Written by Lisa
Let us put 50 people together on a 50 meter long ship for six month an see what will happen. They will talk to each other and make grammar mistakes, turning into running gags. Thousands of inside jokes and fails will be the result of such a journey. Daily and weekly rituals will be part of the normal life. Indistinct for everyone who is not part of the project but unforgettable and important for everyone of us. I want to tell you something about this special part of our project.
The first important section are the sailing traditions, such as Seaman’s Sunday, which is traditionally on Thursday. Sundays we are allowed to eat Nutella, peanut butter and also cake at coffee break. Thanks to Seaman’s Sunday we can enjoy all those specials two times a week. Another important tradition is the handing over of the watch. Five minutes before the hand-over time the two watches meet at the mizzen mast and every watch handover ends with the same traditional northern German words:
“The old watch wishes the new watch a good watch.” “The new watch wishes the old watch a good rest.” “Replace helmsman and lookout.”
Another ritual is the mysterious equator baptism or in our special case the Atlantic Ocean baptism. It is obligatory for everyone who crosses the Atlantic Ocean by ship for the first time. Another mystery is the mast secret that you can only discover by climbing up to the very top of the mast. There are many more interesting and famous sailing traditions but it would be too much to tell about each one and there is also another cool section I like to write about: The KUS rituals.
One of the most famous ritual is the silent minute before each meal, which is important when you life together with 49 persons in a small area.
Sometimes it is getting a little bit louder: We always celebrate the birthdays of each crew member with cake and birthday songs. On the birthday of our teacher and temporary project manager Christian we had a special running gag: He said that he does not like it when someone sings for him, so we sang birthday songs every time we saw him, the whole day long. Also an example is that every time Paul is mess steward, we have to listen to the worst imaginable music in the galley.
Then there are our personal rituals that are different from person to person. Most of us write their journal every evening, read a book or talk to each other in the mess or library. Some of us drink a cup of coffee or a special tea every morning. The boatswain for example takes his eleven o’clock break every day. There are also some students who like to be woken up with a silly question, to make sure that they are really awake.
The other big part of my report are of course on the running gags. In this case the problem is that most of them are German puns, in which we make fun of each other’s dialects and speech behaviors. Also we love it never forgetting a stupid question. For example, after it was said hundreds of times that we are allowed to sleep in the mess, Detlef asked if someone still has a question. One single hand was risen, asking absolutely serious: “Are we allowed to sleep in the mess?” So since then every time someone asks for questions a KUSi shouts: “Are we allowed to sleep in the mess?!”
There are many other quotes of students and crew members we just can’t forget. One of our favorites is Captain Detlef’s “Knall Peng” that he often says when things need to go faster. One of my favorite quotes is also from Detlef: “We can only buy 50 baguettes but when we cut them in the middle we get 100!”. Of course it sounds logical but it is also a little bit cheating.
My next example is not really a running gag bit who knows what the future brings: We made a list with different characteristics where everyone could fill in the name of a crew member who he thinks fits best. For example the person who showers the longest time, the galley queen or the person with the fluffiest beard. It is interesting how fast the number of names on this list grows and how well we really know each other.
Another big part of the rituals is something that every KUS year has: The rituals around food. Of course it is forbidden, but every time you have galley service you steal a little bit while cooking. We talk a lot about food, about our favorite or most hated dishes, about what we will eat first when we come home or what we miss the most on the ship. Furthermore, meals always have priority. If a mess steward shouts “Watch out, hot and greasy!”, everyone jumps aside because he does not want to be in the way of the galley service. By now, the phrase “Watch out! Hot and greasy!” has become its own running gag.
When KUSis hear our kitchen bell they immediately begin to scream “Food!!” and run in the direction of the mess like a starving mob. When it comes to food, we do not do compromises, for one simple reason: food is great!
I hope I could give you a short insight in our life on the Thor Heyerdahl. It is difficult to summarize all the rituals and running gags from the last five month but I tried and I hope you liked it.