17 September, 2005

This is half of the officers' mess hall. I've never seen more than four people in here at a time.

This is what we have to do every night.

This is the sign they use when traveling in the other direction.

17 September, 2005

Day 63. Sleeping on this thing is really very addictive. I had all I could do to wake up in time for lunch. I never had a chance for breakfast. But that's perfectly fine with me. The sleep is probably doing me much more good anyway.

Ben didn't make it to lunch but I chatted with the captain some more. Maybe I can get him to be in the film and/or on the radio. That would be really neat. I know there are many interesting stories and perspectives to be found on this boat. But most of the people here seem to keep to themselves and I'm wary of violating anyone's space. I guess we'll see what happens.

There are now no other boats within sight or on our radar. The boat that was in front of us has gone on another approach towards Los Angeles. It's interesting because that destination is right next to Long Beach, which is where we're going. But the two operate completely independently according to the captain. And they both pale in comparison to the activity that can be witnessed in some of the Asian ports where boats are stacked one behind the other as far as the eye can see.

I heard the story of the one time our boat needed assistance. A member of the crew had a heart attack and the ship had to turn back towards San Francisco. Fortunately they were only a few hundred miles out when this happened. If something like that were to happen further out, such as where we're heading right now, the unspoken conclusion is that it wouldn't be a very good outcome at all.

I've been told that we won't be seeing a single island or another boat until we get much closer to our destination. The captain has also been printing out news for us and leaving it in the officers' recreation room twice a day. I'm not sure where exactly it's coming from as the formatting is rather strange. But I'm happy to hear any words from the outside.

I caught up with Ben later in the day and we explored the ship a little more and tried to get his laptop fixed again. We left a note for the second engineer who also had a laptop and just might have an XP installation disk. Nobody else on the boat apparently had one.

I got food delivered from the galley. Basically this is how it works. You look at the list of stuff they have, all of which is pretty cheap. You write out what you want and give that piece of paper to the steward who then gives it to the captain who I believe looks it over and approves it. You then get the stuff you want brought to you. It's not a whole lot - peanuts, soda, beer, stuff like that. The regular food is all included in the journey and you're welcome to take fruit and cold cuts from the refrigerator in the kitchen whenever you want.

Even though we had both seen it before, Ben and I decided to watch "AI" as it was one of the few DVDs in stock and we couldn't get any of his VCDs to work in my laptop. Midway through we heard a loud alarm that resounded throughout the ship. We went into the hallway and saw that all of the fire doors had shut. Uh oh. We went over to the stairwell and looked down. Various people were on their way to the engine room. They weren't running which I took as a good sign. Someone else was coming down from the bridge. He said everything was under control and that we could go back to our rooms. Nevertheless we decided to stick around just to see if anything else was going to happen. A few minutes later the same person came back upstairs and said it was a false alarm. It actually wasn't the first time I had heard an alarm. Yesterday when Ben and I were in the officers' recreation room, a little light on the wall started to flash and there was a rather shrill beeping sound. The light said "boiler" which is definitely something you don't want on a flashing indicator. But it stopped a few minutes later. When I was going to sleep last night at around 4 am (it's easy to go to sleep late when you lose an hour every night) I heard an alarm that sounded like it was coming from a room below mine. Then it stopped. Ten minutes later it started again and then stopped. I was a little concerned until I figured out it was someone's snooze alarm. This latest one though was a real alarm and one to be taken seriously. That was underscored five minutes later by the use of the shipwide PA system and the captain's voice announcing "False Alarm." At least I learned that the sound of that alarm was pretty hard to miss.