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Trip Narrative

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The Miami cab drove off, leaving me standing alone with my baggage at the foot of the gangway to the Katrin S.  All around me were the deafening noises of a port at work: the horn-like air brakes of the container trucks, the roaring diesel generators used to power the huge gantry cranes, yelling and whistling from dock workers trying to signal each other, and a collection of various other horns and warning sirens intended to be heard over all the other loud noises.  It was a surreal environment, and I couldnt get over a feeling that somehow I wasnt supposed to be here.

A forward view along the starboard side of the poop deck shows a large hatch that is one of two main entrances to the interior of the ship. Ahead of the entryway is a stairway which descends to the "main deck" that runs forward for the length of the ship.

The ships steward greeted me at the foot of the gangway.  Jonathan was a cheerful 22-year-old Filipino on one of his first jobs at sea.  He took me up the gangway, showed me to my room, and let me know when dinner would be ready.

On My Own

When I left my room a few minutes later, I had a sensation that could only be compared to playing a first-person computer game, such as Doom, for the first time.  I had no idea how to get around the ship and would have to just wander around the passageways randomly, trying to form a mental map of where I was, and how to get to where I was trying to go.

No one really briefed me or the other passenger (a retired guy in his 70s from Denver) when we boarded the ship.  I guess I was expecting some sort of introduction to the rules, or where things were, what I could do, and where I could go.  For the most part, I had to figure these things out as I went along, picking up useful tidbits of information from the comments of crewmembers.  Jens Mueller, the officer cadet, mentioned the first evening, that if I ever got hungry, I was free to look in the refrigerator for leftovers.  If he hadnt mentioned that, there might have been a few late nights dreaming of the next mornings breakfast.  In a way, the lack of a formal indoctrination made the trip more interesting.  It made me feel less like a tourist and more like an explorer.


The stevedores in Miami seemed somewhat intimidating, and I didnt feel compelled to strike up a conversation with any of them.


As it turns out, the Captain was very accommodating as far as letting me explore the ship.  It was great being able to be present on the bridge during docking, and to hang out on the deck during freight operations.  I was allowed to climb up on the hatch covers and watch as the 40 containers were loaded and unloaded just a few feet in front of me.  He even told me I could climb up the shipboard cranes, if I wanted.  (I intended to do that, but never got around to it.)  (continued...)
 

 

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