Kaiwo Maru：Day one July 25, 2017
I arrived early before 8 am and was probably the first of the trainees to arrive. Then a kind man gave me a uniform to wear. As I was trying it on, my fellow trainee roommates arrived. Once we were all together, the first thing our instructors taught us was how to make our beds. The beds had to be made in a particular way and kept that way, in true military fashion. They even said that someone would come and check later as part of their inspection. Following this, we headed up to the deck to be briefed on how to use our life jackets and the evacuation procedure. We enthusiastically helped each other out during all of this, which was a good sign as we would be stuck with each other for the next three days.
After lunch, which was eel on rice, it was time for us to join the rest of the crew, who were cadets from a nearby university, and line up outside on the deck for a dress rehearsal of the sending off ceremony that was to be held at 12:30. When it was time, we left the ship to stand on the dock before an enthusiastic audience waiting to see us off. There was even a brass band from the local elementary school playing.
The mayor of the city wished us all well and we saluted him back. Then it was time to board the ship again and prepare for the voyage.
The cadets from the university then started climbing up the masts, some right up to the very top! Then they spread out across the yard arms precariously holding on to one rope and balanced on another rope in their bare feet! I asked one of the boys before he climbed up, “Does it hurt your feet?” He replied, “Yes, it does!” The crowd looked in awe as they then took off their yellow hats with one hand and shouted: “Gokigen yo!” (bon voyage!) The onlookers yelled the same back.
A while later, we learned how to chart a safe course using a map and compass. We had been covering this kind of material translating for a client, so it was good to see what we had translated put into practice.
We finished up the day with a round of self-introductions, starting with our teachers. We told each other about our motives for choosing to sail on Kaiwo Maru. It was interesting listening to why people wanted to participate. For most, it was for their love of the sea and the prospect of sailing on a ship as grand as Kaiwo Maru. For me, it was also a great chance to experience first hand the world which previously only existed in nautical terms in a dictionary.
Looking forward to tomorrow : )
Geoff, aboard Kaiwo Maru