South Pacific

Lost In Translation

Typing on the computer while sipping hot chocolate is approximately 18 times more difficult when you are on a sail boat. Nonetheless, each of us took up this task once or twice on the trip, to let our family and friends know that we were indeed alive. By posting a blog post we managed to indicate that we had managed to figure out (mostly) how to sail and had made it to our ports of call (mostly) in one piece. Every day a new student or crew member would write a post, so here is one of mine!

SSV Robert C. Seamans

Most activities come with their own unique set of vocabulary. Be it the cries of line cooks in a burger joint, the hand signals of professional baseball players, or the forever mysterious guttural mutterings of Newfoundlanders, newcomers to different experiences often brush up against the time old “language barrier.” While most students have been struggling with French here on Wallis, my Canadian citizenship has allowed to me to cruise by with relative ease (sea pun count: 1). I’‘ve spent the last few days ordering croques monsieurs and laughing derisively about “those Americans” (sorry guys). I thought I had foiled the system, but my smugness would cost me and prove that indeed all the students are in the same boat (pun count: 2). Turns out I have not been immune to The Barrier because, of course, the ship also has her own set of words and expressions.

If you're not cooking or sailing you're in the lab!

If you’re not cooking or sailing you’re in the lab!

This morning I had the 0300-0700 watch. During this time the Steward prepares breakfast with some help from those on watch. I easily mixed the orange juice, set out the plates, and rang the breakfast triangle, all the while happy as a clam (3, is this out of hand yet? nah). Then comes the Captain’s special breakfast. Some sort of egg white omelette, Sayzie asked that I put it in the window. Well, who am I to mess with the Captain’’s breakfast? I obligingly take it over to the window, trying to decide which port hole she means before settling on the one closest to the head of the starboard table where he usually sits. I grab some breakfast and head on deck, congratulating myself on a job well done.

Man o' war that nearly got me.

Man o’ war that nearly got me.

Little did I know pandemonium had broken out below. The Captain’’s breakfast was gone. Missing? Stolen?! Consumed by the mythical rat king, rumored to scurry unnoticed below? This special breakfast always goes in the window! Sayzie was sure I had placed it in the window. As those below contemplated how it had disappeared their heads turned slowly in unison to the port holes before they erupted into laughter.

Apparently the ‘window’ is actually this little space in the galley, which I assure you does not resemble any sort of window and I maintain that really they should put the Captain’‘s food in the port hole where it can lead a happily little life watching the sunrise and contemplating his small eggy existence. These sailors seem pretty stuck in their way however, so I guess I’ll just have to keep translating the French and others can keep translating mariner.

Sea ya later folks (hee hee 4).


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