Sentry duty – by Christoph

schueler.christoph“Christoph! Christoph! You have to get up! Your guard starts in an hour. It’s very cold outside. Put everything on that you have!“, whispers somebody. It’s hard to get up because I am so tired, but after a few minutes I finally make it. And every morning starts like this at 7 o‘ clock. I get up, put my clothes on and walk into the messroom where 10 other tired faces sit around the table. We have breakfast together with our heads of the watch Ruth, Natalie and Michael. At half past 7, we put our oilskin jackets, trousers and harnesses (which we need to secure ourselves) on so that at 8 o‘ clock all people of watch 4 stand on the poop deck to change the guard. All members of the two guards stand on the deck. The head of watch 3, who can also be a pupil, tells us all necessary information, for example what course we have. After saying “Gode Ruh“ (“good rest“) to them everyone of us takes a position. Somebody has to steer the ship. This is very popular and everybody wants to do that. That’s the reason why Ruth lets the one be at the helm who did not do it the last time or who is seasick, because for the sick KUSis it is better to stand on the deck. Hence me and the other few pupils (about four out of eight) who are not seasick have to do the unpleasant tasks, for example to check the engine. In the engine room it is very hot and the air smells of oil and diesel fuel, but it has to be done every hour. We also go through the ship every hour and check whether the bilges are dry, the windows are closed, there is no fire on board and all the other safety rules are followed. Furthermore we need two lookouts, one on starboard and one on the port side. If we see a ship or something else, we just inform the mate about it. We also have to say where and what it is. Yesterday evening, I was a lookout, and after a while, I suddenly saw something very fast below me in the water. First, I thought I did not see well, but then I made out dolphins! All persons who stood on deck ran to the railing. It was difficult to see them because it was dark and they were very fast but most of us got a glimpse of them. They were beautiful and we had a lot of luck.

It is also interesting that the Thor Heyerdahl sends weather information to the German weather forecast. That’s why we note the weather data every hour. We measure the air and the water temperature. We also write down the atmospheric pressure, the wind direction and force. All of these jobs are assigned to different people every time so that everyone of us can do every single task. And if somebody did not steer the ship for example during the morning guard, he or she can do this in the evening from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. or the next day or the next morning … The only thing we can not do whenever we want to is to sleep. Therefore we have to wait until we are in the next harbour. Then only four pupils have to be on night guard, each one for one and a half hours.

The last thing I want to tell you about are our daily meetings. Each of the four guards, who are responsible for one part of the ship with its corresponding sails, has these meetings. We learn about nautic theory, which is very interesting. And now I have to stop writing, because our meeting starts in 10 minutes.