Ship’s Log: Day Nineteen (Melbourne to Tilbury)

Nineteenth day of the voyage; twelfth day of the Pacific crossing.

Last night an outdoor bar-be-que to celebrate summer on the calm waters of the ‘Pacific’. Music blaring, half-drum fire, endless meat cooked (including squid and octopus), very drunken sailors and even more drunken engineers. Soon we had piles of empty cans, bones, cigarette butts and so on. No-one seemed to worry at all about leaning back on a railing in the midst of the Pacific. The Bosun spoke endlessly about praying, missing church on board, Muslim neighbours, Christian and Muslim children at school, his seasickness and urged us to visit. The third engineer, a man married three times and with an impossibly white shirt and winning smile, chatted up Christina, asking whether she had a twin sister he could hook up with. And the habit for photographs was not some stiff pose with a photo smile – the smile that you put on when you think what a smile might be – nor even a pose by a monument, but a race to gather in an extravagant mockery: arms outstretched, drinks held aloft, heads kinked, frozen in time … The best approach to photos I have seen for quite a while.

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