To new horizons

Internship aboard the Thor is something like enjoying a relaxed day with hardly any work and no watch? Or do you rather have the opposite in mind, where you do boring, monotonous jobs as an intern? What is really behind the internships on the Thor? Which ones are there, and what is it like to work as an intern? In this blog, I am going to explain everything about that topic.

In school at home, internships should serve above all the purpose of vocational orientation. That is, you are given the chance to learn about the job market and to get a taste of what certain professions and companies are like, so that it will be easier for you later to decide on a job. Here in our home on the Thor, the internships are a nice chance to get an insight into professional fields of activity on a traditional sailing ship. They are a way to help out, get involved, work independently and learn practical skills. What you experience ranges from hanging in the rigging at a height of more than 25 meters to storing 350 litres of milk, depending on which internship you choose: with the engineer, the boatswain or the provision masters.

The engineer is not only responsible for our main engine, but also for all the pumps (there are many and different types of pumps), the wastewater tanks, the generators which produce our electricity, the osmosis which produces our water and the fire extinguishing systems. Our engineer Willi explained to me how the main engine or the different pumps work. Since our engine is open, you can see the cylinder heads and imagine much better how the process of turning fuel into energy works. When you can’t imagine something or you don’t understand something in detail, then Willi makes you dismantle the part. You take the part in your hand and get a more detailed explanation. After you have developed a general understanding of the various machines aboard, you start to perform the day-to-day tasks that come with keeping the ship functional. These range from flushing the holding tanks to painting, greasing the steering gear or turning the generator on and off.

Responsible for the rigging and all the other repair work that does not concern the engineer is the boatswain. This includes sewing sails, woodwork and managing safety in the rig, for instance by checking the safety lines. You learn sewing stitches for sailcloth, for leather but also for normal fabric. Another thing you do is grinding and painting wood. If painting doesn’t work the first time, because the surface was not clean enough, you practice until you get it right. With the boatswain internship, you also get to climb a lot as you grease leather that is in the rig and check if anything is broken up there. You learn a lot, especially by starting without any clue, failing and then succeeding.

The provision masters plan the food and stow the provisions. They make the meal plans and have an overview over where everything is. There are three different rooms where the provisions are stored: The dry storage, the freezer room and the cold storage. These rooms must be kept clean, the food checked and, if necessary, sorted out.

I got to know all of those tasks pretty well in my internship with our provision masters Oli and Paula. During my internship, I baked bread together with all three other interns from the other two areas. This is part of every internship aboard the Thor. We made four loads of bread throughout the day. That’s a total of 64 breads, enough for five days, so we bake about two times a week. I worked in the galley as well, because the plans had changed and no one else could find time to replace the missing person there. Nothing special happened, only the normal galley insanity. I baked a cheesecake there alone, which was very tricky because of the swell. But at the end of the day the cake was very delicious, and everyone liked it. Apart from that, I also sorted through and repacked our provisions for hours, prepared the ingredients for the galley of the next day and started inventorying our freezer room. During that process, I also sorted vegetables and gave them a wipe to avoid mould. I sorted and wiped 93 oranges, 391 apples and 587 bananas in 8 hours that day. This may sound quite boring, but on the one hand it was very satisfying because you could see a clear before and after effect in the freezer room.  On the other hand, while working I talked to our provisions master Oli about arriving back home, which has become more and more of an issue.  We talked not only about family, friends or plans, but also about eating (which is always an issue). About where and what we want to eat first back home in Germany. About being able to reach into the fridge, grab something and eat it. About what to cook or treat yourself with. You see, even rather boring or repetitive tasks can be fun with the right attitude, and you can learn something about other crew members of this big crazy family aboard the Thor. So, internships are just about creating motivation and more interest for the areas you work in? Obviously, they are not for us, as they are an important part of our everyday life aboard. You learn something but have fun at the same time. You learn how to bake bread and see the results of your work at breakfast and lunch. You fix a lamp and see directly what you have accomplished. By this, you do not only get new skills, but learn more about yourself.