Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One of the things I've done in my 'spare' time is re-write the Waterman job description.

Here's the old one, which doesn't really say much:

4 months

deck trainee

  • - common deck jobs
  • - chipping rust
  • - painting
  • - rubbish
  • - cargo handling

12 months

water trainee or waterman assistant

being taught waterman duties as

  • - soundings, fresh and ballast water
  • - greasing jobs
  • - luggage storage
  • - key cutting and lock maintenance
  • - fixing shoes
  • - improving and developing work procedures

8 months


  • - teaching and passing on duties
  • - leading the water department of about 2 personnel
  • - continuing the regular duty of water supply- maintenance and learned duties

Here's my proposed replacement, which I think explains better what we actually do. There are two watermen at any point, one of whom is training the other.

  • Making sure the ship has safe, clean, good drinking water. This involves:
    • Loading water (sometimes by trucks, water barges, etc, which can come at any time of day or night, and take up to 13 or more hours to load the specified amount).
    • Sounding all the water tanks every day, reading engine room gauges, and filling in log books.
    • Making sure the ship’s stability as far as ballast tanks and water tanks are ready for voyages.
    • Taking various chemical and bacteria tests on the water when loading and at other intervals.
    • Having a good and thorough understanding of the ship’s freshwater system, including running all the freshwater pumps and valves in the Engine Room.
  • Taking care that the ship does not list from side to side while working, and that the Engine Room watch-keepers are able to transfer water to correct list, that the ship’s draft and trim are good for sailing, and taking accurate readings of them.
  • Preparing ballast and water tanks for inspection and maintenance work (emptying the tanks, opening manholes, maintaining the manhole covers, ventilating and inspecting tanks).
  • Making keys for the ship, maintaining all the locks, taking them apart and cleaning them, etc.
  • Greasing various pieces of deck machinery.
  • Bringing up and down luggage when needed to the baggage locker, and keeping it in order.
  • Mending shoes, belts, bags, etc.
  • Attending deck department devotions at 0900h.
  • Normal deck sea-watches and mooring stations.
  • Some maintenance of valves, tanks, pumps, and pipes.
  • Thinking of creative ways to do things, work around problems, and invent or establish new ways to get jobs done, and passing these on to the next watermen.

    There are usually two watermen, one experienced who teaches/leads the new one.

    There is very fine detail work (reassembling locks) and quite heavy work too (opening man-holes and floor-plates in the engine room, carrying bags, pumps, etc). A lot of the time is spent working alone, so self-motivation and taking ownership is important, but also a lot of the time communicating liaising and working with various departments and others (Chief Mate, Boatswain, Chief Engineer, Personnel Secretary, Purser, Engine Room Watch-keepers, local port workers (who may not speak English), the Shipping Agent, and so on.)

    Many times there will be several jobs running at the same time, with pressure from many people to complete different jobs for them, while there are other responsibilities needed to be taken care of.

    Thinking ahead and taking good care and responsibility are vital as failure to complete jobs or do them well can result in flooding sections of the ship, wasting tons of (expensive) water, breaking expensive deck and engine machinery, causing security and safety hazards, the ship having unsafe or contaminated drinking water, or even causing the ship to not be able to sail.

    Sometimes the watermen need to work very long or strange hours, finishing jobs during the night, loading water, waiting for water barges, getting called down to the Engine Room at 0200h to help the watch-keeper, and so on.

    All in all, one of the most fun and interesting jobs on board.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The crowds on the quayside on Sunday. It was like that *ALL* day! Very

Friday, January 26, 2007

Deckie outing today. A really nice beach/hotel resort. Most spent most of the time in the pool, actually. I dozed in the sun. Nice lunch.

Got back to the ship, noticed the water hose had half fallen off the deck into the water (YUK!)

So I've had to go and rinse it out and start de-contaminating it. blah. Sea water here is revolting, around the port area.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I think I may have mentioned I'm quite busy, and a bit tired. Here is a summary of my week, so far.

Tuesday 23 January 2007:

07:30-07:55 - breakfast.
08:00-08:55 - Associate director's devotion, and community announcments
09:00-15:30 - final transferring of water, sounding tanks etc to prepare ship stability for sailing.
16:00-17:00 - stand-by for mooring stations
17:00-18:30 - mooring stations, leaving the port, preparing the anchor, and dinner squeezed in while others were on anchor watch.
18:30-19:00 - Dutch dance "dress rehearsal" to check dance quality for the programmes
19:30-20:30 - "Port report", community meeting to see what happened in Manilla, exchange news, stories, etc.
20:30-22:00 - Lying awake in bed with the light off.
22:05-23:45 - Sleep is a lost cause. Drinking coffee, chatting on yahoo, and getting dressed and ready for sea-watch

Wednesday 24 January 2007:

...-04:20 - Sea watch on the bridge. Training 2 new helmsmen while supervising lookouts, keeping watch, steering the ship, etc.
04:30-05:00 - Getting ready for bed, I still have no bathroom, and so have to use one down by the engine room.
05:00-07:00 - Sleep (2 hours)
07:00-07:30 - Breakfast
07:30-08:45 - Bible Study groups
08:45-11:30 - Lifeboat Drills. More about this later.
11:30-11:45 - Grabbing an apple for lunch, showering, and getting dressed for sea-watch 11:45-16:20 - Sea watch on the bridge. Continued training of one of the new helmsmen, while
keeping lookout, etc.
16:20-17:30 - Sitting in the mess, eating carrots, waiting for dinner.
17:30-18:00 - Dinner.
18:00-18:20 - Preparing for bed.
18:20-23:00 - Sleep (4 and a half hours)
23:00-23:45 - Preparing for sea-watch, drinking coffee, etc.

