Tuesday, 31 March 2009

My trip on the Jeannie Johnston trip to Dublin - day one

I arrived at the ship at about 18.00, after a long bus journey from my home. On my back was an 80-litre rucksack, into which I had packed many changes of clothes. I was one of the first volunteers to arrive, and the bosun's mate, a young Australian woman, took me down to choose a berth. Each berth had two bunks in it, each with a blanket, pillow case and life preserver. On the wall hung waterproofs and harnesses. As the ship was not going to be full I decided to have a berth on my own, and she pointed out one where there was a little leak from the deck above - the top bunk was unusable, but the bottom was fine and dry. I chose this, although later regretted it. It never leaked; indeed, it remained quite dry unlike other bunks, but the berth was filled with a sickly damp smell for the entire journey.

After getting a few things ready I went up onto deck. People were milling around and dinner was being served by the galley. People were eating with their plates resting on the side rail of the ship. I had eaten a large lunch with Sencan and some of her colleagues (it was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and they were all taking advantage of that. It seemed very apt). I was told that were were going to have to move the ship, so as the sun continued to sink down on the other side of the river we pulled in the mooring lines and motored upstream slightly. I had little idea of what was happening, but helped where and when instructed. A heaving line was thrown out, at the end of which was a Monkey's fist, a knot designed to make the end of the rope heavier. This line was thrown out, and someone on land pulled it, also pulling across the heavier mooring line. When that was attached to a bollard, we on deck had to tighten the lines then wrap them around large wooden posts called Samson Posts.

After we settled in I watched the Waverley come in - the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world that is based up near Glasgow. I had seen this in Scotland, but had no idea that it ever came down to the south coast. Then everyone got ready to go out. Our new berth was in the actual docks area, so we had a long walk to get out and into town. The security guards noted our leaving, and we soon settled in a pub which is adjacent to the cinema that ┼×encan and I go to. It felt strange being there in such different company. I had four pints, but after the Irish lads went on to a club in town, myself, a couple of the Irish and virtually the entire English contingent went back to the ship. I found that a visit to the undoubted attractions of a strip club did not tempt me when compared to a lie-down in bed.

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