and always
thinking ahead and being on-call whenever I’m on board, but also it’s not something I’m especially interested in, water tanks, locks, and all. I’m able to do it, and quite well, I think, and have learned a lot, and enjoyed it a lot. But I really want to change my job.

My first love work wise is still theatre and performance/art. I’ve been working with the videographer on board quite a bit, recently in my spare time, and also helping some with the AV/technical/sound/video people in our on board programmes team. I’ve applied for a couple of different jobs, on board, but at the moment it looks like I’ll probably be staying in the deck department for a while.

I may be changing jobs within the department (maybe going to work on the lifeboats for a bit, do some maintenance there), or something else. The second waterman knows everything now, and it’s time for him to take charge, and have someone for him to teach. Time for me to step down.

I have a kind of dilemma, in that I enjoy the practical work in the deck department, I enjoy many of the people. The chief mates, bosun, and many of my friends. I also know quite well the work, and can do it competently, and seriously. Many of the more experienced people in the
deck department are leaving in September, and many other people want to leave. So Deck needs people who are serious about work, and can work well and enjoy it.

On the second horn, I want to do something more creative. To spend my time making and exploring, which currently I just don’t have time for. I really want to help the ship make quality videos and programmes and present a high standard to visitors and others. We’re using video and multimedia presentations quite a lot, and I can see even more potential in it, and there is a need for creative people who know video and are technical enough.

A lot of the current team dynamics on Deck I find really hard as well right now. Many people not taking the jobs seriously, or getting angry, not caring about the work they do, etc. Many of us still acting like boys, not like men. So many things I find really hard to work and live with, that I’d really be happy to not have to worry about.

I feel as if there is not enough strength of experience and caring about the jobs and the people, so new people join, and when they do, they inherit the old habits and attitudes of the previous people, most of whom are already tired of the work and want to leave.


Do I try to move away from it all and start doing my preferred type of work as soon as I can? Or do I try to stay and be a positive influence, and try and encourage the new people to find interest and joy within their work? Maybe it’s my home-educated mind-set, or maybe grace, or something else, that lets me work with this attitude.

Life is complex, sometimes.





We’ve just arrived in Pohang, South Korea! These last few days have been very hectic for me, and kind of typify my whole life at present:

23:45 – 04:00am sea-watch.
07.30 – 08:30am study groups.
09:00 – 11:45am Korea country orientation. (basic history lessons, culture, language, etc)
11:45 – 16:00pm sea-watch
19:30 – 22:00pm a-team meeting
23:45 – 04:00am sea-watch…

And so on! Quite busy, as you can see. In my “free time” I’ve also been working on the ship’s video edit suite editing 2 video projects. Tomorrow I’m going out with a group of people for ten days to work with a local church.

Here are two photos of me taken in Japan, where we’ve been for the past month:





Greetings, Gentle reader, and welcome to the latest episode of brummie@sea.

Before we get much further, here is a photo of yours truly:

Taken in Fukuoka, Japan. Nice place. Very clean, efficient, tidy, quiet. Kind of reminded me of some of the more sane and modern parts of London (not that there are too many parts which combine both of those adjectives).

We’re now actually in Kanazawa, which is further north.

I’ve been quite busy this port, as the second waterman has been on a team staying and working off the ship for the whole port. I was also learning a lot about the audio-visual stuff on board the ship, how to use Final Cut Pro, sound balancing, and so on. Fun stuff. We had some of the people from our company’s technical/production side out for a week or so, and doing some training for us.

Since then I’ve been working on the ship’s edit suite making a couple of video projects (a Taiwan report video, and a video about the work the ship did in Philippines to show in Korea).. Final Cut Pro is very very nice software.

Especially once you get rid of the silly one button mac mouse, and put a proper 2 button+scrollwheel on the beast.

I’ve also been working quite a lot on just refilling up the ship with water. We had to pretty much replace all our water with Japanese water, due to strange regulations here, and that was all a bit complex.

I stayed up quite late one night running around the ship with the I.T. guys, when they re-built the network system, rebooting and reconnecting the DHCP client sessions on every computer… We now have internet web access on every ship-computer (not personal laptops). That is really cool.

I am probably going to be changing jobs fairly soon, I don’t know where yet. Possibly into I.T and Videographer, or something like that. Maybe working with the Audio-Visual team running the sound and stuff programmes on board. I’ve been working as a waterman for almost a year now. On Doulos that’s a long time. I just looked in our logbook the other day, which I started us keeping. The first entries are from August last year. Amazing.

I applied for the job of Technical Administrator. It would be quite interesting, and a big challenge too. A more technical ship work, and I could learn a lot of administration skills that would be useful in whatever job I end up doing in the future.

