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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Unexpected Journey - 3. UJ Chapter 3

Once we had set out our sleeping bags, pillows, and put away our luggage, Kristof began to show us around the rest of the ship, starting with the lower decks first. When we returned to the main deck, we saw another crew member talking to some other trainees.

“Alrik, this is my first two team members, Matias and Curtis from Australia, lads, this is the senior Bosun, Alrik” Kristof said, as we approached the man, who looked a lot younger than Kristof, and I heard Kristof chuckle, “Yes he is quite young to be senior Bosun, but he has a lot more years of experience than me” Kristof said, and I just nodded my head in understanding.

By 0915, all the 40 trainees were onboard and had been divided into two teams, and we gathered in the main dining mess for the introduction meeting.

“Good morning, I am your skipper, Karl Ericson. By now you should have been split into two teams, with one bosun leading each team, while on this ship you will be on Watch duty, of which there are four of them. Let me introduce Laris, who will lead the 1st watch, from which is 1100 to 1900 hours, next is Finn, he will lead the 2nd watch from 1900 to 0300 hours.

Kristof, these will be your two teams. The 3rd watch is led by Oscar, and is from 0300 to 1100 hours, while 4th watch will be led by Soeren, and will be on watch from 1100 to 1900 hours tomorrow, which are your team Alrik. For your own health and safety, all trainees must obey all commands given to you by your Watch Leader or Bosun, they will be the liaison between the senior crew and yourself.

There is a total of 18 permanent crew onboard, of which there are 4 Galley crew, 4 Officers, 2 Bosuns, 4 Watch Leaders and 4 Deckhands, who are all here to assist you to learn while onboard this magnificent ship.

As stated early by a crew member, in front of two trainees, this ship is not a tub, and anyone caught referring her as a tub, will receive severe punishment, is that understood” the Captain said, and I gave Curtis a light nudge with my elbow, before we responded, “Yes sir”.

“I didn’t hear you? Do you understand?” the Captain said, and this time, all the trainees responded, as we had done. “Good, now let’s prepare to set sail, we have a schedule to keep,” the Captain said, and immediately after, “All Hands, prepare to set sail” Bosun Alrik shouted at the top of his lungs, which made a few trainees jump in fright.

“Trainees, watch the deckhands closely, as you will be doing the same as them over the next few days” Kristof added, as we watched the deckhands and Alrik head up the rigging. “Any volunteers to give it a try?” Kristof asked, and I immediately stepped forward, and I was the only one to do so.

“Alrik, trainee Matias is coming to join you” Kristof shouted, as I was led to the rigging, and began the climb, which was quite tricky to master, and before long I was about twenty metres above the deck, and I was assisting with unfurling the sails.

“Wow, what a view,” I said when I was standing on the top of the mast, beside Alrik.

“You have done this before?” Alrik asked me, “Only on a Schooner the other day, but it has no rigging to get up this high” I responded.

“Well it shows that you have the knowledge and courage to get this high up, so early in the sail” Alrik said to me, as he began to show me how to untie the straps that keep the sails in place, and soon, the sails dropped down and filled with the wind, as we increased speed right away.

Once back on the deck, I was suddenly facing to face with the skipper. “Well done Matias, but next time, make sure you put a harness on when going up top,” the Skipper said, “Yes sir” I responded, as I noticed him frown at Kristof for making that mistake.

Curtis and I were on the second watch, so straight after lunch, we were ordered to hit our bunks to get some sleep, and to be up again at 1800 hours for dinner, before starting our first watch on the ship, which gave us about 4 hours of sleep, and I was surprised at how easy it was to get to sleep, while Curtis didn’t look like he had slept much, when it was time to get up.

During our watch shift, we took it in turns to be at the helm, and I assisted the deckhand with trimming the sails, which in the dark, as a little harder than I expected. When our shift finished at 0300, we had a snack, before heading to bed, and this time, Curtis was asleep very quickly, while I read the ships operation manual for about half an hour, before turning in.

At 0900 hours, after just 5 ½ hours of sleep, Kristof woke us both up and told us to shower and get ready for a new day, and I let Curtis have the bathroom first, as I noticed that he looked a lot better this morning, so he must have slept well, as I had done also.

So far, I had been the only one that had gone up the rigging, and I did that twice during the watch shift, so I was not sure if any of my watch teammates were keen on climbing the rigging, as all ten of us, sat down for some Brunch, and I noticed that some looked like they were having trouble sleeping, while others looked fine.

In our watch group, we had one guy from New Zealand, three from Singapore, two from Wales and two from Canada, so we were very mixed of nations, and as someone in the group pointed out, we were all from Commonwealth nations.

Our next watch shift was at 0300 the next morning, so we had a full day of work to do, before then, and in that time, we were given lessons on knots, and sailing terminology, which Curtis and I were up to date with, as was our New Zealand teammate – Tipene, which is Maori for Stephen.

We learnt that Tipene, or Tip for short, had won a writing competition, where the prize is this trip on the ship, and he explained to us that he often went out fishing with his grandfather on his outrigger canoe, and loved to just sail more than fishing.

He is the same age as Curtis and I, having just completed year 11 in high school, and he was not sure what he wanted to do for his future but hoped that it had something to do with sailing.

We had reached Copenhagen in just over 28 hours, but Mum was not there to greet us, so while we had a look around the Danish capital, I sent a text to Mum. ‘In Copenhagen, the trip is a real blast, I am enjoying every minute of it. Curtis has been up to the rigging, but he doesn’t like it much, so he spends more time at the helm. In Copenhagen for six hours, next stop east coast of Sweden. Love Matias’.

