|Home Biography People Places Multimedia: Making It Work On the Water Writings/Presentations|
Read complete log as PDF
November 7, 1963, Thursday
Gross Tonnage: 7143
Net Tonnage: 4010
Agent: General Steamship Co.
Westfal-Larsen Line, Bergen, Norway
Route: San Francisco, down the western coast of South Am. Through the Straits of Magellan, up the east coast, the Panama Canal, to San Francisco. The ship travels at roughly 16 knots.
I boarded in Stockton, Calif. This morning at 10:00 AM and began work immediately. I am a maskingutt, or engine boy – the lowest paid employee on board ship at 50+ dollars per month.
The men on the ship are for the most part Norwegian and I would say that one in three has a working knowledge of English. I had hoped that Norwegian would be similar enough to German that I might understand a minimum, but I find that I can understand nothing at all. The language seems too smooth and combines syllables and words too fluently allow one such as myself any understanding. I have, however, met an interesting Aussie, a Brian Dunn (typical, it seems to me is his name), who is in much the same boat as myself as far as language goes (no pun intended).
My cabin is situated as the first cabin on the first level below decks forward and starboard. It normally is occupied by two oilers or engine boys, but by some system of protocol it was given to me alone. I couldn’t be better off, it seems to me, as the cabin is far larger than I had expected and living here alone I enjoy combined benefits. The cabin is amply supplied with closet space, a dresser, two bunks, bookcase, and a small couch which could easily sleep one person. Most of all, however, are the two portholes which I am sure will be welcome south of the Equator as it is summertime there during these months. Across the hall is a “water closet” and down the hall a set of showers. Up one deck is a sitting room and “game room” for the crew.
I went to work at 10:30 AM this morning, my first task being to scrub the engine room floor (that is, a portion of it far in a corner) with gasoline, the universal solvent of the engine room. I then cleaned the “Separator Room” where the oil is refined in a series of six separators to be reused; and by this time it was noon, time for dinner.
The crew eats in the crew’s mess, separated from the passengers and officers. There seems, well enough, no distinction between deck crew and engine crew as I have seen on such ships as M/S Barranduma and M/S/ Thor I. The food is eaten cafeteria style, and I must admit that I was dissapoint3ed in its quality. I had been led to expect more by a Miss Rassmunssen of General Steamship Co. in San Francisco with whom I had discussed my forthcoming trip… She perhaps had been “at the front of the bus,” eating with the Captain and Officers.
The afternoon work shift is broken at three o’clock for ½ hour for “Tea” and supper ends the work day at 5:00. One normally begins work at 7:00 AM, working until breakfast at 8:00, etc. etc., thus leaving the evenings free.
Taking advantage of the early evening hours I visited the local roadhouse three blocks from the pier where I was entertained in a game of dice by a Norse A.B. and where I purchased a dozen cans of beer – a commodity I well plan to consume sparingly. It is my understanding that the possession of alcoholic bev. On board by crew is discouraged by the Captain and 1st Engineer, while it is encouraged by the crew members themselves.
We have been loading with general cargo bound for varied ports in South America. Stockton is really an ironical sort of port. Fresh water, flat land, corn fields and truck farms – it is deposited in the middle of a plain. In the morning, at 0500 we “set sail” for Alameda in San Francisco – Oakland Bay and tentatively will depart for Long Beach, California Saturday evening.
Read complete log as PDF