Thursday 25 January 2007:

-...04:20 - Sea watch on the bridge, you know the story.
04:30-05:00 - Getting ready for bed.
05:00-07:30 - Sleep (2 and a half hours)
07:30-07:55 - Breakfast
08:00-08:45 - Teaching session on Galatians.
08:45-10:30 - Mooring stations, arriving in Cebu. Most experienced people just left, and we have a new deck officer who doesn't speak English perfectly yet (although he knows everything completely in Korean).
10:30-11:30 - Soundings, getting water checked out, and filling log books.
11:30-12:00 - Lunch.
12:00-13:30 - Check emails, write new Job Description for watermen, prepare other jobs, find out whats happening with the water this port.
13:30-14:30 - Help with packing down the lifeboats, and settling down to wait for the first water truck to arrive.
14:30-15:30 - Find out that the water trucks (about 20 of them) will arrive at 19:00 tonight, so decide to write a few emails then sleep til 17:30 for dinner...
15:30 - Now.

So. We'll be loading water from 19:00 or so until midnight or around then. Probably later. 200 tons. It's free, though, which is nice.

Dear Steven Covey - Thanks buddy! Sectoring my time is really helping me be efficient (and facetious - right now.)

About the lifeboat drills, I've just been reassigned, I found out at breakfast, to coxswain of life-boat 1. Very cool. Very nice lifeboat. But I've not actually been in boat 1 in the water before. Nor have I ever been coxswain before, outside of the training a few months ago, in a totally calm harbour, after all the theory and going through all the procedures with everyone about 10 times.

Today, we had a man-overboard drill, so not only do we decide to use boat 1 (the smallest fasted lifeboat), but also a man-overboard, which is more complicated. AND, for man-overboard we don't use the normal crew of boat 1 (not that I'd ever worked with most of them on the boat before anyway), but all of the other much more experienced coxswains are the crew!

So I had to assign them to various jobs (bowman, sternman, ladderman, starting the engine, etc, tricing-in lines, and so on), then have pretty much of the whole of ALL the lifeboat crews of ALL the boats watching me and standing around getting slightly in the way, and doing stuff ONLY when I told them to, rather than when they saw it needing doing (which in a way is good, I guess???), then we went to the water, I was at the helm, with as well as the normal man over board rescue stuff, a photographer and video-cameraman in the boat to get extra footage for projects, in calm (but nevertheless ocean) waves, picking up the man-overboard-dummy, and bringing back along-side to be picked up, with all the other coxswains giving lots of helpful advice (ahem.) for this lifeboat I'd never been in before.

Anyway. It wasn't a complete disaster. At least it was a drill, not for real. I learned a lot. I'm more humble now than before, I think. I hope. The captain, chief mate, and second mate all said well done to me, for my first drill as coxswain. (in reality, I "ran over" the dummy, because I turned the tiller wrong way into the wind, with the motor still going a bit too late), a boat-hook broke (not my fault), the exhaust pipe fell off (also not my fault), I had to come in along side twice (my first time in this boat, with a motor (also first time in ages), first time at the helm of a lifeboat while at sea, with currents and waves and all that too, so no surprise, but a bit embarressing with all the crews watching me, and all the experienced coxswains giving "advice", two passengers taking photos and videos and all, a nurse worrying about the health of the man-overboard dummy, and the man-overboard dummy, who just grinned at me the whole time in a most disturbing way.

So yeah. That added to the fun of the day.

Anyway, I'm going to sleep now, or at least rest. Start work again at 18:00.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

There was a small leak in my bathroom ceiling about 2 months ago.

I wrote a request form for the plumbers to come and have a look. They came a week ago, pulled the ceiling apart, ripped out some pipes, splashed water everywhere, left pipes pouring out for about 3 days, dropped a pipe through the sink and smashed a hole big enough for my arm to go through!

There is a step-ladder in my shower, welding rods in my sink (whats left of it) and dirt everywhere, and it still drips from the ceiling over the toilet.

They also pulled the light out of the wall, smashing the wood of the fixture, and I'm currently waiting with great interest to see what happens next!

Now the most cool thing in the whole epic is as follows:

That bathroom has needed re-painting for about 6 months. The floor is quite bad. So I was going to repaint it, getting ideas, browsing "dynamic interior design for incredibly small bathrooms" at bookstores, and so on.

The day I was going to paint it, I got distracted by work and stuff, and so didn't manage to start.
That day, the plumbers came and smashed the whole place up! If God hadn't distracted me and kept me from going ahead, it would all have been in vain! God is nice like that.