SOIC East-India-Man Replica Götheborg III

2010-06-11 Friday - ALARM

00:00-04:00, "Middle Watch", south of Bornholm.
How did I make this picture? Well, just a long exposure time, without flash. You must not use flash on deck, as another ship might interprete this as a strange signal. So I chose a fixed position for the camera and waited 4 long seconds, hoping that the picture would not blurr too much ... but modern digital cameras do a lot for You :)

01:00 "Ready to set the main sail!" In other words: go aloft, out on the main yard, and loose the seizings of the main sail - yes, in the night, that is a challenge for a land lubber ;)

Down the shrouds, on deck again, loose the brails and clewlines, haul sheets and tacks. That manouvre took about half an hour - we did not have to brace again. The challenge was: doing this at night!

It was not so hard. Just dark. We had almost no wind and no rain, so what was the problem :) ?

Time for nother sailors´ game: jumping for lines. During the last days we did work with a number of lines to handle the sails, so there was a chance to remember what a line was used for and where it was belayed.

Emil asked us questions like "OK, where are the fore topsail braces? Find them - yes, in the dark!" I knew, went to the pins - and kept silent, not to break the game unfairly, I learned these things 30 years ago when making ship models, and I learned the belayings of the Götheborg on my last voyage - I liked that game, of course ;)

The fore topsail braces, used to swing the yard into the wind, are belayed on the bitt behind the main mast; all three fore braces - fore, topsail and topgallant - go onto that bitt.

A new trainee has to use his eyes, and follow the lead of the lines, from the topsail yard arms back to the main mast ... and "somewhere" down the mast. Hard to see in the night, I admit ...

Emil, checking our position before Bornholm, and the weather forecast.

Then we continued with education: our helmsman told us more about the entire rigging and how to use it ...

When our watch was over, the weather was still calm and turned misty ... looks quite mysterious :)

12:00 - 16:00, Afternoon Watch ... but I came different:

11:30 we were preparing ourselves for the afternoon watch - and suddenly: ALARM! All hands on deck, now! And don´t leave anybody behind!

Within 5 minutes, all people, some not ready putting their clothes on, gathered around the capstan behind the main mast, waiting for instructions. All trainees stood at their muster positions of the three watches, the core crew around the aft stairway. First they said nothing, for they did not know themselves, what we saw was a fire guard going into the machine room. The captain gave us the first information: this was no drill! When they say nothing on the alarm signal, it is always a hot alarm... so we became more ernest ...

What actually happened? The Götheborg III has 2 auxiliary propellers. During sailing, we used both machines to get us to Stockholm in time. But then the starboard machine had a faulty break and stopped, making some smoke in the machine room. That was automatically detected by a smoke sensor, and that triggered the alarm. Ironically, just 10 minutes before an alarm drill was about to come ... we were explained these things around 12:30 by our security officer when the situation was clear.

The port machine was still functioning, but we could no longer use the starboard machine. But, no other damage to the ship, no fire. So we could continue our voyage. For us, it was a lesson how to behave in emergency situations. This was the only incident on the entire voyage.

Luckily, we had wind eventually, and so we sat all sails, to support the machines :) And so we made 7 knots speed!

On this watch, I was "backis", helping in the kitchen. Due to the alarm, even the cook had to leave his place - and eventually, the big potato pot had some burnt rests on the bottom, which was VERY hard to clean :)

Later the day, the sails were clewed up fro reefing and the brails hauled fairly, to make work a little easier ... but still, the sail is heavy to be shortened, as some canvas is to be bound inside the reefings, beneath the yard.