The adventures of the beginning – partwise written on Mai 23rd
The first two days the matrose of the owner’s other ship came with us to give me the basic instructions. I did not understand much. There were plenty of new words like “backstaak” or “underleikstrekker” and “schoot” (sheet) and this rope and that rope and first this and then that and here and there and… puh. Also it was hard for me to understand his German. Still, it was very helpful. One important thing he told me was: “You are not sailing the ship, you are sailing the people.”
Then he left and there I was, alone with my skipper and a handful, luckily experienced guys. Most of them knew how to fold sails, how to pull ropes and how to do the manoeuvres. My skipper explained to me what to do. First I did not understand anything. When he said “pull the fokkenschoot”, or “relax the marie”, I had no clue. So he draw me a picture and filled it with names. I learned it like vocabulary and the understanding got better. It was also helpful that the skippers wife came along for one week. She never did my job, but she went sailing on this kind of ships for years. So she could explain allot to me.
Of course plenty of things went wrong. I was not able to bring down the grootzeil, the biggest Sail, two times because I had trouble with the winch. Both times the skipper had to leave the steering wheel to come to help and he was really stressed. We lost a bufferball to wind and waves because I forgot to tie it. Two times the docking manoeuvre went wrong. First we ran into the owners other ship, the second time into the pier. Both times at almost 90°. The second time killed another bufferball. We also ran over a tree. Yes, there are trees in the water. They are markings for shell farmers.
In summary the first month was packed with adrenaline peaks. And of course I was stressed not to fail. Not only with my duties as a matrose, but mostly with not challenging the patients of the skipper too much. For example I justify too much why I did what I did. I do this because I want to show, that I am not a complete mess up. But it gives people the wrong impression and actually I think I should not need to show that.
I also felt my patience challenged when, for example, the skipper would not give me a proper answer or just ignore my question. A few years ago this would have troubled me, puzzling what I had done to provoke such a treatment, over criticising me. Or did the person just not hear me? What to do? Now I can stand this uncertainty and just take a deep patient breath, knowing that getting no answer is nothing I should take personally. Sometimes the skipper surprised me with a respond hours or days later. So in the end I was just happy with my skills. I was also happy that my skipper did not show the two characteristics that would probably make me leave. Both were said to be normal, but some people, especially the matroses had a problem with them.
Another interesting thing to watch are the guests, especially the school classes with their teachers. There is so much difference! Its a nice challenge for me how to deal with all these different characters and dynamics and to watch how all of this infects me.
This enterprise turns out to be a double adventure. An inner and an outer one. I know what I am doing here, but I do not know if it is not too much for me. Going running became a regular habit and I feel stressed too often. I am also not sure yet if I like it in general or not. But that is not a question now, is it?