What awaits a Trainee on MIR.

 

 

All trainees have the chance to take part in sea watches and on-board-routines, to do navigation, to go aloft, to learn fancy work and the Russian language, to be guided around the inside of the ship, etc.  Please speak about your wishes with your liaison officer, the watch officers, chief mate or the captain.

But there are also some obligations to fulfill to make life on board easier.

Watch system

The whole crew (also engineers) and all cadets are divided into three watches all through the day. One watch is working four hours, is free for eight hours and works again four hours. We have therefore a four-eight-watch (04-08, 16-20, called first watch), an eight-twelve-watch (08-12, 20-24, called third watch) and a twelve-four-watch (00-04, 12-16, called second watch). If you like you can join a watch, but if you do so you should always keep to the watch you chose.

Be ready at least five minutes before your watch starts and join the cadets on upper deck on the port side. Your responsible bosun will show you what job has to be done. If your helm watch starts at this moment, don’t join the cadets on deck, but go directly to the bridge. Inform the watch officer that you want to go on helm watch.

For any watch, always keep in mind:

1.      Maintenance (voluntary)

Most of the work that has to be done is maintenance of the ship. That can be working with ropes and sails, painting, repairing, cleaning, etc. either on deck or in the rigging.

2.      Helm watch (voluntary)

During helm watch you steer the ship under command of the watch officer and the cadets on watch. When you take over the helm, you get a course in degrees or a special angle to the wind, which you have to repeat loudly (for example 215° on the compass; you have to say: ”The course is two one five.”). The same when somebody takes over from you: give all important information to the next helmsman. If you receive a command, repeat it loudly, so that the one who gave it, knows that you understood it correctly and will follow it. The helming commands will be in English. Never leave the helm before being relieved. If you are cold, want a break or a rest, inform your watch officer and he will relieve you.

Helmsmen’s commands, which you will receive and have to understand:

Starboard five

5° of starboard rudder to be held.

Hard a starboard

Helm fully to starboard

Port five

5° of port rudder to be held.

Hard a port

Helm fully port side

Midships

Rudder to be held in the fore and aft position

Steady

Reduce swing as rapidly as possible

Steady as she goes

Steer a steady course on the compass heading indicated at the time of the order. The helmsman is to repeat the order and call out the compass heading on receiving the order. When the ship is steady on that heading, the helmsman is to call out (for example): “Steady on one seven two”

Steer two one five

Turn helm so, that you reach the announced course 215° on the compass

a little higher

Move the ship higher to the wind (closer angle)

keep off

Move the ship away from the wind (wider angle)

 

3.      Lookout (voluntary)

Lookout means you observe the horizon for other ships, buoys and floating things, that might disturb or influence our sailing. All information goes to the watch officer.

By the way, if you might think lookout was not necessary on modern ships any more (a trainee once said to me: "lookout is an anachronism and only made to annoy me!" and went to bed...), should know the following:

Either during your watch time or outside, we will organize ship excursions, navigation, rigg training, instructions about sails and rigging, fancy work with ropes, Russian lessons, Video film, etc. depending on your interest.

Duties outside of the watch system

 

-          Pantry service (not on all voyages)

Together with the cadets, you have to prepare the dishes for meal times, help serving the trainees and later wash the dishes and tables. Usually you start half an hour before mealtime – unless the cadets tell you something different. Use the entrance door on starboard side (number 121) and knock loudly if it is closed. Remember: you help the cadets, you don’t wash everything alone – if they just decided to have a break while you work, ask them, when you can come back to help. Whenever there arises a problem, inform your liaison officer or the officer on watch.

 -          Cleaning kubriks, toilets and shower room (not on all voyages)

The toilets and shower rooms are cleaned by the crew and the cadets. If you find them dirty or otherwise unfit for use please inform the liaision officer who will organise cleaning or repair.

