Archive for the ‘Transatlantic voyage’ Category

DAY 6.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010


I had a nice long discussion with the chief engineer this morning. He told me about changes in the ship owning as well as about the whale protection program. The whales get disturbed by the sound of the vessel engine and this is why the ship needs to go very slowly in certain areas. We discuss about world politics. Chief engineers daughter studies public relations. He thinks that European Union is not a good thing at all. For example Romania has been asked to cut down expenses even though there really is nothing to cut from. Romania and other former Soviet counties are accepted to EU only because they provide cheap labour force to the rich countries. EU is trying to swipe problems under the mattress. France gives Romanians 300 euros and send them back to Romania. Then, the Roman camps are destroyed and people can’t get back to France.

The chief engineer thinks that EU can’t work because it is designed only for the rich countries and to reach their aims (challenge against US and Russia as well as the economical world). This is probably true. That’s how the world works everywhere. European Union was supposed to be a rich federation, but it is a challenge to put together so many different cultures and countries. It would be wonderful if it worked. If you compare EU to United States, the starting point is already different. US is somewhat homogeneous even though it is a big country with many cultures.

It is hard to discuss politics and not to end up with same theme. This is money and natural resources. Who has the most of them or ability to go around the world to look for them? Normally, they are called crusades for democracy but I think they are just crusades. We get to a personal level with our discussion with the chief engineer quite rapidly: how we are the slaves of consumerism and because of that slaves in our works, too. As many before us have said (like for example Henry Miller and emeritus professor Serge Latouche): we are slaves who have been made to believe that we are free. I understand that there is a lot of development in the world. We can heal illnesses, people are healthier, women and minorities have some human rights already. But still, we can’t be happy in our slavery. I know personally that I can live in our little village almost without money. I suppose I use less money than Westerner people of my age. But is that an answer to anything? I can only change my life, not anyone else’s.

I got a very coherent introduction to the ships engine and how it works. After this, the electrician took me to the engine room where I could see everything in action. My head was spinning but I think I learned some things. Independent Concept is a new ship, it was build in 2007 in China and is has the most contemporary technology implemented. Energy is recycled – for environmental reason but even more for saving fuel. The engine burn the fuel as purely as possible and this is how the carbon emissions are reduced. Also the exhaust pipes are used to heat water and make steam. The system is a bit similar as in some Finnish sauna’s where the chimney is used to heat hot water for bathing. The water is cleaned from sea water and all the sewage is cleaned before it’s dumbed back to the sea.

I think the chief engineer is a nice person He says he goes to the sea with the crew and will come back home safely together. I think it’s ok to trust a man who has been sailing for 32 years. I like people who have a wide point of view to the world.

I chat with the purser after the dinner and he says I’m welcomed to the crew mess to watch TV and spend some time. He says many have been interested in what I’m doing running around with my cameras. There was a funny accident with English language again. He says the guys want to know about my ”private life”! I suppose that’s not what he meant!

I went to the front deck by myself after the dinner. You can’t feel or hear the engine there, only the waves are breaking. I think about loneliness and sharing an experience again. Not every experience is meant for sharing. Maybe it is true that I have to be alone in the middle of the ocean seeing the colours of the sun set and the metallic waves. I have a koi fish tattooed on my shoulder. This is the sea. This is where I’m meant to be now. Alone, strong, myself, my moment, my element and the totem.

DAY 5.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Me at my favourite place

Chief mate Jevgen asked me if I wanted to go to the front deck this morning. The weather is beautiful. I filmed men at work on the deck and then, we went to the front. I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed! The vessels blue front lead to the sea and there were only short rails on the sides. There, right there is America. And here is the endless sea. I wanted to stay, breath. Just like when you climb on a mountain top or walk deep to a forest – your just want to stop for a long time. To exist. Being right here in between these worlds. Right here. Breathing.

We climb to the second mast, too, which is on the the top of the bridge. The radar needs to be switched off for that time. Guess, it doesn’t matter because you can see everywhere. The radar reminds me of this one man who made his own small boat and sailed across the ocean. He was once still in fog somewhere close to English canal. He couldn’t see anything but he also knew that the radars of the big cargo ships couldn’t see his tiny boat either. Jevgen smiles at my excitement. But he admits that he gets excited, too when he comes back on board after a long holiday.

I’m embarrassed that I always leave so much food on the plate. I just can’t eat so much food as the men. I apologise for the chef. But we end up discussing sea sickness as usual…

We are half a way this of this travel now. I get used to live like this so quickly. I finished the book by Kyllikki Villa and cried a bit. I adore people who don’t settle on what happens to be in front of them but look for more. I know that one gets used to cold or warm or ship life like this. Those are things that can be taken as they are. Nothing to worry about that, just to adjust. But this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be proactive! Kyllikki was. I hope that in some way I could be, too.

I went to the bridge and told about my day’s adventures. And got to know that the crew sometimes hangs out and drink bier on the front deck – the same place where I had my universe embracing experience. It’s a good spot for drinks, too, definitely!

DAY 4.

