Actually I planned to be in Jordans capital Amman right now, helping out in a hostel. But instead of the pulsing live and heat of this Middle Eastern I chose to be in a quiet little town in at the Nothern Sea in the Netherlands. It has been raining for the whole day now and doubt this will change today. Temperature is between 10 and 15°C. I sit in something like a kitchen / livingroom. I somehow always end up un places like this. My room in Regensburg was living room and kitchen, in Taybeh and Ramot I mostly stayed in the kitchen-livingroom and it was the same in Tel Aviv. But this is slightly different. The walls are made of Metal, the whole thing moves and there is a window in the ceiling called Koekoek. I am on a ship and this place is called roef.
Last summer I met Caro in Regensburg. She had worked for six seasons as a matrose and later as a skipper in the Netherlands. She I was fascinated by the idea and put experiencing this world on my “to Do before I die”-list. Due to all the cancer stuff I was not fit to go there last summer. But I wanted to spend summer 2016 with that job. But somehow my ex-girlfriend came into my live again, everything went chaotic, as always when she pops up, and I ended up in the Middle East. And if my ex-partner would not had become so incredibly jealous on Caro, I would probably still be in Regensburg with her. Life gives really strange directions sometimes.
Luckily riding the bike alongside the shore of Tel Aviv, almost everyday passing the harbour, with all its sailing boats, cleared my mind and brought me back to my senses. Going to the Middle east was a stress reaction. My ex-partner had brought quite a horror to my peaceful live by moving to Regensburg and had told me to leave the city. Of course I could have stayed, but with that much anger and pain in me, it is better to stay away. There are so many things out there to explore anyway.
So here I am, on a sailing boat in the Netherlands, working as matrose (sailor). Getting this job was surprisingly easy. I wrote some formless applications and literally 5 minutes later I got an email, followed by a job interview. The Interview was only about when I can start to work. So I landed on May 2nd, went to the Netherlands on May 3rd, failed with al the Paperwork on May 4th and started to work on May 5th.
Doing this job is not so easy, but plenty of fun. Here is the formula:
Ship + Skipper + Matrose + Charter Guests = Fun
One hundret years ago the ships used to be sailing frighters, made of metal, run by a family. Now they have cabins instead of storage and giving people a nice holiday sailing on the Waddensee or the IJslemeer. The skipper is steering the ship and giving all the instructions how to sail the ship. The matrose is helping the skipper, telling the guests what to do, and doing al the dangerous or tricky stuff. While the skipper has to stay at the steering wheel, the matrose works al over the ship.
Both, skipper and matrose live on the ship. The skipper area is the roef. Its at the back of the ship, next to the engine room and the steering wheel. It is usually something like a livingroom-kitchen with a toilet and shower. There is a small place downstairs to sleep.
The matrose lives on the other end of the ship in the voorunder. Through a hatch and down a latter is a small space, just big enough for sleeping place, some tiny storage and usually a toilet. The hatches are heavy and famous for their finger chopping. If I open a square meter sized door I have access to the anchor chains and their storage. First I found it a bit creepy, but now I am used to it. I also have the luxury of a heater and a separate toilet. The ceiling is low and there is just one possibility to stand for having enough space for playing the viola. At any other positions the bow either hits the ceiling or the hight bed.
The guests stay under the middle deck. There is a huge kitchen / living room and tiny cabins with a sink and two stacked beds each, three showers, two toilets, giving space for up to 28 people.
The guest usually stay either from Sunday/Monday till Friday or from Friday till Sunday. They are often school classes, but also employees, clubs or just friends.
Sometimes the ships are owend by the skipper, but in my case the ship is owend by another guy. He has two ships, both stationed in Harlingen. The guests are “delivered” by a Rederei.