It was with some trepidation that we’d boarded our container ship the Theodor Storm for the ten day voyage from Singapore to Brisbane. We were the only two passengers on the 30,000 tonne vessel, joining a crew of Russian and Ukrainian officers and Fillippino merchant seamen. Relations amongst the crew seemed entirely amicable but tensions on a voyage at the end of last year led to the Fillippino bosun killing the Russian second engineer. ‘He wouldn’t have died’ noted Pavlo the Ukrainian second officer who had joined the crew since the incident, ‘but he was left injured for several hours unreported’. Nice.
We sat on the ship for 36 hours in Singapore whilst loading was completed having been encouraged to board somewhat prematurely by the enthusiastic shipping agent. Instead of sipping cocktail slings in town, we had an extra day and a half on the ship watching cargo being loaded. Hmmmm.Once at sea we quickly found a routine based around mealtimes, at which we were fed within an inch of our lives, which combined with our slightly sloth-like existence threatened to swiftly undo the travelling weight loss of the last six months. To stave off the return of looming fatness we embarked on a regime of intensive table-tennis sessions, deck walks and avoidance of the tempting lift, instead making the effort to walk up and down the six flights of stairs between our cabin and the galley. Well, some of the time at least.
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