‘Glad that you are having a good time, I have been held up in Sponvika, take care, Mum’ came a response a few moments later, and I smiled.

Curtis had managed to climb the rigging on day three, but he was not too keen on it and asked to remain on deck, as he didn’t feel good, when upon the rigging, so Kristof gave him other duties, including spending more time at the helm. We arrived in the port town of Nynashamn, Sweden, which is about 50 kilometres south of Stockholm, in the early morning of day four, and we spent four hours looking around the town before we had to set off once again.

We arrived in the port city of Gavle, Sweden just in the mid-afternoon on day 5, and again we were able to spend 4 hours exploring the town, before we set off again, just as the sun was setting.

For the first week of our adventure, we had all learnt a lot about sailing, and by this time I had earned the nickname of Monkey, as I was so good at climbing the rigging. We arrived in the port city of Oulu, Finland in the late afternoon, on day 8, where we are near the very top of the Gulf of Bothnia, and we only had two hours to explore the city before it was dark.

At 0900 the following morning, we set sail again, heading south now, with our destination being Helsinki, Finland, which would take approximately 3 days to complete the journey, but we had a drop in the wind during the night after leaving Oulu, and we were barely travelling at 4 knots, which is half the speed that we have been averaging for most of the journey.

After a very long three days and 8 hours, we finally arrived in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, in the late afternoon, and we had about two hours to have a quick look around the city before dark, and we had been promised a further two hours, after we complete a 4 hour half day sail, for 16 disadvantaged teenagers, which had been part of the schedule of the journey.

The teenagers and 4 adult minders, would be joining us at 0800 hours, and we would be sailing south through the Gulf of Finland, to just before the halfway mark to Estonia, before turning back, and returning to Helsinki. After saying farewell to the teenagers, who appeared to have had a wonderful time onboard the ship, we set sail, shortly after 1300 hours, for the last stage of our journey.

With favourable weather, we would be arriving in St Petersburg at about 1100 hours tomorrow morning, and our team would have the final watch, from 0300 to 1100 hours. I had become quite used to the strange hours of sleeping and working on the ship, we averaged between 6 to 8 hours of sleep each day, which was plenty for me, but poor Curtis was sometimes struggling with the late-night shifts.

As we came into the harbour, now under engine power, most of our team and the deckhands were up top, pulling up the sails, and once done, Kristof, Tip and I remained up top as we came alongside the yacht club wharf, with the skipper and Curtis at the helm.

Once we were tied up, we saw some official looking men board the ship, “Oh, we better get down on the deck, that is Customs and Border control officers, they don’t like wasting time” Kristof said to us, and we began the slow climb down the rigging.

About halfway down we heard shouting in what I presumed was Russian, coming from the main deck, and I stopped to see what all the ruckus was about, and the Rushing Border patrol officers were telling us to hurry up.

Soon after that, the skipper began shouting back at the border patrol officers, also in Russian, and we chuckled at this before continuing on down, with me being the first to reach the deck, where I was roughly grabbed by the arm, by one of the border patrol officers.

“You give me passport now” the officer demanded in broken English, shaking me as he did so, which had the skipper step forward and start arguing with the passport control officers again, who let go of my arm, when he heard the skipper say the word 16, which I guessed he was saying my age.

“Go and grab your passport lad, and don’t take too long, ok?” the skipper said to me calmly, before starting to argue with the two officers again, and I dashed down below to retrieve my passport, which I had packed in my backpack last night before starting my watch shift.

Once back on deck, I handed my passport to the skipper, who had it snatched from him by one of the border patrol officers. Tip and Kristof appeared with their passports, which were also snatched from their hands, and the patrol officers looked at each one carefully, before all three passports were handed to the skipper.

“You have to declare anything?” one of the border officers asked the skipper, in English. “No, but I have some food that needs to be disposed of in quarantine” the skipper responded, before the two patrol officers stormed off, and headed down below decks.

A good twenty minutes later, the two patrol officers reappeared, and they had grins on their faces, as they said something in Russian, and finally left the ship. Alrik appeared, having gone below decks, when the patrol officers came back on deck, and he looked at the skipper with a frown.

“Same as last time skipper,” he said. “Ok, I know this is the end of the journey for all of your trainees, and I wish to congratulate all of you for successfully completing the two weeks onboard this ship. Now before we say goodbye, I wish to ask for volunteers, to help to clean up the mess, that those two idiot Border patrol officers created below decks” the skipper said to all of us.

Tip, Curtis and I volunteered, as did 6 other trainees, and we headed down below to start the clean-up, which was mostly in the galley, dining mess, laundry, as well as straightening up the mattresses from most of the trainee cabins, which had been thrown on the ground.

Soon after starting the cleaning, we heard shouting, and Alrik came down and asked for all crew to come on deck right away. When we arrived, the gangway had been removed, and all the permanent crew were forming a line along the wharf side of the ship, with the captain shouting in Russian again.

And the two Border Patrol officers had their guns out and pointed at the crew. “Trainees, stay back and well away from us, we have armed officers pointing guns in our direction” the skipper ordered.

Copyright © 2019 Preston Wigglesworth; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Awesome chapter. The cruise went well, until it ended. Those customs officers seem intent on causing trouble for the Captain, his crew and the trainees. Damm cliffhanger is it time for the next chapter yet.

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Awesome chapter, it seems that the sh***t is going to hit the fan again, I love it the drama never ends. I cannot wait for more .

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9 hours ago, RCCROBO said:

Next chapter please sir. Next chapter please sir..........

coming right up

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