Stans Nautical Adventures

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ok, I give in, I'll do another blog ;-) here goes...

Aloha! from the shores of Hawaii! I've left Alaska behind (which is kinda sad, cos I went diving just before we left and it kicked arse, and I have the photos to prove it!) and I'm now on the 4th port day, after 5 days at sea (argh that was long!)

the first joyful port (Lahina, Maui) was a bloody tender (which for the uneducated of you, means the only way to get off the ship is to get onto one of the lifeboats to get to the shore, the lifeboats seat about 75 comfortably, and the ship has about 3500 souls!) fortunately, due to a mixture of cunning, wile and stuff, I managed to get the 3rd tender open for crew (oh yeah, they only let 5 crew off per tender early as "the passenger comes first"), right, the 6 of us meet up shoreside and wander off to find the dive-shop, via food, on this note I can highly recommend Quismo Sues, its kinda like subway, but better (their BLT is AMAZING)

the diving was cool as well, swam over coral and fishes and stuff :-) didn't see any turtles :-( but 2 of the others did so you may see a picture of one at some point ;-)

after the somewhat wet dive (not wearing a drysuit was wierd!) we had to race back to the ship, apparenlty it takes 15 hours to go round to the other side of the island... I'm dubious!

this was the "road to Hana" day, also on Maui but this time from Kahalui, we met at a joyful(!) 8am then wandered off the the rent a car place, all in all there were about 6 jeeps, very cool day :-) the countryside is amazing, and we saw the location for the opening scene of Jurassic Park! very cool!

I should point out at this point the road to Hana is 45 miles long... it takes about 2-3 hours to drive it, mainly because Northern Americans don't have country lanes, so we spent a long time at about 15 miles an hour as its rather windy and snakes pass-y in some parts!

we found a waterfall and decided that it'd be a really good idea to swim in it! so I can now officially say I've swam in a waterfall-pool, which rocks, we got back to the ship at about 21:00, long day!

I shall endeavour to write more often in this 'ere blog! but now you can't say I'm being slack ;-)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hello folks!

As you probably know Ive been aboard for nearly 2 weeks now, and the guy I’m replacing leaves tomorrow, time is ripe for everything to go wrong!

Its been an interesting few weeks, and has involved drinkage of some sort every night (this is a good thing!) although its also included a few early starts 06:15 for immigration, which consisted of queuing for an hour, then the US customs guy asking me if I got IDd a lot when I was drinking, and stamping a form, oh well!

The food isnt great, and fish features heavily at the staff buffet, but its edible (hell, I may even lose some weight, which cant be a bad thing!) although were allowed to eat in the passenger areas, where the food is better, and the 24 hour pizza place is not gonna be a good thing! There is also a 5* (some people argue its as good as 6*) supper club which staff can go to for $30 each, that’s GBP15 each!

Were also allowed to use the gym and swimming pools as long as we are dressed in correct attire. Apparently I cant tell that I need to wear swimming shorts in the pools myself? And were supposed to wear our name badge at all times in customer areas on our left lapel area, If I’m in the swimming pool am I supposed to stick it through my skin??

This cruise we have a fairly big group on board so theyre using the main lounge twice, once for a bollywood type thing, and today (as I’m typing infact) for a band, carnival charge them $50 an hour per technician.

Guess what! Next payday we get two payslips, one has our regular pay, and one has our pay for the groups. We get the whole $50 an hour, carnival dont take a cent! Its great! Hell of a lot better than York Uni, they should take note!!! So far weve done 6 hours, and that’s 6 hours I would otherwise have spent reading (or possibly sleeping) as I cant actually do any work on the lights that need maintaining, because the new dancers are rehearsing nearly every hour of every day!

On the subject of pay, we get holiday pay as well! Every 11 days we work, we get another days pay! That’s a monthly wage of about $2000, which isnt bad atall! All I need to do now is not spend it (not doing too well with that so far!)

Unfortunately the guy Im taking over from is leaving on medical reasons - that’s why I’m out here, rather than in the Caribbean! Apparently people request to come out to the spirit, and I can see why, but its just as cold as England here, I wanted hot and sunny! Oh well, we reposition to the Mexican Riviera via Hawaii in October, which should be fun, and I should have the rig up to near as damn it 100% by then, the guy whos leaving cant maintain stuff because of his injury, so theres some work to do!

For those of you interested this is the rig:

1 * Wholehog 2

1 * ETC Expression 3

48 * cyberlights

36 * VL2ks

120 coloram 2 scrollers

153 * source 4s

52 * Source 4 par cans

48 * cyc lights

8 * UV eclipses

Plus fiberoptics, various practicals, and 4 lasers which dont work, along with the CO2 low smoke which works, but leaves a residue on the stage, so we cant use that either! One of the 2 hasers is broken as well

The pyro is all timecoded with deadmans handle (or pickle as its seems to be called over here), We fire pyro in two shows, and 16 pieces a show, to be honest, some of it looks really tacky (the ¼*12 gerbs especially!) but the other parts look amazing so it’s a trade-off!

The stage has a 14 drop pit, a 20ish wide revolve which also has four 2.5 by 15ish wide lifts in it, its pretty impressive!

Anyway, I need to go eat!

Expect a new post soon! (but dont count on it!)


Sunday, July 02, 2006

As you probably know if you're reading this, I've left the green and slightly damp lands on England to work on the good ship

Carnival Spirit, which sails from Vancouver to Alaska at the moment, so its rather cold (like England) but not wet yet (unlike England!)

so yes everyone I've told I was going to the Carribbean - I'm a bad person. I found out I was going to the Spirit at 16:00 on Monday, and got given my flight details 3 hours later, to leave at 10:30am!