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Bridge 19102010

Everyone looks at me with doubt in their eyes: ”Are you sea sick?”. I don’t tell about my herbs, but I’m fine. I cross my fingers. I know I might be. I guess, the world will be rocking still after ten days on board. Now, the rocking is beautiful. The ship is like a rocking chair when rolling. I fall a sleep on the sofa because of that. Then, I go to the bridge, we are somewhere after Ireland. It is nice to see that the maps are used for navigation as always even though everything else looks so technical. The sun is shining and the waves are big. I ask if I could go filming in the front deck, but it’s too windy. I might have not been able to stand there anyway.

I think about people who are smuggled in those kind of containers. It is horrifying. Weeks in dark, smelly small space. The sea sickness must be paralysing. It is a miracle that people survive from that. And is the life better on the other side if you manage to get there? The inequality of the world makes people do desperate things. I believe that everything would be better if we’d only place no one above no one. And I catch myself being arrogant too often!

The officers are Europeans on this vessel (Ukrainian, Romanian and Polish) and other crew members are Filipinos. This reminds me of Bangok where I was filming a big bridge construction site some years ago. They had the same division in nationalities: the project was managed by Westerners (Swedish, French etc.) and the hard work was done by Cambodians.

”The beauty of life is to experience yourself.” This is what is said in my tea bag today. Heh!

I was thinking here, after watching out from the window for quite a while: why staring is so not polite? Children are rebuked when they stare. But the children stare with healthy innocence at things or people they’ve not seen before. Why is that bad? Random thoughts.

DAY 3.

Monday, October 18th, 2010


Some tips for travelling on a freighter:

  • Take shoes and clothes with you that can get dirty on the decks. Don’t go inside the cabin with you shoes on, there might be oil or something stuck in outsoles.
  • The vessel is a working place. Your existence is not obligated to be interested of anyone. But people are fair and friendly, indeed.
  • There’s no vegetarian food available on board. Take some proteins with you: soy, nuts, beans etc. The chef is probably nice and will prepare some veggie food to you if you ask. The food is generally very fulfilling.
  • When you walk around, always keep one hand on the rail (the rule that I disobey regularly).
  • If you go out in the terminal, wear safety vest and walk only on the marked footpaths.
  • You can send e-mail from some of the ships. On Independent Concept, e-mailing costs ten dollars and that money is quite enough to send all the e-mails you need during the travel.
  • There are no amusement parks on board so you have to figure out your own entertainment. The travel is perfect for working, there are no interruptions. Personally, I would always travel this way if I only had the money to do so. It is good to have routines to rhythm the days.

I was given a paper called ”Information for the passenger”! Pavlo said that he can give me a tour around the vessel, but added laconically that I’ve already been everywhere. No I haven’t! Let’s go! I think I have innocently broken some of the rules. But still, I have common sense when filming so everything should be fine.

The pilot says that our delay cost 100 000 pounds. I’m not totally sure if pounds was the currency he was talking about but either way it’s an impressive amount of money.

We went pass Ireland til the evening. The swells got bigger right after we get away from the shore. I can see spindrifts. The weather should be good that’s what everybody have been telling me. But I can’t really tell when it’s a bad or good weather. I regret right away writing this. I don’t want to know about bad weather at this point. I stand steadily and feel the new movement. It feels funny when the ship is going down from the wave – pitching. I have already taken some Chinese herbs for many days. I got them from acupuncturist who is a former seaman. I trust him. I have some western medication with me, too, but hopefully I don’t need to take them. I get sick in buses and spaces where I can’t see out. Luckily, this cabin and the whole vessel is full of windows!

DAY 2.

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Heading towards the lock

I wake up and look out form window. I see a lighthouse and shore. The ship is not moving. I find out at breakfast that the crash yesterday had caused more serious damage. Some containers are not stable enough and continuing wasn’t safe. I guess it would be fatal to any ship if the cargo moved. I’m happy that there are no risks taken even though the schedule is tight. The pilot jokes on the bridge: ”Welcome to Chester!” when we dock to the same location where we were yesterday. The journey starts at seven the same night and we are one day behind schedule.

Everything that had somehow felt like a historical moment in my life yesterday, happens again today. ”Replay”, the captain says and laughs. Luckily the only woman on board is not blamed on anything… I’m a bit disturbed that no one talks at meals. After short ”Bon Appetit” greeting nobody talks if I don’t start. I’m not very talkative person myself so the silence bugs me. The chef had made me a meal of the soy beans I brought with me. Purser couldn’t understand that they taste anything. They were good. Vegetarian and meat eater taste are different, it’s no big deal.

It’s seven o’clock but the ship is not moving. There are some guys hanging around who should release the ropes.

I think about the life of seamen. Months on the ship, routines and small spaces. Away from family and loved ones. Work. Harbours and places you hardly see. I’m not so surprised that people don’t always talk so much. The times have changed, though. It was very different when my relatives generations ago went to US. The travel times are shorter and the vessels are bigger. Everything must be more efficient. I think economist Peter A. Victor was right when he said that the smaller the computers get the bigger are the things designed with them.

Now, the ship is moving.

Michael Jackson’s ”Man in the mirror” starts the voyage. From radio. I almost cry. In fact, that song was always the last song Jackson sang in his concerts. I think it’s a very good song to start a journey with. From whom can you start from if not yourself?