LIVE from the Pacific #2: How to Live at Sea for 3 Months
by Kelly Huang
May 12, 2021
Life at sea for a Greenpeace campaigner has its challenges but it's all part of protecting the ocean.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am from Taiwan, where we have over 200 peaks higher than 3000 meters. My favorite pastimes are hiking and climbing in the mountains. For the first time in my life I’m spending three months at sea with 24 crew and campaign team members from different countries, living on the same ship. From time to time, strong waves and swells hit. Not only do we have to deal with seasickness, we also need to clean and work when it’s rocking and rolling…
Let’s talk about seasickness
At the moment when I was writing this blog, the ship was rolling a lot. Although everyone is full of spirit to carry out our mission, when it comes to seasickness, no matter how strong you are, many can hardly resist the power of nature. The Medic onboard is Loes, who specializes in Emergency Medicine. In addition to taking care of the hospital on board, she also gives us tips on dealing with seasickness.
Everyone has their own way to fight seasickness. Most people need to stay outdoors and breathe fresh air. I took a breathing lesson just before joining this journey. I learned to adjust my breathing to increase the energy in my body, which came in handy. Some people chew gum or lie down and rest. I also take seasickness pills when the ship is rolling a lot. For example, when I’m writing I need to look at the screen constantly. Only by taking seasickness pills and/or intermediate breaks could I work for a prolonged period of time on my computer.
We encountered big waves and swells on our way to the deep sea mining site. The Captain said that this rolling of the ship was only 6 on a scale from 1 to 10. When this big wave hit, I was helping the Chef to clean up the kitchen, and all of a sudden, pots, bowls and the leftovers on the table were all over the floor! We also rolled from one end of the kitchen to the other. Fortunately, we grabbed the handrails, and that saved our lives. It definitely wouldn’t have been fun to fall towards the iron wall.
We are all sleeping on bunk beds, and I’m the one on the upper bunk. In order to secure me from falling off the bed when the ship was rolling, the First Mate Adrian tilted my bed towards the wall, and so I sleep on just one side of the bed. It was very difficult to sleep. I woke up a lot during my sleep, but at least I didn’t fall off the bed and injure myself.
I also noticed that caffeine made my seasickness worse, so I gave up the habit of having a cup of coffee every day, and my Taiwanese Oolong tea. Fortunately, there are juices and my own barley tea and rooibos tea to quench my thirst.
How to feed 25 people for 3 months?
Our onboard Chef is French, and her name is Laurence. She has excellent cooking skills and uses vegetables and other organic and healthy ingredients. In addition to bread, rice, and pasta, there are also quinoa, couscous, and lentils. Also, every meal contains various combinations of salads. I asked to be an assistant in the galley one time and learned to make beetroot salad. This is my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn French cooking!
Cooking on the ship is hard. From time to time the Campaign team is invited by the Captain to make dinner. While cooking, we have to take care of the pots and pans in the galley as the ship rolls. We also have to clean the kitchen after the meal, collect food waste, and sort the garbage. It is not easy to feed 25 people. In addition to cooking, the Chef is also responsible for cleaning. Therefore, Greenpeace ships have Assistant Cooks, mostly young volunteers, who go on board to assist with cooking.
To feed 25 people on board for three months, another big task is the provision. We took two provisions for this trip, one in Curacao, the starting point, and another in Panama, while waiting to pass the Canal. We seized these rare opportunities to get fresh ingredients. As soon as the provisions arrived, everyone helped. It took 2-3 hours to unpack, inventory, organize and store. It was the first time I unpacked so much food one day. As we are now 2 months into the trip, we have to make the best use of the remaining veggies and ripe fruits by making pizza, fried rice, or fruit ice creams ourselves!
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This blog is a part of an ongoing series, “LIVE from the Pacific.”