Running gags and rituals on board


by Katharina

Our life aboard the Thor Heyerdahl is like an inertial system and therefore a life full of extraordinary rituals, traditions and unique running gags. Some of them are done every week or even every day, some are more or less our own jokes made up by our Year group and others are word jokes, which I sadly really can’t translate into English.

First of all, to our daily habits, one is our signal sequence at lunch time. It starts with a short ring tone followed by our ships horn, a low and loud sound and then 8 bell rings from the front of the ship. If the galley duty is on time their bell also follows directly after with a person running through the whole ship. These signals wouldn’t be special at all for an outstanding person but for us it is a signal of home. Another daily thing is the silent minute before every meal, it offers you some time to realize where you are or just give a glimpse inside your mind.

On the weekly basis we have a lot of rituals as well, like for example two days where we are allowed to eat Nutella and Peanut Butter on Sunday and seaman’s Sunday which is on Thursday. On Saturday we have a big cleaning process where we clean everything including our cabins and at the end the captain and the ships council controls it. After that the weekend starts with Besanschotan. It is filled with program like cultural items, the lost and found auction and then the official part with a tasty drink for everyone. The first drink for Neptune, the second one for our captain and then every member of our ship’s community has the honor as well. It is such a joy to just sit on the poop deck, listen to songs and poems, enjoy your drink with good thoughts in your head and know that the week is over.

Now to some rituals of our trip which I want to highlight. A very special one was the Atlantic baptism. I am not allowed to tell more about it as it should be a surprise for every new coming KUSi. But what I can tell is that it was definitely the most surprising and strange tradition I have ever heard of and no one could imagine what it was like. An incredible experience is also when you arrive at the Caribbean after 3 weeks on the ocean. The first time we went back on the mainland has to be special, therefore we all swam from the Thor to Palm Island. I don’t want to know how strange it seemed to see 34 students swimming energetically to the beautiful beach of the Hotel Resort but for us the moment was unforgettable and of course associated with an exciting moment. On Christmas we had a few traditions in order to feel like home, too. The first one is that each person on board makes an anonymous present for another person, a so-called Secret Santa. We all did arts and craft in the most creative ways as the possibilities are limited on our vessel. On Christmas eve a crew member acted out the Christ Child and came with a big bag with our presents. I have to say she didn’t just come somehow, she abseiled herself from the rigging. This is by the way a good example to show how we find alternative ways for every normal habit.

Last but not least I want to focus a bit on our Year group, the KUSis 19/20. As you probably know, we are 34 students from different parts of Germany and very opposing characters, interests and backgrounds. But, what we all have in common is our motivation for new things, our great sense of humor and our lifestyle onboard a sail training vessel. Just try to imagine the situation, I think it is pretty obvious that many running gags arise. The most common word running gag is a phrase from a German song, translated it would be “Oh, boy”. I guess it sounds a bit boring but if you just hear this comment no matter what you say or what happens it gets funny at some point. Another gag in this category is “Du Kek”, which means something like “You’re a fool”. For us this isn’t a mean phrase, it’s more like telling someone if he just acted weird, stupid or just ridiculous.

There are many more phrases I could try to explain but it would be too complicated and also too hard to imagine but I ask you very much to just take a moment and try to think of your top five running gags with your family or friends. Don’t just read over this line and forget it because laughing is important and very valuable.