the italian job


fly alitalia, never again!

between rome and genoa they managed to loose my bag. when i got to the lost baggage section there were about 25 other people in front of me. took me an hour to register.

that left me with one other problem, i flew in on the last flight of the day. after an hour, all the taxi’s had left. i asked the man who was closing up his rental car office if he could please call me a cab, he simply said no, just wait outside one will come. i kind of thought that wouldnt be true as the airport was now closed for the night.

as i started to walk, pondering my next adventure, a walk through downtown genoa in the early hours of saturday morning, i saw a hotel in the airport complex. the concierge was a nice man, he offered without hesitation to call me a cab and within 5 minutes i was on my way.

glad i did it too, the cab ride was a long one and through some of the red light districts in genoa.

saturday gave me time to sleep in a little, check out the two main engines and generators and then take the boat for a sea trial. Sairah the out going captain was in charge, with the new captain, Vladymir the russian and another captain Charlie from Antibes. so many captains meant that they would cover all of the watches between themselves and left me to cover the engine room. the only watch i have to do was between 6 and 7pm while sairah is cooking.

the sea trial went well and we decided to leave at midday on sunday, on schedule.

the airport called me to say my bag was in so i jumped in another cab and got to the airport. to my horror, when i got there, another 20 or so people were in the lost luggage queue, reporting missing bags. i also understood enough to hear one of the airport staff telling them there was an automatic machine in the arrivals area for reporting lost bags. kind of makes you wonder if they do this with every flight into the place?

Sunday at noon, we left as planned. my watches started hourly for the first few hours, then i added on an extra half hour and by midnight, all was well and we were up to every two hours. so i could grab maybe an hour and a half sleep between each inspection.

finally at 4 am on monday morning, captain sairah took one on for me and that meant i could sleep until 9.30. i also got another three and a half hours in the afternoon when captain charlie agreed to take one on but for the rest of the evening i would be sleeping in the crew mess. rotating inspections with the watches of the other captains, i could still get three and a half hours sleep in between. as the captains changed their watch , they would each pick up one engine room inspection for me. thats how it was planned but in reality, i still covered most of them.

06.30 0n tuesday morning i popped on deck to see my first ever volcano. when i first saw it, i thought the steam coming from the top was just cloud formation but as we passed along side it, you could easily see the steam rising from within the crater. my first ever real life volcano!! i got some good pictures of it too, take a look.

later that day, in the straights of messina, we anchored for a couple of hours, put on some diving gear and headed under the boat to clean up the props and shafts. Captain sairah had said we were using 20% more fuel than normal and she thought that might be the answer. i zapped the water with my lazer thermometer, the water was a cool 23.8 degrees, and was blissful to swim in, the current though, was a little dodgy. i think without fins on my feet, i would have gone backwards and not forwards. it wasnt a job i had ever considered doing but hell, getting paid to go for a swim, has to be worth a look.

wierd really, because suddenly it was thursday and i had a generator overheat. nasty one too but managed to get it fixed up within an hour and a half and running again. always a bit of a panic when something goes wrong, your first thoughts are, can i fix it or will i look like a complete muppet? always worse when you dont know your way around a boat, if i can’t fix it, can we work around it and what about if we loose the second gen set?

and then as if by magic, the shop keeper didn’t appear but instead, friday morning came sweeping in. 01.30 and i was awake before my alarm and in the shower, breakfast and then into the ER to do my thing. (thats Engine Room, not emerency room). Everything was looking peachy. within 15 hours we should be moored in turkey.

all in all, been a very quiet trip. i have only had two alarms, they were both for the autopilot off course, and after the second mad scramble to check everything out, we decided to pull the relay out and disconnect the damn thing. i tell you, it is a bit of a rush when you are woken from you sleep by a sound similar to the wail of a dying banshee all over the boat as the general alarm goes off. you quickly wake up thinking ‘oh fuck’ but instantly instinct kicks in. into the ER, check the alarm panel, quick check around the ER before heading to the bridge to check the full alarm panel and seeing exactly where the problem lies. After that, its plain sailing, if you will excuse the punn. and if you are quick enough, you can do all of that before you are fully awake so that falling asleep again is a piece of cake.

Its also a blessing to work in an engine room that i can fully stand up in, and this one is exactly that, three levels, 2 main engines ( both V12 twin turbo diesels, 27 litres each) three generators, a 50,000 litre fuel tank ( yes fifty thousand, that would cost most of us a years wage to fill for two weeks) a good selection of house tools, and an air conditioning system that doesnt break down. the greek islands are always amazing to sail around, the stars much brighter at night without light polution, the seas always the richest blue

At least on this stink pot i have had the majority of uninterrupted sleep, not like my last boat that religously woke me between 1 and 3 am every morning but on the stink pot – nada.

finally at 06.30 this morning, dolphins! i have never been to sea without seeing dolphins so was getting a little worried this time until, i saw the fins playing in the water in front of us. i walked to the bow and hung off the front to watch three huge dolphins playing around the bulbous bow on the front of the boat. i am convinced these boys are as curious about humans as we are them. when they see me, they do two things, roll on their side so that they can see me better and jump out of the water to get air. i tried to tell them to stay there while i went to get my camera but i dont speak turk dolphin, only spanish, portuguese and italian dolphin so they had left by the time i got back. they were three of the biggest i have ever seen. seeing dolphins always makes me feel good inside, a good omen for the sea.

so this adventure will end at around 7pm this evening and at 6am tomorrow, i start my journey home 

Have a moan - the beers are on me !!

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