02/06/2009 - 19:15
South Chinese Sea: am I a seagoing gardener..?
Once,happy sailing onboard Felipes in summer of 1985, my job was to be officers steward.
Due to this job I had to be care of cleaning officerscabins and several other spaces in ship's accommodation, serving meals in officersmess and did work in Felipes laundry.
In crew's- and officersbar and officersmess this producttanker had a large numeral of pot's and hanging baskets,filled with a lot of different plants from all sizes. Once paid by the company on this tanker they looked like a mini-jungle.
Sometimes when ship was in harbour,people were able to buy new plants from ship's money,given by captain. And when dockstores were coming on board,companysent small bags with fresh plantingground and artificial plantingfood were once included.
Some stewards gave those plants water and the special food during work,some didn't.
But when they did,only when they had plenty time. Or when they liked to look after plants very much. Most of the voyages I made, apprentices did the 'greenwork'.
Or some officerswifes,who sailed with their husband several months onboard and had very much freetime...and mostly very 'green fingers'.
For me,on Felipes I had no time to look after the mass of plants and as a matter of fact,I wasn't interested in it at all,so I just did nothing about it.
When working more than a month onboard,the plants got more and more yellocoloured leaves,as water was not added to them by nobody at all.
And one month further,I had to pick up a lot of fallen leaves from floor,which started to irretate me. And during rolling ship some pot's also started rolling...
People asked me something about the plants and I said I'm doing nothing about it, because we had enough other volunteerscapacity onboard. There were four appentices and I thought four or five officerwifes,and my dailyschedule was fullfilled with work...
So,later on the captain (W.S.van der Ham) asked me about doing ship's plants.
And he got angry,because I said to him I wasn't onboard just to do so.
As housekeepinggroup,our group was to be smallered,because company wanted to save money on crew's occupation. So every time you came on an other ship,you got a lot more work to do,because sailors and apprentices were not minimalised,at those times.
I told captain greenkeeping was not included in my contract,it was just a voluntary
'job' and I even hadn't any knowledge about it. He began shouting at me: I had to do the plants,it had costed company's money and people onboard liked to look at them...
He said I was responsible for cleaning officersmess,thuss for the plants too...!
I still refused and told him I wasn't to be A GARDENER at all,there was nothing standing about it in my seamansbook and on ahip's payroll...!
He warned me about reporting me,due to bad behaviour and 'refusing work'.
Allright,at last I told him I would give them savingwater for once,but officerswifes
could to do the rest of greenwork,in their freetimes.
That afternoon I opened a porthhole and gave them endless refreshing water...
Next day only a few neat plants were left in mess and bar,and captain asked me: where's the rest of it ? I told him they had enough water for the rest of their lives,so after a while he understood I had throwed them over the side...
He got very angry again and reported me as a very negative person in 'conduite-report',at the end of my term.
But It wasn't only me he reported afterwards; nearly everyone of Dutch crew got a bad 'conduite',then.
Later on,during freetime in Holland,Shell-office invided me to speak about the pro-blems on Fusus. They told me,until then captain was used sailing with foreign crew-members. And having a crew,which was speaking 'against' captain's 'ordered wishes', was quite a new thing to him,on those socalled P.L.A.-ship's.
The office was surprised nearly whole crew got bad report...so,it happend to be rare
Many years later however,after a two years scholarperiod about green- and woodkeep-ing in naturereserve-area's,I had been contracted for six months to a city green-keeping department.
Quite a coincidence: then my contract told me,I used to be a gardener...!