A day on board the Thor Heyerdahl – our new home

I am lying in my bed; my eyes are closed and I am thinking – but stop. This is not my bed. It’s smaller and … it’s moving. Forward, backward, forward, backward.

It is my bunk. I open my eyes and look on the other side of the room where I can see lots of shelves packed full with clothes, shoes, books and things for hygiene. There are five other bunks in my room and every bunk looks different. There are pictures of family and friends pinned at the walls and on the ground are about 15 pairs of shoes. So, this is my new sleeping room which I share with five other girls I didn’t know 14 days ago. I stand up and try to move quietly to the door. A few of my room mates are still sleeping, but when I come to the corridor I hear voices from everywhere. Here, somebody is always awake – indeed the Thor Heyerdahl never sleeps.

I enter the mess room and the voices become louder. There is the smell of coffee, tea, bread and fruits in the air and when I sit down one of today’s mess stewards asks me if I would like to have a cup of tea/ coffee or a bowl of fruit salad. That’s a nice habit here. You are served by the mess stewards and that’s really needed, because otherwise there would be about 50 people looking for the things they want to eat and drink and that would end in a complete chaos. In the beginning, it was kind of strange to have breakfast with so many other people, because if you are used having breakfast with only four other persons, it is very confusing if there is the tenfold number of people around you.

After breakfast most watches do “clear ship”. That means for every watch to tidy up and clean one section of the ship – which is a lot! There are the sections sanitary, the companionway and the mess room, the cargo-hold and the deck. The dimensions here are very different from home, but working together makes it easier and much funnier. For example, there are the red buckets, dusters and rubber gloves which are very helpful if you want the others to go out of your way. This sounds probably a bit crazy – but it helps, because “red” is the colour for everything that has to do something with the toilet. Generally, we have different colours for dusters and buckets for the different sections. In my last section – the sanitary – one of the most wanted colours were blue or green, which are meant to clean for walls and washbasins. Probably now everyone understands why red isn’t as popular as these two colours.

Cleaning makes us hungry, so by now it’s time to have lunch. Every day one member of each watch has to do mess duty – this means we have to cook for fifty hungry persons. If you have mess duty you have to stand up very early to prepare breakfast and you have to stay in the galley until late in the evening. The reason for this is that one thing you must do there is to cook, the other thing – which is probably even more exhausting than cooking – is to wash the dishes from the whole crew. It’s really fascinating how many ingredients you need for a “normal” meal in comparison to at home. For example: If we want to cook only pasta with sauce we need about 10kg of noodles and 5-6 kg of tomatoes (+ vegetables and/ or minced meat). In fact, most times the food is pretty good, although there are students who have never cooked more than a cup of tea before. That’s why, I think after one day mess duty every mess steward can be proud of his/ her achievement at that day!

After eating I have one hour of free time – however, this isn’t as long as it sounds, because here on the Thor you have always something to do. An extra job for which I am responsible is for example to do the general washing – so the towels and dusters of the sanitary and the galley. That’s not really time-consuming but these little jobs are increasing and faster than you think, your free time is already over.

It’s time to go to my watch now and to put on my Jacket and my sailing trousers. We have 6 hours watch each day which is divided into three hours during the day and three hours during the night. Our duties are – as well as steering – to go the safety and machine round. There, you have to look for unusual “things”. For example, if there is water in the bilge or if everything is ok in the engine room. Generally, at that time we are responsible for the whole ship.

So, as you can see I changed my life completely:
I changed my sleeping room and my bed for two shelves and a bunk.
I changed my living area from land to water.
I changed my classroom for a ship.
I changed my loved family for 49 – at first unknown – persons who have the same wishes as me.
I changed everything for the adventure of my life and now this adventure is beginning.