       -             Sails alarm 

No matter what you are doing at the moment when you hear the sails alarm ("dr-dr, dr-dr, dr-dr, parusny avral, parusny avral, vsye na vyerkh gatovy") you get dressed for outside, eventually fitted out with your harness and go to the assembly point of your watch (1st watch at the fore mast, 2nd watch at the main mast, 3rd watch at the mizzen mast) on the deck and wait for further instructions. You will meet your bosun and your officer of the watch there who will coordinate the manoeuvre together with the bridge. Helmsman and lookout as a rule also get sent to their assembly place as during the manoeuvre certain crewmembers will take over helm and lookout. Nevertheless do not leave these posts without the command of the watchofficer. He might just have decided that today you are the "certain person". 
Even if you think after a while, the manouevre is over, you have to wait until the end will be announced over the loudspeakers from the bridge ("adboy"). After this you either return to the work you had been doing or help to clear the deck and only then retire.

Food supply: All meals are prepared in the galley. It is not possible to take care of special diets or personal meal-habits. You cannot prepare you own meals anywhere on board. If you need a special diat due to medical causes, discuss this with the ship's surgeon. 

Drinks outside mealtimes: There is a kettle available to boil tea- or coffee-water. It is recommended to bring tea and coffee (instant) on board with you. Alcohol is banned at sea, but will be "overseen" among the trainees as long as you do not appear drunken for the watch or climb into the rigging still under influence of alcohol. Actually there is a "bar" every evening in the crew's mess room, where beer and soft drinks are sold.

Going on shore: Trainees going on shore have to be back in the time indicated at the gangway or stated by the gangway watch. The Ship can not wait for late Trainees, as the pilot and tug boats have been ordered for a special time.

Best time for a trip: Although it might be rather cold and maybe rainy, I would recommend the spring. The cadets will normally only get collected in June, when MIR returns home to take part in the town anniversary of her home port St. Petersburg. The sailing season starts earlier - around Easter. Therefore in April and May there are special voyages. Due to a lack of cadets the trainees are needed to help wherever they can. Because of working together with the permanent crew, one can find - if one is open for this - a very close contact between the sailors and their "guests". The atmosphere is more relaxed and the ship is not as crowded as in Summer. On the other hand, often not all sails will be up on the yards. 

If you wish to see MIR under full sails, you should go in Summer, especially during the race-season. In that time the trip often includes harbour days with thrilling festivals in the race ports and on board there is the certain regatta atmosphere...
In Autumn another kind of very nice trips follow. The race is run, the cadets have passed their exams, we're sailing "for fun". As a rule during these weeks the first sails get taken away, the crew starts to perpare the ship for the winter. Whoever feels not only angry about this, gets the opportunity to help doing some unusual work, gets good contact with the cadets, who improved their English and lost their shyness they had in the beginning, and maybe he sees a bit of dolce vita in form of swimming days, angling or just relaxing on the deck.

Motorship MIR? 

Unfortunately it is not always possible to be under sails. Tight schedules and the necessity to bring the trainees into port  and collect the new ones in time combined with no or only little wind (or from the wrong direction) too often leads to the fact, that MIR proceeds under engine. Sometimes some maintenance work in the rigging or on the deck makes safe manoeuvres impossible. Who wants to climb freshly painted shrouds? Or the cadets need to prepare for some important exams and have no time for manoeuvres. Is zig-zagging needed because of the wind from the front, often the diesel gets used to give the boys (and the crew) a rest. Maybe there is a weather warning on the radio, so the captain decides to set only a few or even no sails due to precaution. Mind that there are 199 lives to be taken care of on the MIR.

Nevertheless the ship's masters try to set sails and to sail only by the power of the wind whenever it is possible. In other cases mind the following: trainees muster on MIR in the rank of a "deck apprentice", the lowest rank of all. They have not booked a sailing cruise on a windjammer, but want to take part in the live and work of a sail training ship - even if this means to proceed under engine or even stay at the anchor and paint the deck houses for several days. If you see this differently, think closely before you board on MIR. There are cruise ships under sails, too...        

After a worksheet from Nicole Graf and Sergey Timoshkov with additions from B. Beuse

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