Boat Building

With all the accumulated naval experience and time at sea, it is only natural the Black Watch passengers build their own ships. Which of course leads to a competition in the pool to determine if any of them will float. The Table 14, Second Seating (John, Beverley, Claudio, Carole, Ron, and Doré) entry never got off the drawing board in spite of John’s 10 years of experience on one of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers.

The rules were the boat had to float for 60 seconds while carrying 10 cans of coke to qualify for the finals and then needed to survive a cannonball from one of the larger members of the entertainment team; the cute one didn’t make a tsunami.

Here are a few of the more inspired entries, clockwise from upper left. The World vaguely resembles the actual ship by that name, which is a condominium with about 200 cabins and the next port of call determined by a vote of the members (I can’t imagine how that would work and I wonder if the votes are weighted.) The Vunderbra, named for the ‘canvas’ it was carrying. Another contestant (the Pink Pig) having survived the ‘tsunami’ test. The ‘Watch Black Soot‘, which doesn’t look anything like the ‘Black Watch’ and is an inside joke. And the actual winner, based on a voice vote reminiscent of a DFL convention.

The competition seemed to occupy quite a bit of time at sea for some of our more competitive shipmates. Many as veterans of other Fred.Olsen cruises came prepared. They also came prepared with appropriate attire for the theme nights at dinner. Formal nights were a given but there were also nautical, western, rock & roll, Arabian, Latin, and ‘red, white & blue’ nights. Some of the British attempts at ‘western’ had to be explained to me. Oddly ‘red, white, & blue’ referred to the Union (not the Union Jack) flag. When we were asked why we didn’t participate in that one, our answer was we weren’t feeling that ‘red, white, & blue’ when we left home last December.

There was some advantage to being dropped at Southampton port by friends and relatives rather than checking baggage on an airline and taking a train from London. Or then we would have had less excuse; we’re not that good at ‘fancy dress’ anyway. Where is Susan Peck when we need her?

We listened to a lot of ‘enrichment’ lectures that covered a range of topics, although they were tailored to attract old British citizens. I don’t need to know more than I do about how the Union flag (not the Union Jack) got to be what it is or about the flags used by ships at sea. I thought they just told the country of origin (or registration) for the ship but they also cover the rank of the commanding officer, whether there is communicable disease on board, whether anyone is in the brig awaiting court martial, and on and on. And of course the flags you fly in port are different from the ones you fly at sea.

I only made it through the first of five lectures by that speaker but half of that was interesting. According to some including our British journalist friend, the Union Jack only refers to the flag when flown at sea. This is disputed by the Flag Institute (there is such a thing.)

Prior to 1606, the flag of England was St George’s Cross (remember him from Malta; a white cross on a blue background). Then the flag of Scotland with its St. Andrew’s Cross (white on blue) was added, which happened after James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603 and we  had Great Britain. Then in 1801, Ireland became part of the union and St. Patrick’s Cross (Red on white) was added, and we had the United Kingdom. The asymmetrical mix of red and white in the flag is so that neither Scotland nor Ireland has a more favored position. This only leaves out Wales and they haven’t forgotten.

Other things we could have done almost any day at sea (but generally didn’t; we needed Deni Coyne of “When you’re at summer camp, you do the activities.”) were dance classes (beginning or improving levels, and introduction to ballet; I don’t even want to think about that one with this group), open dancing sessions (at least a couple a day, with partners provided for the unescorted ladies), community choir, ukulele lessons, art class, craft class, drama club, table tennis, fitness classes, friendly whist, bridge (unfriendly, I guess), knit & knat, trivia contests, and the usual sorts of deck games and evening shows you’d expect from a British ship. Plus occasional special events, like sail away parties when leaving port and crossing the equator ceremonies. Today we are invited to a special lunch for the “rounders”, the people who are going “south to south”. Which translates to going “around the world, Southampton to Southampton.”

Appeasing Neptune for Crossing the Equator

And there was a ‘casino’ that had one blackjack table and one roulette wheel; we saw one couple actually use it. And there were people who put their towels on lounge chairs by 7:00 in the morning and spent the day (when they weren’t at meals) laying by the pool. They now resemble crocodile wallets.

We’ve barely gotten any color and barely had time to fit in breakfast before lunch, teatime, dinner, and late supper. It will be odd in a few days to actually get hungry again and have to think about what’s for lunch, rather than which dining room should we go to.

2 thoughts on “Boat Building

  1. Ron, am so enjoying your travelogue. I was laughing reading about the boat race. You need to author an ongoing column somewhere!


  2. More Fun With Flags: the flag with just the blue field and white stars is the USA Jack. It is flown from the jackstaff on the bow of a military ship while in port.
    BTW, congrats again for acquiring the exalted status of Shellback.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s