Doing all the video and all that these last two weeks, and hanging around with the IT guys a bit, I know that that is where I enjoy working most. I love doing video editing, and IT configuring and installing and all that work is so much more satisfying than water stuff. I miss programming a lot.

I miss linux, actually. Now THAT’s a geeky comment.

But whatever job I end up doing here, it’ll be useful, and also a good change. I’m really tired of the waterman’s job. It’s a great job, you can learn sooo much. And it’s very interesting, very much responsibility, very much independence. More independence than any other job on the ship, probably. Still. It’s time for a change. I’m tired of the midnight phone calls, of thinking about the ship’s water and list and draft 247. Of being “on call” whenever I’m on the ship. Of working alone, truely alone. Even working with the other waterman, I still miss being part of a team. I don’t much enjoy being a leader. I prefer to be a team player. Able to relax with others who know as much or more than I do, and able to pass the ball around, rather than just holding it myself, or watch my partner/assistant run with it the whole time.

Anyway. It’s late. Past 10. I need to sleep. goodnight.




This has been a fun week… most of it. Exciting, and all, anyway. We had a damage control drill, in which the fire attack team had a chance to play with our big emergency submersible pump (big blue thing, about the size of a child and the weight of a man) which had to be carried down to the engine room, and dropped into a tank of water, and then they had the fun of emptying a few tons out of the porthole, and then the rest we transferred into another tank. Great fun for them, very good that they finally get a chance to work with that pump (it’s a monster!). And the tanks, of course, mean work for the watermen! 🙂

We had two tanks which were on schedule for being worked in (we emptied out one of them a month or so ago, and had deck teams in there scraping off the old dead cement, and we last week got the new cement on all the walls.

So we had to open up this empty tank again, and open up the other tank, and get everything ready for that. This meant the usual sitting for a few hours in a bilge/tanktop covered in slime and grease and oil with various sizes of wrenches/spanners getting the manhole open.. This one also created a few more problems though, as some of the nuts were really old and totally seized up.

I had to find out how to get them off. I tried everything I knew how to do (various lubricants, hammers, spanners with extensions, and so on). My next and final option was to grind the thing off. As this is in a bilge, with oil and all about, it’s quite dangerous to do grinding, as you have sparks all over the place. So you need “Hot Work permits” which are paperwork to make sure you follow all safety procedures, have another guy on firewatch while you work, have fire extinguishers ready, etc… The chief mate suggested I try using just a oil burner/torch and heating up the nut around the edges, to try and expand it and so free it up. This would also require Hot Work permits, but would be safer, and also a lot easier, if it worked.

As I was getting ready for this (with the deadline being the drill the day after), the chief engineer suggested just using a “Nut splitter”, a really cool tool I’d never seen before. Basically it’s a chisel with a threaded end, a bolt on the end, and a case to drive it through the nut, as you tighten the bolt. Very cool indeed. So I found this device, and amazingly, it worked! Very nice indeed. I was chatting with the Engine Foreman afterwards, and he suggested a few other ideas involving chisels (and hitting the bolt in the right places to expand the right parts). So I have lots of new stuff learned. Cool. I’ll put it all in the “Waterman’s Bible.”

Have I mentioned the “Waterman’s Bible“?

It’s our source of all knowledge and wisdom, concerning the job. When I joined, it was about 4 pages long, very hastily put togeather, and with confusing notes, and about as comprehensive as “Spot the Dog” is as a guide to the English language.

So myself and the former watermen began to add to it, and since I took over as head waterman, I’ve added diagrams of valves, information about the “Free Surface Effect” and other important things we really need to know, but were always handed on (getting more and more incorrect over time) by word of mouth, or just totally ignored, and other interesting information (such as “Where to find people to hang out with on the ship at 2 in the morning when you’re waiting for the final water truck to arrive” and “Where can I get new hose-clips?” and “Where can I find good coffee?” or even “How can I get these wretched rusted nuts off the manhole-cover!?” for instance.

Currently the “Waterman’s Bible: Nearly Accurate Simplified Version (NASV) April 2007 Edition” is around 50 pages long.

So, back to my week. Three days ago we had to move the ship a few hundred meters down the quayside, so a container ship could come in… the next morning we moved her back again. Then we have have 3 containers of food/books/supplies/chemicals arrive in (including 2 new waterhoses I ordered 3 months ago!).

And most recently, yesterday.

