how to survive cabin fever
by Jessica Miller
May 22, 2008
Sari, our international project leader (and my occasional cabin mate), takes a break on the ship for a game of "cabin ball".
Life on the Esperanza has been pretty mellow lately since we’ve been in transit. When we’re not busy doing actions it can become frustrating because the days can get very monotonous. I hit a mental wall recently when I realised I am totally stuck on this ship and not getting off soon. I’d love to to go for a long walk but there’s only so many times you can walk around the deck before you start feeling dizzy or someone gives you a job!
One evening, out of sheer boredom I invented a game with an inflatable ball, which has turned out to be a much loved recreational activity for some of us. It’s like volleyball only the ball ricochets off the sides of my cabin and players must keep it off the floor. Some have frowned at the idea but once they start playing it they don’t want to stop. The only problem is that it makes a lot of noise and tends to send other items flying around the cabin so I am on the lookout for a better location.
When I have time I love standing at the bow and watching the waves. Sometimes hundreds of flying fish rise up out of the water all at once and glide over the surface ahead of our ship for an astonishing distance before disappearing into the big blue. I’m always hoping to see dolphins but I haven’t been as lucky as some of the crew – yet. We’ve seen quite a few birds too and even had a brown footed booby stay with us for 2 days. I was delighted to have an animal on board but the deck crew weren’t happy about it at all. By the time the booby left I realised why… the deck underneath the mast at the bow was totally covered in bird poo.
Living and working on board is very different to being on land. Each day, before anyone starts their job – the toilets, showers, alleyways, mess, laundry and lounge all need to be cleaned and everyone is expected to share these duties. On Saturdays we give everything a special, big clean. Sakyo signed up to do the showers last Saturday while I was scrubbing the alleyways. The drains needed to be opened up and this brought out the most disgusting smell I have ever come across. I had to try really hard not resurrect my cheese toastie but Sakyo went right inside one of the showers and closed the door in order to give it a good clean. I thought he might actually die in there and was about to attempt a rescue operation when he surprisingly came out by himself – looking a dodgy shade of green I might add. If anyone is thinking of working on board a Greenpeace ship – my advice to you would be to avoid cleaning showers on Saturdays – at all costs.
Lately I’ve had a craving for orange juice but haven’t seen any since I arrived on board so I went to ask the cook with the cutest face I could possibly muster and managed to get my hands on some grapefruit juice (a triumph in itself!). As I poured myself a cup of liquid gold I immediately attracted several other crew members towards me like honeybees to nectar. It’s funny how so many things that you take for granted on land suddenly end up being a treasured rarity at sea. Last night I opened up the fridge and found a bottle of organic orange juice in there. I felt like I had won the jackpot on a slot machine! Perhaps there is an orange juice fairy on board who has finally granted me a wish I have been silently making every morning.
Another treat we had was when the folks on board from Japan and Korea made an Asian feast. I pitched in and Sakyo showed me how to make vegetarian sushi. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought and we managed over 30 long rolls with different fishless fillings. The crew absolutely loved it and the cook enjoyed a well deserved evening off.
The ship has been getting a makeover while we’ve been on the move – and a lot of new paint has gone on (obviously it’s important to look good while saving the planet!) but now we’re all gearing up for action again. As I write this the paintbrushes are being packed away and Dingo, our helicopter pilot, is pulling the covers off Tweety.
I’d better go and get ready