Traveling with Statsraaden to Shetland
Two “bøyevakter” keeping an eye on the sea. One shift is an hour. Two shifts a day. Time to let your mind wander. Although not too much, you are keeping an eye out for fallen crew members basking in the waves.
Another thing you can be asked to do is help with sails. This can be done on deck by help pulling and giving ropes, or help loosen rope for sails or help pack them. Since my brain wasn’t wired to my mouth at the time, I heard myself saying “yes” when asked if I wanted to enter the rigging to help out. Looking very hardy on the picture above is partly lie, I moved with the pace of a sloth to be sure I put hands and feet right. Felt pretty hardy when I came down again though, like HELLO LOOK AT ME I DID A THING.
Another task is to square the decks. This is done from time to time after a manouver, and is quite a nice job if you are interested in rope work or just like to make things neat. The ropes behave in different ways, and you learn to work with fiber and twist directions, how to hang squared rope, and to make things look good and proper. The rope decoration with the 8’s is a really good example of how fibre and twist direction make shapes appear easily.
Squared rope. Quite possibly a “skjøte” but who knows.
All this is of course voluntarily, but it’s quite silly avoiding tasks, because you learn things you never thought of. Like spotting idiots in the harbour. People that square rope around the elbow to the hand. Then you stretch and work against the fibres, and will forever be marked as a noob.
Trying to learn the names of all the different things that will hit you on the head if not secured properly.
You also learn that rope is never “rope” either. It’s a “skjøte”, “gording”, or marked with whatever function it has for a manouver. Even a loose piece of rope isn’t a rope. It’s a “seising”. But once attached to something it’s a “sy-tau”. Did I remember the difference when suddenly yelled at from the mast to loosen (intricate name for rope)? No. I panicked and grabbed hold of something marine blue passing and said someone was trying to reach them from the sails above.
These braids; “Stoppetau”.
Helped fasten “sy-tau” to hold benches on deck.
Me first time at helm, too busy reading brass R2-D2 to look at photographer.
For my last helm watch (night watch), I finally managed to relax a little, and not just stare at the compass. In the middle of the North Sea, with rolling waves, and starry skies. Yup. Pretty good feeling.
My friend Kristin learning from our shift leader Jens how to use a sextant: “Don’t be sad if you don’t manage to bring down the sun.” :D
Reading of almanacks for use with sextant.
All shifts onboard had different shift leaders, and they are interested in different things, as you would be. Some had a more shanty enthusiastic members, some had more technical approaches, some focused on social things, and some had short classes based on what we said we were interested to know. Key is to ask and take initiative. We were interested in naming of ropes and their different functions, and several member of our group wanted to learn knots, and how to use a sextant. We also had a short class about ship types and etymologi behind the different types of sail.
Sleeping quarters below deck
Sleeping! Another thing which was a mystery to mee before we set out the first time.
Now; Spider Man skills to get into hammock. No, kidding, it actually wasn’t that hard.
Since I’ve traveled with Statsraaden before, what people are most curious about is how you get in and out of a hammock in a gale. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve only been in a small gale, but the hammock thing isn’t hard. You hold on to hooks in the ceiling and ungraciously lift yourself up and wiggle into your sleeping bag. Too short to reach hooks, and there are benches to climb onto as well.
What is hard, is adjustning the knots on the hammock to fit. I had no reference on how this kind of hammock should feel like, so I slept two nights like a claustrophoblic banana, until the cogwheels in my brain decided it was time to tighten some of the middle knots and make it feel less like a cocoon. Nice and cosy after that. Falling out of it; I don’t know how you would make that happen actually. It’s not like those beach hammocks that lie flat. These ones enclose you, and will merge you with anything else brought with you into the hammock.
Passed out with book, woke up with book wedged in hoodie.
The knots by the way facinated me immensely. Just one turn and then tucked into the rope itself, and the weight of you sleeping there makes the knot tighter. Smooooth.
While speaking of knots:
Life hack; teach yourself the square knot. Or mocking will ensue. It’s also very useful.
Tying up your hammock with a square knot is more than just a knot-thing, it has a purpose. Is your hammock properly tied up, it’s impossible that someone could be laying there. And for an offiser looking for a stranded watch member, it will be quick and easy to state of someone is still asleep. Which someone very well might be, since getting up at midnight for your night watch is not something one is used to.
Yeah. I had a helm watch onboard accompanied by this sunrise. To anyone contemplating a trip with Statsraaden, the night watches can be quite magical. Specially when you’re not seasick, but that experience just makes you appreciate the non-seasick moments more.
The Eye of Sauron.
Hair brought to you by a night in the North Sea’s own salon; “The Small Gale”.
Speaking of small gales, here is a picture from dinner time after the seas had calmed a little.
Queens Hotel, Shetland
“The Floor is Lava”
Staying and working together on a ship, you also need time off to yourself. At least I do. I walked around a bit coming ashore in Lerwick, found a bit of undisturbed rock, and flipped trough a book I bought on the way. Depicted is a scanned hand colored pattern chart for fair isle knitting, something for the color nerd in me. I loved that they had not edited out old bits of tape and comments written on the work sheets throughout the book.
Enjoying a morning coffee on deck in Lerwick sporting some Fair Isle Knit.
Squeezed in some sketchbook moments, being onboard is quite busy. In a good way:)
Some seconds of seriously smooth skies when leaving Shetland
Then some grey skies set in, and after a while, completely engulfed in fog.
No wonder myths like “The Flying Duchman” appears. Anything could be hiding in that mist.