Yesterday was International Night (I-night). Our big festival of songs and dances and dramas from around the world! We’re having two this port, for different audiences, and I am on the “I-night Crew” now, doing the multimedia (videos, cameras, projectors, etc). Yesterday was my first time doing that, always before I’ve been on stage performing. It was so much fun! So good to do theatrey work again. I love the energy and excitement of it. I was sitting on my own with a laptop, projector and camera (and camera person for a while) with a headset on listening to the stage director and back stage crew, and most things went pretty well.

At the beginning of this I-night we had a local Christian band playing, and then we went into 2 movies/video clips, and then the show proper. 5 minutes before the local band started their sound check, the singer came up to me with a USB stick and said “Hey, can you show this powerpoint, it’s the lyrics of our 3 songs, while we sing…”

Yeah, no worries… Except, it’s all in Mandarin! And I don’t really speak any Mandarin at all!

He told me. “OK, these are my hand signals I use with the band, ‘this’ means ‘Chorus’ and ‘this’ means ‘from the top’. We have 3 songs in this powerpoint, the first one is slides 1-3, slide 3 is the chorus…”

Woah! Cool! Bring it on! In the end, we did find one of our translators who could run the lyrics with me, which helped, rather.

After the local band, we had those two video clips. The first one for some reason was not on the laptop (someone else had set up the laptop and files on the ship before the day), and it only arrived 10 minutes before the performance! Still, I had them ready. Then, just as I started the clips, the sound came on, but no video on the projector! This was crazy! I’d just been showing lyrics on them! We’d managed to get a flatscreen monitor from the venue to use as a second monitor display by me, so I could set up the videos on the screen before switching the video-switch to display the computer, and the video was playing fine on my monitor.

So I switched off the video and began checking cables, while the whole audience was sitting there… and I found the projector had switched itself off! So I turned it on again, and reset my videos and got it going again. The whole time (probably only 15-20 seconds at the most, from when the sound came on without visuals to when it started working properly) with the stage director and everyone worried in the headset, and me on my first time with multimedia i-night. It was great! I love theatre.

Everything else went pretty smoothly. It was a long day, we started at 6.30am (after getting to bed around midnight the night before because of the container arrivals, that was a 14 hour work day), and then finished de-briefing after the I-night around half past midnight, and then eating dinner til past 1am, (So about 18 work hours…) Then I was up again this morning at 6.30 to get ready for a study group. I don’t think I’ll work too hard today, except I have my normal work to do, after church, then 2 Irish dance performances later in the afternoon, I need to do my work appraisal with the chief mate, and also a sermon review with the study group coordinator about 5pm…

[Ding Dong, Ding Dong…]

OK, just to add to the fun, the fire alarm just went off. Some kind of electrical fault in one of the wires, they guess. I was at the firestation with the others for about 10 minutes, they couldn’t find anything in the whole zone where the alarm went off, so they’ve isolated the alarm, and check again in an hour.

Yeah. Fun week.




Just a quick photo, me as coxswain of lifeboat 1.




This is Sabbath week, we’re supposed to have rest from most of our work.

Unfortunately there are only two watermen.

I did some maths. The water at this port is REALLY slow to load: like 10 tons an hour. If we use 40 tons a day, then in Sabbath week we must load roughly 300 tons of water, which is 30 hours of loading.

It’s not too hard work, really, as most of the time we can rest while it is loading. But there are also about four hours of sounding to do (over the whole week), plus another five or six hours moving water ready for the voyage, and so on.

It’s quite OK – not too bad, really. If it were a normal port, then no worries. But it’s still roughly 20 hours work each – kind of annoying when we’re supposed to rest. Normally it’s no problem – like last year, there was virtually no work for the watermen, because it was the beginning of a port. So they just loaded the ship totally full – so full she could not sail – and then basically did nothing the whole week.

But we arrived here after a two-hour voyage from the last berth (which still counts as a voyage, so we cannot load above the limit). The water connection only arrived during Sabbath week. It’s a slow connection… AND, we sail right at the end of the week so we have to have all the tanks in order for sailing (some full, some empty, etc).



We slightly overloaded the ship with water last week, because of the sheer relief of a quayside connection again. The ship was totally low in fuel, so we loaded her to the max of water, with little effect on the trim. Ok, huge effect on the trim, on the draft, little effect. All the water tanks are at the back, so we ended up with a 2.5 meter trim then they bunkered fuel 4 days ago, and we haven’t loaded since.

When they loaded the fuel, the ship was below her loadline. Its quite colder weather, so all the doors are acting a bit odd. The c/m told me that he knew we must be light on water, since his door was not shutting as normal. I told him we had enough, but he said “load her up! The ship must be almost flat right now!” So I loaded her up. It was quite fun. My bathroom was almost diagonal, and the toilet outside the engine room was tilted both ways, and very weird to use.

