It’s a Hard LIfe On Board – by Ian Prickett
The great white continent is in sight and my routine is about to be shaken off.
We have endured two punishing weeks at sea on board our expedition ship the SA Agulhas. Having sailed a few times now through these seas, I was looking forward to having a good old rough and tumble with the best that the Southern Ocean could throw at us. In reality I have had rougher crossings in my kayak paddling through Portsmouth Harbour. In the summer. With cross channel ferries chasing me down.
Hopefully this is a good omen and sign of things to come for the rest of the trip and that ‘ol mother nature is going to be kind to us. Only minus 60 with 40 knot winds would suffice!
Daily life on board for me consists of routines. Getting into a routine while sailing helps pass the day when there is nothing more to do other than wander the halls of the ship. So here is mine:
Wake up. Always a good start. Far too many people didn’t even manage to get out of their beds for the first few days due to feeling a bit rough. One of our Cat mechanics – I won’t tell you which one but he’s not from Canada – wasn’t even seen for the first week and had switched himself into some kind of crisp-munching nightwalker mode.
Have breakfast. It’s far too easy when you’re not actually expelling any energy to eat your body weight in good food while on a cruise. I’m calling it bulking out for the trip ahead. Others just call me Fat Boy.
Emails. We are exceedingly lucky to have an Iridium-sponsored satellite system on board to receive emails, send messages and think of great blogs for the webpage. Unfortunately, when the whole expedition group tries to use it at the same time sending one email can seriously take until lunch time.
Eat lunch. The meals on board have been nothing short of amazing with fresh fruit, salads, fish, steak, desserts, cheese and crackers and finished off with copious amounts of, my personal favourite and Africa’s finest, Mrs Balls Chutney. Google it. It will change your eating experience. Basically, we’ve been eating all of the foods which we will be doing without for the rest of the trip, which means I need to eat more of it now. Again, bulking up!
Circuit Training. Due to my now huge belly and a group of willing volunteers, I have been beasting people with daily circuit training sessions in the hanger to try and make me feel a little less guilty for eating that last pancake.
It has given me great pleasure to be able to shout to tow of the adventuring world’s finest, Ran Fiennes and Dr Mike Stroud, that they aren’t trying hard enough and they need to do a proper push up! It’s great to see everyone after a session complaining about how this aches and that hurts yet they still come back every day for more of the same. Must be those dolphins (endorphins) that they keep talking about.
5.30pm and it’s G and T’s in the officers mess to talk about the day’s news and events: “did you see that speckled, weird flying, upside down winged thing earlier?” If you don’t have a picture of it, the whale sighting doesn’t count.
Dinner. I’m allowed to eat all three courses due to an hour’s circuits earlier. Bulking up.
Internet. A few hours of receiving and sending emails then it’s time for a nice cup of builders’ tea and retire to the bedroom ready to chill out and do much of the same the next day.
That is basically life on board for me. Everybody’s routines differ and as we have started to edge closer to the ice shelf these routines have been interspersed with meetings, briefings, training and more meetings. The exciting stuff is yet to come and by Sunday, sea ice allowing, we should be alongside and looking at unloading the first of our cargo. That’s when it starts to get really interesting.
Weather outside the cabin window as I write this: slightly cloudy with a little chill in the air. Weather filling up my Facebook account back in the UK: carnage, two-inches of snow and a country ground to a halt. That can’t be right, surely?
Attached picture, should I have another cup of tea, or maybe coffee? Hard choices ahead.