Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The ships whistle sounded - one long, continuous blast and then the general alarm. Never a good way to start off the day...

I rushed to the aft deck and could see thick gray smoke billowing down the hallway and pouring out the windows. “Cookie here!”, I yelled to our chief stew and immediately began helping the bosun and engineer into their protective gear; buckling, snapping, tightening straps... My fingers were nimble and quick. I heard someone yell something about an engine room fire, but I had no idea what was going on and I was too focused on what I was doing to ask... Zippers, face mask, gloves, helmet... Did you know that a fire doubles in size and intensity every three minutes? Imagine, on a fiberglass yacht – we’ll just melt! I knew there was no time to waste. The guys raced down the hallway laden with gear.

“Cookie, grab the hose on deck and cool the perimeters!”, the stew hollered. I raced upstairs and grabbed the hose. Then the call came over the VHF, “two fire fighters going in, full tanks”. I hosed the deck but could feel the heat rising from inside. Smoke and steam rose up around me. Heat vapors rippled the air. I could here yelling inside, but I couldn’t make out what was being said. It seemed like an eternity. Then the VHF rang out again, “Fire out, flash watch set, area cooled, two firefighters retreating”, “class B engine room fire, electricity down, all crew accounted for”.

“Good drill, guys. You’ve got to remember to keep chatter to a minimum over the radio’s, stay down low when you go in, communicate”, the two REAL firefighters said. “Now let’s pick two more people, gear them up and do it again”.

Today was firefighting training. All the crew has been through some basic firefighting before this when we each took our STCW course, but the STCW training was basically putting out a barbeque fire with different fire extinguishers – at least that’s how my STCW course in St. Martin went. But today, on a mock-up vessel, we actually battled major fires and learned how to handle ourselves in an emergency situation. It was a little spooky at first, to imagine scenarios like the ones that we were practicing. The captain said that fiberglass boats such as ours, any large-scale fire would most likely end in an “Abandon Ship Scenario” because the fiberglass hull would catch fire easily and melt. Not a situation I like to imagine at 8am, while I’m trying to enjoy my morning tea. The firefighters also said that if or when we call for help, we have to consider what kind of help we were going to receive in the types of places we’ll be. I could only imagine having a fire situation on some of the Caribbean Islands I’ve been on – you’d call for help and about 20 minutes later (island time, mon) some rasta would show up with a joint in his mouth and a bucket over one shoulder! In the South Pacific, our mayday calls might just be the dinner bell to a group of hungry cannibals! We’d be greeted by a tribe of savages carrying clubs and stock pots – and those stock pots won’t be for bailing water!

Would you actually trust this girl in an emergency?

It’s full steam ahead here at the yard. I absolutely can’t believe it. I feel like it has been forever; waiting, working, waiting, working… and I have so much to do now that we’re so close! I’ve been meeting with caterers and event planners for the big launch and mapping out where everything is going to go in the galley once we’re finally in the water. It is a tad overwhelming, but it feels great to actually be in the homestretch. The launch date is a mere THREE WEEKS away! We’ll be moving aboard sometime in mid-August and that date can't come soon enough. It will be such a relief to have adequate refrigerator space, then I won’t have to go grocery shopping every, single day! After that, it’s sea trials and then we’re outta here! And thank God. Seattle is nice, but I miss the sun!

1 comment:

prcrstn8 said...

Woo-hoo, that's better than your scootering outfit!

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