Anyway. we will load another 50 tons or so the day we sail. (Tuesday)

So today, we started work after lunch (its Sunday) and then did basic soundings, made a few keys and I went up to the mates office. I found a really really dirty tarnished old brass ship’s wheel (with wood outer spokes) in the office. The deck secretary told me that the 2nd officer had found it in an antique store, and that it was going to be attached to the bridge of Doulos.

There were Brasso tubs around the floor, and so i asked “surely you weren’t trying to Brasso this?”

And she said no, but some others were trying to no avail. They had also tried toothpaste, and were going to try paint remover. I laughed, and said how silly. I then stole the wheel,

I phoned the store keeper, and he came to the keyshop. I borrowed some de-liming liquid from accomotation, and some wire wool and leather gloves. In half an hour of our work, it was shiny and brassy, so then then we Brasso’d it for another half hour or so, called the mates, and told them to come, and bring some Coke with them. On the way they told me on the phone that Coke has had it’s recepe changed, and probably wouldnt work. I just told him to bring it. They turned up, saw the wheel and were VERY impressed.

Today was a very good day work wise.

I did my PR thing: I told them all, “if you need to know anything, or if you need something difficult done, just ask the Watermen how! they know everything!

They kept chuckling and saying well done boys, and how happy the captain will be and we will (hopefully) get a *real* wheel on Doulos again!

The Coke actually tasted quite nice….




Warning: this post contains a word which may under certain circumstances be considered less than 100% socially acceptable in the context of the readers current culture and/or position. If this is the case, the blog author accepts no responsibility whatsoever.

Dealing with the baggage locker isn’t one of the most complex jobs, but it’s kind of annoying and adds stress to the work: having request forms to do every day, extra responsibility and all. It only takes a few minutes a day, normally(up to half an hour or so) but it’s just another thing to worry about.

Anyway. The firemen don’t have so much work, unless they really want it (ie, go and look for things in a not-ideal state, and then fix them). But they don’t do that (at least, not the current firemen).

So one day, I was carrying boxes up from the locker with the boatswain, who is Dutch, and mentioned to him an idea I’d had. Maybe the firemen should take over the baggage locker… ?

He stopped, put down the box he was holding and stared at me.

“That,” he said, “is a bloody brilliant idea!”

So now the firemen do the baggage locker.

Delegation is so much fun when it works!!!



Yesterday the trucks started coming at 6am, and I was finished by 5pm. Prayer night was the night before, and ended late (11.30pm) so I was really tired. I went to bed last night at 7, and got up at 7 today (even though I only slept about 7 hours, as usual… *sigh*). Tonight is i-night. So I have until lunch time to get ready. I’m in 3 items in this i-night, and it was going to be 4, but I didn’t have time for all those extra practices this week.

The waterman job is so tiring for me at the moment. I enjoy it, it’s interesting and fun, but so tiring, and such long, unpredictable hours. I don’t even know the day before what hours I will be working on the tomorrow. I guess that’s mostly because of the trucks, and once they are done, it may go back to normal again, I dunno.

The new group is settling in well… Even less guys than with ours. The ship is really short of guys! We have more girls in the deck dept, which I quite like, it kind of smoothes off the rougher edges of some of the guys.



The February group of people just joined, like I did last year. Feels very strange. Anyway, the new deck crew have just completed their deck department orientation and basic fire fighting training, so I took the opportunity to steal some of their photos for the purpose of writing a new entry. Applause is not mandatory, as I am too far away from you to hear it anyway. So, without further ado, the photos:

This is the fire-escape ladder from the propellor shaft tunnel in the Engine Room. All of our Fresh water valves are situated in the tunnel, and our workshop is quite near the top of the escape, thus I climb up and down this ladder anything up to 30 or more times a day when very busy (when we have water trucks arriving, for instance). I think this could be one of the only things which keeps me slightly fit on board…

This second photo is incredibly unclear, and shows the new recruits crawling down the main corridor of the ship, in full Breathing Apparatus and fire suits. Fun. As I said, the photo is unclear, and there are much more clear understandable photos available, nevertheless I decided to post this one as I find it almost artistic, it has a certain visual interest, which most of the others don’t. I mean, how interesting can a picture of a bunch of lemon suited unidentifiable personages with compressed air bottles on their backs crawling down a corridor be?

Quote for the day:

For no worldly thing, nor for the love of any man, is any evil to be done (Matt 18:8); but yet for the profit of one who stands in need, a good work is sometimes without any scruple to be left undone, or rather changed for a better. For by doing this, a good work is not lost, but changed into a better.

– Thomas à Kempis “The Imitation of Christ” Ch. 15