Today has been pretty good. Sunday service music practice at 7am. I went early, to warm up, then we practiced until 8:20, service started at 8:30, so about 5 minutes for breakfast. Then after the service cleaning duty, so went outside to start cleaning. Barely started when an absolute torrent of rain started. So we ran around lashing down all the canvasses, lowering the engine room hatch, etc. Got totally soaked. Totally!

Ship seems SO clean now. It’s lovely. Everyone said “God is on cleaning duty today!”

Yesterday was i-night, at an outside quasi-amphitheatre venue, a 4000 seater. We packed it!!!!! We were praying for no rain on Saturday for the last 3 weeks or so. So it was really great getting soaked today, and thinking, “This rain might have come yesterday, and ruined all our equipment, and wrecked the whole night, but God made it rain today!” so we didn’t mind getting wet at all.

Then after lunch I did the rubbish, had a 10 minute rehearsal for a drama, finished the rubbish, had a shower, went and performed the drama, played guitar for a few minutess, got some props from creative ministires, practised with 4 others for a drama tomorrow. Then I got ready for gangway relief, went and did relief for half an hour while the watchman (watchwoman) went for dinner. Then I put the lights on on the ship, lowered the flag, ate dinner myself, then came back to clean up my bunk a bit. It was covered in random stuff from i-night and all.

I was in two acts in the i-night. Scottish dance, and then TWO minutes later, the “parade of nations” as Cyprus, so very rushed to change. I wear the closest I can find to Cyprus costume: black trousers, white shirt, and a black “Spanish” waistcoat from the costume locker. Looks kind of silly to me, but (a) no one in the audience knows any better (b) if it really looked stupid, they wouldn’t keep assigning me to parade of nations © most of the costumes look a bit “made up” or fake, so yeah.

Oh, and i’ve got jazz dance practice in 15 minutes.



I’m working on a puppets script at the moment, for tonight’s practice. We brainstormed it last week. Someone else wrote the first draft, and I should have sent it back to them before. But now I have fixed many things, and re-written a few scenes, so I hope it is OK.

I will be BUSY tonight.

6.28: drama performance
6.30: Scottish dance practice (I’ll be late though)
7.00: puppets practice
9.00: jazz dance practice
10.00: clarinet practice in foc’s’cle
11.00: sleep

The drama will probably actually be nearer 6.40. I still don’t know if I’m definitely in the official drama team! One of the other drama team people who is in this drama tonight (which I already knew, and so taught them) told me he thought I was. But who knows? I’m waiting for them to tell me.

Funny thing is, in deck work I am totally NOT busy. There is far too little work for us all to do at the moment. So we’re doing silly things, and spending as much time as we can on them. Like cleaning the aft mooring station. Totally pointless, as in three days time it will be filthy again from the coal dust, and takes just as long to clean now as it will in three days, whether or not we clean it now.

We also spent about half an hour re-whipping a rope for the canvas cover for one of the bridge compasses, and then stood down two hours early.

But that’s good for me, it means I can finish this script now!



Fare from the firefighting. Fair food for free! Fantastic…


I’m finished watch, but feeling kinda sick/queasy, possibly bad fruit. I did eat four apples just before watch in one go; the fruit had probably been sitting in the backstage of the theatre getting hot and stuff all day. Not serious.


Visak port is even dirtier than the last one but it’s rained twice! Lovely. Huge massive torrents of it, with thunderstorms like in Colorado. Lightning hit one of the port floodlight towers, and so the port lost lighting for about 6 hours.

Then we got a page from the book exhibition, “Attention ship’s company, we are in need of volunteers to come to the book-ex deck to help save the books.”

So of course loads of us charged up there. Water was coming in all the sides, as it wasn’t prepared for 45 degree torrents. All the cash desks got soaked too. So I was running around tying canvases down all over stuff. Because it was a sort of i-night last night, most of the ship’s company were off-ship, so only about 40 people were on board. A lot of books got a bit wet, but not wrecked.

I spoke to the bosun about the lifeboatman job. He says he wants whoever does it to start working as soon as possible so they learn the job really well before September, when the current guy leaves. When I spoke to one of the firemen, he said that with the lifeboatman and fireman jobs, you can basically work what hours you want to, as long as you get jobs done. So it would be very cool.

Lifeboatman does maintenance of all lifeboats, emergency equipment and so on, also repair of all canvases on board, and nets, ladders etc. They can get as many deckies as they need when they want them. But if just checking rations and water supplies, no others are needed. If I did this, I’d be able to do more dramas and programmes easily, and sleep more at night! Also because I’d be working on my own frequently, I’d be happier socialising during off-time.

It sounds ideal, but then again, the grass is always greener and all that. Heading for almost 4 months on the ship, almost the whole of my preship is a bit fed up with their jobs and want to move/change etc, which is expected. In about 2 months’ time, most will probably be happy again.