Now, as you may or may not know, Vancouver is a bloody long way away! this means two things:

1) we are 8 or 9 hours behind the UK (we change an hour on day 2 or 5 of the cruise, depending which way we're going)

2) as you have to catch 3 flights, it gives the people at the airport far too many opportunities to make it as difficult as possible for you to get to your destination

ok, that last statement is slightly unfair to the fine people at Manchester, they were very helpful, once they managed to confirm I was on the flight, I wasn't on their security pre-check-in computer because the flight was booked so late! However, for some reason best known to themselves, you cannot transfer your baggage to your connecting flight behind the scenes anymore, more on this later!

After bidding farewell to my mother, I wandered through security (no beeps! unlike everyone else in the queue, what part of "ITS A METAL DETECTOR. METAL SETS IT OFF" don't you understand! "oh, I didn't think my belt would set it off" why? why did you think that? its got a big chunk of metal on it!!!!) and made it through to the terminal 2 lounge, which has hardly any shops of note in, there is a tax free dixons, which could possibly have been useful had it been big enough to really stock anything! a starbucks, a duty free shop and one of these evil things.

currency exchanges, bureau de'change, what ever you want to call them. on the highstreet they're all helpful and nice and everything, in the airport they are EVIL. I can understand that they will charge a bit more than on the high-street, but IMHO inflating the exchange rates considerably (ok on its own) plus a 2% commission with a minimum of £3.50 is extortionate! anyway, the 8 hour flight over was very nice once we left (it was running about an hour late eventually) and I had a nice window seat with views of the big lumps of ice in the water, just to make me feel safe about where I was going! then the fun starts, I've arrived in the US of A, JFK to be precise and Delta most helpfully have the oldest terminal. this is NOT a good thing, please trust me on this. through to the immigration and customs lounge which is fairly warm and somewhat dingy (I'd expected bright white lights so they could see the faces of every single one of us) got through immigration & customs without too many problems, then the super-duper amazingly special fun started...

You would think, would you not, that Delta airport staff, would have at least SOME idea of where I needed to recheck-in my bags for another Delta flight. well, apparenlty that would be far too convenient and helpful. after getting past customs I was directed upstairs to check in as I already had a boarding card, rather than to the other, somewhat shorter looking queue. once upstairs, I got told "no, you've been sent to the wrong queue, you need to cross the walkway to the international queue". after navigating my way past a NYC cop*, who's job appeared to be to yell "Keep Moving!" and blowing his whistle every sodding minute.

Having waited for about half an hour, and the queue was still nowhere near a door, a member of airport staff with an IQ higher than 5 came past and informed me that, although I could check in at the international desk for a flight to Canada, the domestic desk was fine as well, and probably shorter! so back across the road (and still shouting cop. I mean WHY?)

More queueing, more frantic looking at time, more queueing, more queueing... I finally get to the desk with my bags and get told "put your bags on, quickly! you nearly missed check-in time." It took rather alot of self restraint to not rant about how if they had just transferred the bags across in the first place it wouldn't have been a problem!!!

anyway, the flight itself was nice, after we got out of the queue of over 30 aircraft to take off! eventually we did, then lo and behold after an hour, Toronto appeared! I got to the customs & immigration checkpoint, got a big pink squiggle across my form for a visa, and went to wait in the queue for immigration. The fairly long queue, with my check-in time getting nearer and nearer (oh yes folks, I have to transfer my bags here too, although to be fair it is one hell of alot easier!)

finally get through immigration, collect my bags and give them to the guy at the baggage transfer desk who promises they will get to the flight in time, and tells me where to run for check-in. I get to check in at 21:55, due to the lovely (yes, thats right) queue I got to the desk at 10:01. "check in just closed for your flight sir" "is there any way you can get me on?" turns out yes! that woman is great! long live her etc! although she did tell me the flight was boarding, so I ran all the way (with a small break to queue at security, where Mr "my belt contains metal?" struck again) only to find the flight was still disembarking. But she got me on the flight, so she's alright.

a 5 hour flight later, a rather knackered version of my usual self arrived, no customs this time - WOOOOOO!!!!!


hang on. no bags either. they're still in toronto. they think. Well, they aren't sure. they can't find them. great!

fantastic! fan-bloody-marvelous!

finally get to the hotel which is very, very nice. double bed, nice ensuite etc etc, oh, and about CA$40 in meal vouchers for a Italian restaurant around the corner, didn't get time to eat in it mind but I'm sure it would have been very nice, it looked it!

anyway, I finally got to the ship around 12ish, got asked about 20 times "is that all you brought" by other members of crew joining the ship and found my cabin! its quite nice, on the "posh" desk and one of the better ones, but as I'm sure your all bored whitless now, that is of course assuming still reading this quadswallop, if you are - congratulations!

future blogs may be more interesting, but I doubt it!

I've decided to finish with a moral of the story here. and the moral of this story is this: If you are flying to anywhere in

the USA or have to fly via the USA, AVOID JFK if at all possible. ESPECIALLY avoid JFK if you're flying with Delta!

interesting fact of the blog: I mentioned the word queue 13 times. don't do JFK! your sanity may depend on it!

*referred to as cop out of a newfound level of respect for the British Policeman (Oh, sorry, am I not being politi-fucking-correct enough? British Police Officer? will that do???)