18th December 2001
Today I have a new philosophy on life, or at least this trip anyway. Yesterday was my 60th day at sea, and people keep telling me that for some reason the worst period away at sea is around 60 days. I guess the logic is that before this point everything is relatively new and you are establishing routines and getting on with it, and after this point you are counting down the days to the end of the trip and feel that at least you are over the worst of it, but around the mid point are the dark days.
That has certainly been true for me so far. The last week or two have been really bad and the last couple of days I couldn’t even see the point in writing my diary (the one thing which helps me make sense of all of this). I’ve felt depressed and more bored than I ever thought possible.
Yesterday being the milestone that it was, I decided to spend as a holiday. I did no work, I didn’t even look at the net once. I felt due a day off and so took one. All day long I read books, and lazed around (as much as is possible with nowhere to laze) and in the evening I watched a DVD and rang Amy. Now, you’d think that sounds like a reasonably good day off considering my situation, but actually it was a horrible day; I was miserable and instead of feeling good about my day of leisure I felt sick and bloated, utterly down and I hated life. I wallowed in the boredom and depression all day, and felt thoroughly sorry for myself. In bed last night, as I was drifting off to sleep I realised that all this bad feeling was self-induced, and I wasn’t doing myself any favours at all.
I think wallowing in self-pity has a place, and I hope it’s place is Yesterday. The way I see it is that it is entirely up to me what I get from this trip; I can either take as much as I can from the experience, or just exist until the wage packet arrives at the end. I think it’s probably better to do the former. So I think I’ve come to a turning point and can see some light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a relief.
I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing form here, but I hope that worst is behind. Christmas at sea and away from home is going to be strange. I’ve heard different things about it, the Officers are very down on it and say it’s a day like any other except you get more food, but the crew seem to look forward to it and celebrate it more. I’ll see how it goes but if the Officers are going to mope around all Christmas I’m going to go down stairs with the crew. I don’t want to be sucked into their misery.
I think the bad atmosphere on this ship is fairly unusual among the fleet. When I speak to the other observers on other ships it seems like they are having a great time on board, with parties and music and Christmas decorations and banter, so hopefully I’ll be able to find some of that. I guess the atmosphere here is understandable; having such a horrific accident on board and seeing one of their own caught in the winch, decapitated and sliced into three didn’t start the trip off well. Then all of the subsequent issues with the crew refusing to work and holding the bosun at knife point compounded a difficult situation, but I hope for a bit of fun at Christmas.
I can’t pretend that it’s all good out here, and it’s good to acknowledge that it’s hard, but if I keep in mind that I’m getting paid to read books, watch whales and poke around in fishing nets then it sweetens the pill. And it’s not all that bad!