I don’t know if I will do it; they must have this week’s team leaders meeting first and see what happens. They will probably decide then, but who knows? Some things happen on board so fast and other things take forever! I still haven’t been told definitely that I’m in the drama team…




Here is a poster they showed us in our fire-fighting “training”. I’m quite glad we didn’t have to actually put one of these on…





Last week has been kind of slow/busy/confused etc. One of the creative ministries people is on an away-team, we had an i-night, I went on an overnight, and am on watch this week (12 till 4), and so on. Also I learned a new mime/dance and performed it the next day. Tomorrow we sail to the next port.

The overnight went well, it was a very good experience. I’m so glad to have gone on an overnight in India. Some of it was not such fun, but very good to have experienced it. Hole-in-the-ground type toilets without toilet paper, for instance…

The book-ex has closed for this port. We were going to be open today, and pack down tomorrow, but today is election day so the local people (port authorities) told us it wasn’t a good idea to be open. So we closed today and are doing major clean/pack down. A major, major clean. This is a coal port, so there is black dust caked onto EVERYthing. Horrible. Apparently the next port is even worse…

One of the team leaders asked me yesterday if I would consider the job of lifeboat man!! More flexible hours, I’d be pretty much my own boss, as long as I got the jobs done, no gangway watch or firerounds and so on! I’d have to look after the lifeboats, clean them, make sure all ropes/equipment are correct and good, learning more about how they work, and helping to direct during drills and when using them etc. It should mean I could have more flexible hours as I’d be working on my own most of the time and so I could work around performances/practices with drama and stuff. But I’d still be a deckie, which would also be good. And, I’d get a special letter/chitty/thingy from captain and mates, which would (apparently) pretty much get me a job on any ship anywhere!



“I’m on a church team tomorrow,” said I.

“Cool. Who’s your team leader?” said he.

“I am.”

“My goodness? What is the teams co-ordinator smoking to make you team leader?”

… or so (approximately) went a conversation on Saturday.

Yeah. I was a team leader. So, what does that mean? well, basically, a church asked for a team of us to go do a short programme/presentation in their service today, and my job was to find out (a) what they actually wanted, (b) what we would do, and (c) how we would do it. Another question was also (d), who “we” are.

I was told that I was a team leader on Wednesday.

I thought it was Thursday, at the time. So I went to the board, and make a notice that my team should meet on Saturday evening, in the dining room. 6.20pm. Why this time? Well, the sheet of paper they had given me told me we would be collected from the port gate at 6.20am, the next morning. And I thought it kind of appropriate.

I phoned the pastor as well, and found out what he wanted (songs, drama, mime, a couple of testimonies, and a short presentation about the ship. nothing too challenging).



18:20 – I was in the dining room. Waiting for 2 fairly experienced Douloids (both had been on the ship longer than I have), and 2 STEPpers.

18:30 – I phoned the info desk to ask if it was allowed for me to make a page for them to come. They told me no, only on the actual day itself could I page.

OK. No problem. I’ll just wait then.

6:35 – one of them turned up! Whoo! One of the experienced Douloids. We chat for a bit about what kind of things we should do. I’d been given one good idea earlier by someone else. As the STEPpers probably don’t know any dramas, and probably don’t know how to give a good (ie, short) testimony, I could ask them to sing a song in their own languages. Most westerners are horrified at the thought of being asked to sing solo in front of a church, but many Indians don’t seem to be. Also, although some don’t sing so well, most seem to sing very well indeed.

7:00 – I ask info, and apparently one of the STEPpers is actually out today, with some other team, and hasn’t returned yet!

7:30 – no one else decided to turn up. oh well. the both of us leave. I have some work to do, I need to stick some adhesive sandpaper-type tape to the steps to Hold 3, so they are safe to walk up without slipping over. The trouble is that the self adhesive isn’t strong enough to hold it in place, and the contact glue I have to use should really be left overnight to dry, that’s why I am doing it tonight.

8:00 – My K-group (fellowship/family group) “parents” are leaving, and it’s now time to say goodbye, so pretty much the whole of the people who joined the ship at the same time as us are there. Quite sad.

9:00 – I get dressed in work clothes to go do that work. On my way, I pop by the book-exhibition up on deck, as one of the cabin mates of the other STEPper (not the one already away from the ship) told me that he should be working there. I found him! I told him we’re meeting at the info desk at 6am, and he says he can sing. Jolly good.

9:45 – While working on the steps down to hold 3, Andy (from the previous pre-ship group to mine) brings the other STEPper down to see me! I ask her if she can sing, she says yes, and although she doesn’t like the idea of a 6am start, thats OK.

10:00 – Finished. Bedtime.


6:10 – At info. We’re all there! Wow. Pray, discuss briefly what we will do, and head for the port gate.

6:25 – We’re in the bus heading for the church!

