Life and Work on the Poop Deck

by Guest Blogger

December 1, 2005

It’s around 8 p.m., and the evening is winding down. We’ve got a following sea, so the ship is riding pretty smooth right now. In a following sea, the poop deck is the place to be, as you can watch the waves come up on us, and loom high above before our stern kicks up and we take the wave under us. Until the last minute it doesn’t LOOK like that’s going to happen. If the wave is large enough and you’re going slow enough, it CAN indeed come crashing down onto the deck from above, which was referred to as "being pooped", a lovely expression.

Fortunately, the waves are large but not that large or fast enough to poop us. But if the wave is not dead on astern, we get sent lurching and slicing down its side, often taking water across the deck over the scuppers. Every time we get sent rolling to one side it’s a sure bet we’ll rock almost as far the other way, so water comes aboard on one side, runs the deck like a pack of crazed pigs and dumps out the scuppers on the other side: if you happen to be out on the deck when that happens, if you aren’t quick enough to hop on top of something on deck you’ll end up with deck boots full of icy water. The poop deck is used a lot since it connects to so many active work areas on board, and we’ve been at sea long enough that pretty much everyone knows the distinctive sound of water coming over the side. It’s a common scene to see folks choosing to work or move near something they can hop on top of when the water comes for a visit.

This morning while Jetske and I were sorting and stomping cans for recycling (she’s our on-board "garbologist" – I’ll explain that some other time) we sliced hard into a wave. I was heading into the ‘wetroom’ (the room just off the poop deck that serves as a workshop and portal between the dry areas and the deck) when I heard her yelp in surprise and looked back to see a wall of water and the can bucket in mid-flight. At first I was deeply concerned she might have got swept over board (under captain’s orders no one is allowed to work out on any deck alone due to sea conditions), but the water cleared and there she stood, one hand on a tight line, fully doused from head to toe in near-freezing seawater, among a constellation of smashed aluminum. We ran around and chased up the loose cans like a hockey team down by a point in the final minute, saving them from being swept overboard, just managing to wrangle them into the bin before she went in for a change of clothes.

– Nathan

(photo ©Greenpeace/Sutton-Hibbert)

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