First full day out on the ocean and with the Golden Gate’s disappearance into the now, east, so too had to go my thoughts of what’s to come. Well, at least on hold in the back of my mind.
It was time to go full steam ahead in the expected routine of my job which has only slightly varied from when we were at docks. The transition was smooth enough as far as I was concerned, demonstrating to the CS I knew my assignments very well.
After breakfast our Chief Steward calls a meeting of kitchen staff, chef included. “Things change a little now that we’re out to sea, you’ll find the law is different than when we were at dock. Trash of any kind and especially cigarette butts will never be disposed of overboard, is that clear? There is a proper place for everything and I do mean everything!”
He went on, “It’s now time to get dressed up real warm ’cause we’re gonna stock the deep freeze and the main refrigerators.” Coats, beanies and gloves were provided and we quickly bundled up.
The supplies that were loaded prior now had to be put away in orderly fashion; items must be readily available. Bottled water, juices, milk, meats, veggies, etc., no hassles and wasted time trying to locate anything.
“Consider one of the engine room guys coming into the kitchen for a drink or snack, they shouldn’t have to waste time searching for anything in the refrigerators, so organization is always priority,” the CS spoke as he pointed out where to place the various items.
The boxes were opened, the large freezer and fridge shelves were stocked and the empties were broke down flat, bundled and placed in the holding spot. At the next port they’d be removed. The dry pantry was handled the same way minus the coats, gloves and beanies of course!
3rd day – our Chief Steward calls everybody to gather. We would now receive instructions for handling a case of emergency. An alarm was sounded. “Line up on deck and wait for the 1st or 2nd Officer’s instructions.”
In each of our cabins there was a life jacket for every individual. “Do not stop to put it on. Grab it and get topside asap! You can put it on as you go or once you are up on deck. We will do this drill every third day.”
I realized quick enough we’d be eating real good on this ship. You say you feel like having a pork chop, the kitchen obliged by sending out a hot plate with about a half a dozen of ‘em! There was no chance of anyone dining alone because someone would catch a whiff and be beside you in no time flat, sharing in the delights.
Away from the kitchen CS had the linen closet key so I always had to ask for that; seems like we had greater concerns than to worry about linens disappearing – oh well. At least three times a week I’d change out the sheets and towels I used, all of us being responsible for our own.
Making certain the Skipper’s quarters were always clean and amply stocked with the necessities for his comfort was another factor of my duties; remember he was my personal assignment.
Daily routine breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Once in a while the Skipper would make casual conversation with me. I was the only Hindu person on board his ship and he asked me if I was actually from India. I shared with him the short version of being born and raised in the Fiji Islands. He was kind enough and for his liking, our Captain soon nicknamed me ‘Fiji’.
Coming out from one of the cabins, Nancy Sinatra’s hit single, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” sounded throughout the corridor -other tunes too but that one several times a day.
Two of the deckhands, a middle-aged man and his son from the southeastern U.S. were the occupants of that cabin and this seemed be their favorite song. It didn’t take long for that tune to stick like flypaper in my brain and to this day, it surfaces at the funniest of times.
My break after the lunch service was always a breeze, kickin’ it on the aft deck. Often I’d get to see various fish leaping from the water and capturing my attention. Otherwise I gave in to a sea of thoughts. And in the evenings I anticipated with great pleasure, the sunset.
“These Boots Are Made For Walking” released in November of 1965 and was written by Lee Hazelwood. By the end of January, 1966 it had topped the charts taking over the #1 spot in both the U.S. and the U.K. Cinema utilized the song in Full Metal Jacket, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and most recently in Ocean’s 8, just to name a few.