8:00 – Service finished already. Didn’t really go as planned at all. Very short simple baptist style service, which I enjoyed. Old hymns and everything. Not 200 people, as my paper said, but more like 30 or 40. The CD played didn’t work properly, which disrupted us a bit, as a mime/dance kind of relied on it. But! One of the STEPpers sang very well, and the other one… could be professional! Lovely voice. Amazing. So, yeah, it all kind of worked.

10:20 – The pastor took us out for an indian breakfast (lovely), and we’re now in a taxi on the way back to the ship. Wow…

11:20 – I find my “little brother” port volunteer, and gave him a tour of the ship (I’d been on watch when he joined, and kept missing him, so he hadn’t yet had a proper tour! Not so good of me. But he liked the tour.).

And that was it!

It all went well. Afterwards in the team “de-brief” in the mess, while filling out the form about how it went, one of the experienced Douloid team members took the form and in the extra comments she wrote how she liked my leading style, as I was so relaxed, and asked peoples
opinions rather than being a dictator, and how unusual I was. *blink* hm. Thanks!

But maybe that means I’ll have to lead many teams in the future! Oh stress!

So, yeah.

Doulos life is still pretty hectic.

We’ve been having many inspections and stuff this port, so yesterday I was helping to clean up the lifeboatman’s office, and in the back, we found an old guitar (without strings), which belonged to one of the lifeboatmen of ages past, and the current one didn’t want the guitar, and so said I could have it! Wow! So I now have my own guitar! Today hopefully I can go and buy some strings. I’d just been talking with God a few days ago about not being able to practice guitar so much, so yeah! Doesn’t often happen like this, but a nice present. It’s even a classical guitar! Whoo!



A new picture! OK, so now all the bloglines people will actually visit my blog. that’s cool.

So… meself in a kilt, after Scottish dancing in the international night programme last week.



I’ve been asked to consider if I want to join the drama team or not. One of the guys left, went home. He decided to leave about 3 weeks before he left, and had been discussing it with personnel for some time. Id still have to do deckie job full-time and then drama team a few evenings a week, during free time.

In deck department, apparently in a few months some of the carpenters are leaving, and if no professional carpenters join, they may be looking for normal deckies to start learning that job. The carpenter’s job does have slightly better hours… basically normal deckie, but no firerounds or gangway watch! Yes, it would be hard, giving up firerounds. It’s so fun getting my sleep pattern all messed up, feeling depressed and never knowing what time it is, waking up terrified that I’ve missed the watch, and wanting to go home, but I think I could handle the disappointment of not
experiencing it.

If I try really hard.

One of the other deckies told me he thought it would be my kind of thing, as I like doing stuff with my hands, and am quite perfectionistic, and so on. I’d love to learn more proper carpentry.

We’ve been doing fire-fighting training this week. Went to the Chennai technical college of maritime, for 3 full days of lectures, plus one practical day, and one other day when the time was kind of confused. We’ve been hearing loads on board about the training course the previous preship went to in Sri Lanka, I think, and how it was fantastic, real loads of training, having to crawl through cargo containers set on fire, put out loads of types of fires, and so on.

We didn’t learn ANYTHING in the lectures, nothing we didn’t have in preship. We didn’t even touch a fire extinguisher, or see a match get struck. But we get a certificate, just the same as the other people!

About the malaria tablets… they seem to perhaps be causing restlessness and sleeplessness, in varying degrees and forms. But many many people on board are finding it hard to sleep at night, just lying awake wanting to walk around or get up and type, or work out, or whatever. Particularly on Sundays, when we have to take the weekly extra pills. But we’re not really tired in the day. Everyone is so hot and sweating so much anyway. We take 2 tablets daily, and another 2 extra on Sundays. so many and we must all take salt tablets as well, as we sweat so much.



We’re going out this evening to eat (our k-group) as the k-group parents are leaving this week, for good. They only joined the ship for 3 months. K-group is sort of family or fellowship group, all from our preship. There is one set of “parents”, one of the married couples on the ship, so each kgroup has one married couple as parents. Ours are from our preship (which is the ideal), but many are not, but ours leave this week.

One of the older couples on the ship are on furlough right now, but come back in a week or so, and they will be the new parents for our group. They were also at the preship training. Each week we have a time together, for an hour or so, and generally it’s in the parents’ cabin, so they host it, generally provide drinks and buscuits, and so on. Also they make sure we’re all ok, and not hating our jobs too much, or whatever.

Food here is very cheap. Like a whole meal for one person can be 4 dollars. For good meal, that is.
Fast food can be a dollar, or less. Mostly veggie. Many places have “veg”, and “non-veg” on the back page.

I was so tired this week. My last off-day was right after watch, and we went out for the whole day,
so I’m just having a quiet day today. I read in the morning, had long lunch, chatting, and some music practice, perhaps clean up my cabin a bit, maybe start scripting a new film project or something this afternoon.