The reality of the sea

Walked another mile today. Was intending to do more, as I imagine I’ll do less once it gets really hot, but by the end of the third circuit, my legs were really tired, so I had to admit defeat. In fact, by the time I got back to my cabin, I was actually shuffling because I didn’t have the strength to lift my feet up! Hope I’m not coming down with anything. Losing an hour when the clocks went forward during the night has already started having an effect on me. Although I did drink a fair amount last night as well, which might not have helped… it was only one whisky sour and two tom collinses, but that’s three times more than I normally drink in a night!

The big news of the day is that the norovirus has arrived. Someone who filled in the health questionnaire when boarding, lied. We had an announcement at noon from the Captain that one or two people were ill, but not to worry, they would take extra precautions. At 5pm, they cancelled the Captain’s drinks parties. Tonight is a formal night and it is customary to have a drinks party with free booze to allow us to meet the Captain and crew and listen to him give a little welcome speech. At lunch he said it would go ahead, but people shouldn’t shake hands. At 5pm, he said more people were ill and it would be postponed for a week.

Funnily enough, yesterday at dinner, I asked why there was no alcohol gel available to clean our hands when entering the restaurant and the waiters said that the policy was that it wasn’t necessary. I pointed out that everyone coming to dinner either used a stair handrail or the lift buttons and it seemed unwise, but I was told that that was the policy and that was an end to it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there will probably be some available tonight… What do you think?

9pm update

There was. Surprise, surprise.

2am Friday morning 8 January

Real life is never far away on a cruise ship. It’s not the isolated idyll that some holidays can be. On a ship, reality is always very close to hand, even when we’re miles from land.

At about 11pm this evening, an announcement was made that we would be slowing down, so the movement of the ship may seem more pronounced. This was because we were responding to a mayday call as a sailor on a nearby yacht had gone overboard. We duly lowered our search and rescue boats (different to lifeboats as they are open so that people can be pulled in – lifeboats have roofs and doors). We’re still looking.

It has now been three hours since we joined the search and although we are still following our search pattern, and the Portuguese coastguard boats and helicopters are also here, no one I have spoken to believes he can still be alive. Never mind the 4 metre swell. Think of the cold. Even if he was wearing a lifejacket to keep him afloat if he gets tired, the cold must be unbelievable and I personally doubt he’ll survive, even if he is found. We have our medical team and all their equipment standing by at the door, defibrillators, the lot, should he be recovered, but, call me a cynical pessimist, I’m not hopeful. I’m happy to cross everything, along with everyone else, but the current air temperature is 12 degrees so I reckon the water is as near freezing as makes no difference. The crew are all doing what they can to help, peering over the side into the darkness, but it’s a big ocean and one person is very small. It’s pitch dark, of course. There’s no ambient light whatsoever. Those of you who live in towns have probably very little idea of what true darkness looks like, but trust me, it’s black. Of course, we’re lit up like a Christmas tree, but that just pushes the darkness away by a couple of metres. After that, you can’t see your own hand in front of your face. I’ll offer up a prayer before I go to bed, and all we can do now is hope.

10.30am Friday

He died. They found him at about half 3 but he was dead on recovery.
It does puzzle me that it took five hours to find him. Surely the Portuguese coastguard have infra-red cameras? He should have glowed in the dark, surely? Even if he cooled down, he should have showed up as warmer than the surrounding water for quite a while.

I just hope he couldn’t see the lights of the ships looking for him. That would be too awful, if he could see them but they couldn’t see him and he slowly died waiting for them to come closer. Hopefully, he was unconscious before he hit the water.

Horrible.

But, despite the sadness, the cruise goes on, life goes on.
And so, we resume our journey – five hours behind schedule. If I thought we were pegging it before, that’s nothing to what we’re doing now. We have apparently made up two hours so far, and they’re hoping we’ll make up another hour or so, but we’ll be arriving in Barcelona late on Saturday. This is a Good Thing, as it means I don’t have to get up so early. Mum and Dad wanted to be off the ship an hour before the shops even open. No idea why. Not sure what they thought they were going to do!

Personally, I have a cold and I feel rotten. If I could justify staying in bed all day under the duvet, I would, cos I feel like rubbish. My throat feels like someone has been sandpapering it while I slept. It’s really very painful. In fact, I think I’ll go and have a nap before my Spanish class.

This cold has really knocked me sideways. I couldn’t walk a mile today. I was exhausted after one circuit, which is only a third of a mile. I thought about pushing it, but it’s Barcelona tomorrow, so I should probably conserve my strength. It’s only 10pm but I’m going to have an early night and hope I can sleep it off.

Still snowing in England, I see. You know you’re in trouble when you make the top stories on CNN, the world’s most America-centric news channel! Stay warm, my friends.

Further edit: His name was Richard Tapp. Coincidentally, he was a friend of the captain.

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