Life on the Reef - Sunday

Wasn't sure how to approach this, how to explain what was going on in that period. In the end, the best way seemed to be by a day-by-day account, with the odd adventure thrown in!

So, kick off was Sunday evening and although a short day, there was a lot to get through!

Always a busy day.  Things kicked off around 3 ish, all the crew who didn't live aboard would sporadically drift back to the boat to commence duties.  Bar and kitchen to be stocked, cabins to be made up, general deck and mechanical checks to be completed.  Was always fun with people flitting around, each with their own tasks to complete before boarding.  Before this, I had already made the trip to the local video emporium to get a bunch of tapes for the passengers to watch in the quiet cruising times, sometimes my humour got away from be by renting such titles as Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure, you know the kind of thing! 

Then it was into Whites (dress uniform) and wait for the all important passengers to turn up.  This was always an interesting time because about an hour before 6pm boarding commenced, the General Manager would turn up with the passenger manifest, a critical document on the Queen of the Isles.  This was handed over to me, as purser, I had responsibility for the inside of the ship, how many passengers we were carrying and most important of all, what cabins they booked!  The reason for its importance was simple, whatever cabins weren't’t booked, we moved into!  Maybe a little disrespectful to the hard-working, fare-paying holiday makers, but what the hell ;-)…..  The rule was straightforward, cabins went to couples first and as purser, I had first pick, then it went down in order of rank until all unused cabins were now used!  Had a stateroom once or twice, regularly one of the rear doubles and worse case, one of the downstairs cabins with tiny, tiny bunks! 

So, by 8pm, everybody was boarded and we were underway!  The regulation tickertape and streamers, a burst of the horn as we pulled away from Trinity Wharf bound for Thursday Island. Anyone who has worked on boats will know this is always an exciting moment, the adrenaline build-up, the frantic preparations, then the thrill of putting to sea.

There was the odd amusing incident during this flurry of activity; rough transcript of one is as follows:

(crackle of radio) “shore to Queen of the Isles, shore to Queen of the Isles, GL here, over”
(Andy presses button) “Hey Gordon, what’s up?” never one for the radio tech-speak…
“I think I left my briefcase in your office, over”

Much hilarity amongst crew!  The silly sod had to have it flown back from Lizard Island the following day!

Then came the usual panics as the Chef discovered what was missed off his order, eggs one week, steak another.  The latter was personally very disappointing as it was the same week GL forgot his case and I was tasked with delivering said case to the top-notch resort on Lizard Island, at the same time negotiating for a fantastic piece of fillet beef from their cordon bleu kitchens to feed the hungry passengers.  I got back to the beach BBQ to find the passengers and crew had scoffed the lot!!!!

Back to Sunday, and once we were underway and the passengers (and crew for that matter) were safely installed in their cabins, it was time for the Safety Talk.  All passengers and various available crew were assembled in the bar or the observation lounge for formal introduction to the Officers and the obligatory run trough of what to do if we sank!  Have to admit to not being so good at that, my passion for public speaking and karaoke not being fully developed for several more years, if it was now, they wouldn't be able to shut me up!  It did involve a few running gags which wore very thin doing them every week.  One which always killed was in demonstrating how to tie the life jackets; I would rope the prettiest hostess to one of the pillars!  Much hilarity from the passengers, strained grins from the crew seeing it for the umpteenth time! 

All this fun was followed by a crew dinner, phased seating's as we had a small table near the galley, six at one time maximum. Also an amusing time as you got a chance to chat to whoever you were serving with that week, there was a hard core of regulars but the peripheral ones changed frequently.

A moment of amusement came one Sunday evening, I was sitting with the Mate, Gunner Artmann and Roland, the slightly eccentric (aren't all chef's?) Indonesian chef cum T shirt designer, served a pasta dish. Gunner and I, as ever, smothered the whole thing in Tabasco Sauce to Roland's utter horror!!! We were insulting his culinary skills, we didn't even show him the respect to taste it first, a whole rant along those lines.... We were slightly bemused by this outburst but carried on smothering anyway, the food was delicious!!!!


In dress uniform on Sunday evenings to welcome the passengers aboard
Checking the manifest for spare cabins....
Saftey talk

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