Culture on board

Date: 20th December 2020
Position: 28° 02,9’ N, 016° 43,5’ W

What is culture? It is not visible and it becomes nothing if you try to grab it. But there are some categories that are commonly used to describe this mysterious phenomenon: art, music, traditions, rituals. This culture spirit comes from within every one of us but also from the surrounding. Our new home, a traditional sailing ship, brings its very own culture. On the Thor Heyerdahl there are lots of ways to be creative and as many talented people. Many of us play an instrument, some can draw excellently and others are really good in creating something from wood, cloth or paper. When we first met, totally different styles, tastes and ideas came together. Some of us found a new hobby or talent here. Many wanted to get to know or learn something new from others.

For example, we all have our own music that we normally hear. But here on the Thor we listen to the music of our fellows during galley duty or clear ship and get to know new genres. After a time, you like the music of the others and you often borrow someone’s MP3 player. But much more important is actually to produce and enjoy self-made music. So many evenings several people gather in the messroom around songbooks. Some of them play guitar and the others sing or hum along. Sometimes you also hear a freshly composed melody or lines of a song in progress. Notes and lyrics play an important role for most of us. Besides Thursday and Sunday, Saturday is a special day in our week. The day is filled with old and younger traditions. It starts with cleaning the ship even more intensive than on the other days. Afterwards there is an assembly on the quarter deck. Everyone finds a place to sit and listen to our Capitan Detlef. He gives us information about the weather and our route for the next days. When Detlef has finished, we stay aft to watch the lost-and-found auction. (In the cargo hold, there is a box where everything that has been found can be collected. If the owner does not look into the box and takes his stuff, it is put up for auction at the end of the week.) This is always a very amusing time due to a funny moderation and absurd situations. Lights, socks, hats or pens find their old or new master here. The money is for sea rescues so you can spend a lot of money on really unnecessary items. It is followed by an old tradition called Besanschotan, that takes only place when we are at sea. The music workshop performs a melancholic song and an ensemble of stunning voices sings the Scottish shanty Loch Lomond. After that the time has come, our Capitan, Detlev, brings a toast and one after one all get a glass with juice or a rum shot.

In the evening we have dinner together. Every meal is prepared and served by the people of the galley duty. When we have gathered the cooks present their work and ring a bell. The bell is a signal for a silent minute. In these seconds you can close your eyes and relax. You have the opportunity to reflect the day or think about life until the bell rings again. Together we start to eat and then wait for further announcements.

Saturday always ends with a movie night. A small team presents three different films and we choose one of it. Before the film starts the photo team often presents its newest work like videos or a photo collection. When the messroom or the deck is prepared, everyone has a place and snacks wander around – the film can start.

Sometimes one decides to create a cultural contribution. This can be everything: a poem, piano music, a picture, a story or a sketch. We have heard several poems, have seen a painting, could listen to bar music and enjoyed a reading. It happens that someone comes to late to his watch or damages a part of the ship. Then you have the honor to become creative. Another more seldom event is the Board Bistro. A team of ambitious people organizes a special evening. Our last Bistro evening was called “Café ab in den Süden”. It was November and cold outside but everything was planned perfectly to cause summer vibes. The messroom was decorated and filled with music. Simon our boatswain even brought a heater, so that the messroom was really warm. We were not allowed to wear skiing underwear but had to come in summerly clothes. The galley had prepared a festive meal of pizza and pasta salad. Everyone was excited and looked forward to more southern regions. A few people even danced on the rate space enthusiastically to the music. When we had finished eating the evening continued with playing games, talking and sitting together.

On board we understand ourselves as one strong community, called the KUSis. We live, eat, learn and laugh together. It is important to respect each other and trust your fellows. When you are sad you will find someone who comforts you, when you are overwhelmed someone will help you and when you are happy someone will share your joy. When we first came on the Thor Heyerdahl we were thrown in a new world full of unknown events and strange rituals. Now we are familiar to the live on board and we all bring something new in the community and culture.