Today was my first day on gash duties. Of all the passengers on the ship (five of us), I was the last to participate. This had its advantages because almost everything had been done in the days before.
For the breakfast slot, I reported to the Steward, Dave, at 7 am thinking I would have a long day ahead of me. I was given the tasks of hoovering the red room (lounge), hoovering around the mess room and hoovering and dusting the officers’ lounge, two decks up. This seemed easy, and in the mess area it was. Up in the officer’s lounge it was a bit different. We are now in the convergence of the Atlantic and Southern oceans. Warm and cold waters are meeting and there is quite a big swell. The ship was lurching from one side to the other. We have always been advised by the crew to ‘keep one hand for the ship and one hand for yourself’. This did not help much because the room is rather big, so my tactic was to catch onto the first thing that came my way. I completed the task but in the process I think I spent as much time on the floor as the head of the hoover. I was off duty from 8 am until lunch.
I had always wondered how the crew managed to stay upright while the ship was throwing the rest of us all around. I thought it was years of experience and a developed skill to anticipate the sea and somehow become one with it. But since I was told that piece of advice I have noticed that whenever they stop to talk to us they automatically either wedge themselves in between two pieces of fixed furniture or put their arm around something immovable as if they were in a relaxed pose, but really are hanging on tight. Mystery solved.
I reported in to the mess room at 11 am for the lunch slot. Dave and I put out all the cold dishes, salads and hot food. Today was pizza. We had a selection of pepperoni or spicy pepperoni pizzas. There was also curry soup. I was told to quickly grab some lunch before it got busy, which I did and sat down next to the chef. He was only eating the soup. I thanked him for the food and asked him if he was going to have any of the other dishes. He said ‘NO’. To try and engage in a longer conversation I asked how long he had been the chef on the Shackleton and thought about asking about his time on board. Unfortunately he didn’t really answer as he was already pre-occupied with talking to himself. Then, until 12:30, I was washing and drying dishes and putting them away, which was not a hard task as there are only 22 crew members (some asleep during the day) and us five passengers.