Ocean College

From the Blog

The sound of sailing

Date: 26th November 2019
Author: Ella
Position: Atlantic
Geographical Position: 16° 12.3N/ 30° 51.4W
Etmal: 110nm

Quick claim: If you would place me somewhere on the Pelican blindfolded, I could tell you where I am. Why? Because there are lots of typical sounds around the ship and I have learned to either love or ignore them.

First of all, it is pretty easy to find out if you are on deck or down below because we all know the feeling of wind around our ears. And even though we are not having that much wind at the moment (it won`t be the fastest Atlantic crossing, I`m afraid…) you can always hear the air moving.

So the next thing you need to think about is where exactly you are. There would be lots of wind on the foredeck with the noises of the welldeck in the background. You are able to hear the foresails flapping if they’re set. Nearly the same on the boatdeck, but than you are above the sounds of the welldeck. So yes, the next place would be obvious: there is a lot going on around you on the welldeck.

There are people talking, eating, singing, listening to music or sometimes watching a movie, there is the Bosun’s store right next to it and on the other side you have the galley and the messroom – we’ll come to that later.

The next place on deck could be the poopdeck. Again, there is wind, there is the quiet moaning of the gangway and the ropes and if there is somebody sitting on the fenders – well, you all know this big gymnastic balls to sit on, right? That sound.

Last opportunity on deck is behind the wheelhouse. That is the easiest one to be honest. The helm is producing its own characteristic creaking. You can hear that inside the wheelhouse as well joint by the charts rustling, the “beep” of pressing buttons on the radar and the sound of putting away the wooden cover above the steps that lead down below.

But actually the only thing need to be said is “What’s your heading?” and you don’t have to guess.

(Quick comment on that: during sailing operations there are lots of instructions about what to do, you can hear them all over the decks outside. And of course there are announcements for lunch and dinnertime and meetings.)

Another place with its own sound is the Bosun’s store, our first place below – noisy during periods with high swell. There is working equipment of all kind rolling around in the cupboard and there are other weird noises wherever they are coming from…

By the way, while talking about weird noises – I’ve got no idea what is going on inside the engine room, because I haven’t been there yet, but it’s loud of course (not at the moment, we are sailing).

The sounds in the messroom are the normal ones that come with the amount of 42 people eating and hanging around there. Indeed, it’s not really quiet, but sometimes it is great to sit in this group of shipmates, playing games, working for school or just talking about every topic you could imagine.

You need to find a little bit lower volume (during school for example) to realize that you can hear the markers writing on the whiteboard, the door to the saloon getting opened or closed, the steps up- or downstairs and the galley which is our next place to talk about.

You’ll always hear the normal sound of cooking maybe a bit louder than in a normal kitchen because we are rolling from one side to the other and things (like cups, bowls or food…) are sliding around. There are always students running around to open the fridge or ask what we`ll have for dinner and dessert.

But the volume also depends on the galley duty of the day and their music. Sometimes there is quiet singing or the Beatles and sometimes there are Ruben and Carl and you will hear lots of lovely German rap… But I am not going to complain about that because they volunteer to wash up in the evening even if their not on galley duty.

Well, let’s move on to a really silent place, the saloon. Actually that’s the teachers and crews kingdom, but we are allowed to work there as long as it stays quiet. A good room to go to if you need to concentrate.

But normally you could stay in your cabin for that as well while your roommates are on watch or something like that. The only problem about being down below are the doors which either swing around, creak or nearly fall apart as they suddenly shut when the ship is rolling. That goes for the bathroom doors as well by the way. (Yes, normally they should be closed, but with 32 students running around all the time that’s easier said than done)

And that is the next place, the bathrooms. Apart from shampoos and conditioner flying around all the time there is one typical sound: the vacuum toilets. At first I hated them because I always got frightened but now I am just really glad because if they make noise, they work.

The alley way is an even better place to enjoy listening to the doors, but we have some specials down here as well: there is the room with all the cleaning equipment, the washing machine and the dryer in it. Well, it sounds like a washing machine and a dryer…

Familiar situation in the kitchen store, there are fridges and they sound like fridges, what a surprise. But I think not everyone knows the noise of opening and closing a watertight door – lucky you.

A way better and my favourite sound down below is the music coming out of the engineers room, reggae!

Let’s stay with my favourite places to listen to and also the last ones left: up aloft. No matter which platform, no matter what mast it is: music out of wind and waves, the sails and the ropes, I could stay up there for ages. I am aloft as often as possible also because there is one sound I love the most and that has been the reason for this topic – the sound of sailing – as well.

The sound of flying fish.

I can’t describe it, I am afraid – but believe me, it is amazing.

Alright, I need to finish this daily report now, I’ve just heard the announcement for lunch… Shanty

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