to you and your family from ours.
Here's an email I recently rediscovered, which I sent a few years ago; I thought it captured Christmas life on a ships at sea...
" Merry Christmas to you,
Here it is, Christmas Eve, and I hope you are enjoying a quiet happy time with your family and friends. I wish you all the best for a great New Year as well!
As for me, I am again at work on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Right this minute, I am on watch and we are pretty much smack dab in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, on our way to Costa Maya in Mexico for Boxing Day. We are running an extended 10 day cruise to accommodate Christmas Day and New Year day in one cruise.
It’s quiet in the Control Room, we are doing a slow steam, and I am looking at a picture of Julie and Oliver that I place on the Control Room Christmas tree. I have some Bing Crosby caroling on the computer sound system and I just finished having a big plate of shrimp and fish, a Christmas Eve specialty from Croatia. It was cooked by one of my fellow Second Engineer in the Electrical Workshop. After watch, I will join the rest of the engine room team in the Main Engine Workshop, which they have elaborately decorated, and the Filipinos are cooking some specialties from home in the Welding Bay.
We have a full ship and there will be caroling in the Atrium tonight, followed by Midnight Mass in the Melodies Theater. As you can see, most of us cannot be with the ones we love, but we do what we can here, to enjoy our time and keep some normalcy while at sea.
Enjoy your time together as a family, it is such an important thing in life, most sailors are reminded of that everyday, but especially in this season. Christmas is, after all the celebration of the birth of Christ, but also of a family. So from mine, to yours, Merry Christmas, and all my best wishes for a great, satisfying New Year.
- Martin "
For those of you working at sea this year, away from family and friends, I extend you my warmest wishes for a safe and uneventful Christmas season, and hope for your quick and safe return home.
Here's are some poems and thoughts, to get you in the spirit...
Christmas at Sea
Robert Louis Stevenson
The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was Nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.
They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood to go about.
All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.
We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.
The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.
The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.
O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.
And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.
They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
"All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call.
"By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate, Jackson, cried.
"It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied.
She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good.
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.
And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.
In the profoundest ocean
There is a rainbow shell,
It is always there, shining most stilly
Under the greatest storm waves
That the old Greek called "ripples of laughter."
As you listen, the rainbow shell
Sings--in the profoundest ocean.
It is always there, singing most silently!
Song from the Ship
Thomas Lovell Beddoes
1 To sea, to sea! The calm is o'er;
2 The wanton water leaps in sport,
3 And rattles down the pebbly shore;
4 The dolphin wheels, the sea-cows snort,
5 And unseen Mermaids' pearly song
6 Comes bubbling up, the weeds among.
7 Fling broad the sail, dip deep the oar:
8 To sea, to sea! the calm is o'er.
9 To sea, to sea! our wide-winged bark
10 Shall billowy cleave its sunny way,
11 And with its shadow, fleet and dark,
12 Break the caved Tritons' azure day,
13 Like mighty eagle soaring light
14 O'er antelopes on Alpine height.
15 The anchor heaves, the ship swings free,
16 The sails swell full. To sea, to sea!
The Sea called--I lay on the rocks and said:
"I am come."
She mocked and showed her teeth,
Stretching out her long green arms.
"Go away!" she thundered.
"Then tell me what I am to do," I begged.
"If I leave you, you will not be silent,
But cry my name in the cities
And wistfully entreat me in the plains and forests;
All else I forsake to come to you--what must I do?"
"Never have I uttered your name," snarled the Sea.
"There is no more of me in your body
Than the little salt tears you are frightened of shedding.
What can you know of my love on your brown rock
Engineers ruined Christmas !
There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau). At an average (census)rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming there is at least one good child in each.
Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left
for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get onto the next house. Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.
This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second--3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.
Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousands tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them---Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen
Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch). 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere.
The lead pair of reindeer would adsorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a
dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.
Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar, and just as able to bear her freight to her destined port, as she was when she left my side. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And so it is in dying.
...and now for something a little more crass.
I recently received this from a friend of mine who worked on the Serenade of the Seas, a large passengers ships... Those who have done similar will certainly relate.
THE NIGHT BEFORE XMAS
'Twas the night before Xmas, and all thru the ship,
not a sound was heard - from the stern to the tip.
F&B and Housekeeping had all gone below,
the crew bar was closed with no where to go.
The crew were all quiet in their beds as the lay,
hoping that Xmas would be a Bahamian holiday.
The dancers had washed all their stockings with care,
and 3 drunken Steiners all passed out on the stairs.
Not a creature was stirring through out the Serenade-nation,
except for 2 Canadians trying to screw this Romanian.
The waste had been separated into red, yellow, and, blue,
to be recycled later and then served to the crew.
The dancers were all sleeping, we must but assume,
asleep in a bed, but not in their room.
The youth staff girls in their right rooms just the same,
having already finished the late night walk of shame.
The pursers were getting their much deserved rest,
some slept in their rooms, some behind the front desk.
The band had finished, the musicians prayer they all say,
'Oh Lord, don't let us be drug tested today!"
Our Royal Caribbean careers we know will go far,
As long as they don't make us pee in a jar.
The Steiners and Bar, asleep in their bed,
some giving thanks, and others giving ----
On such a holy night when Jesus was born,
even casino staff had stopped watching porn.
But then all at once we heard such a clatter,
we sprang from our bunks to see 'what the matter'
We all ran like crazy but not to Muster Stations, saying, "Screw the PAX!
We going straight to our final destinations"
He appeared like magic on the Promenade Deck clear,
in a ghostly life raft, pulled by 4 reindeer.
On Dancer, on Prancer, on Cupid on Blitzen!
All named for 3 Vegas strippers and a Romanian vixen.
His face was so pale, his skin an eerie hue,
he wore a high vis jacket and gay hat marked "Crew"
Our blood ran cold, as he spoke to us at last,
"I am the Ghost of Boat Drills Past"
The place that I come from let no man here mock,
where contracts don't end and there's no dry dock.
Everyday is a sea day in this place that I dwell,
And there is no early window in the cruise from hell.
Doomed forever to repeat this Ancient Mariners Rhyme,
"There will be a boat drill in about 5 minutes time.
And doomed forever to carry with me,
these heavy chains, and my shoes thru security.
Like the Hotel California, Royal Caribbean will but deceive,
you can sign off anytime you want, but you can never leave.
They will hold you to the last minute in their cold 'n icy grip,
and they might give you your flight # the day of your trip.
Now there's just one way this fate can be staid,
if on this Xmas night, a sacrifice is made.
If you don't wish boat drills 'til you're sick,
you must bring me a virgin youth staff chick.
Each Xmas, I must report, with regret,
after 10 years of looking, we aint found one yet!
Then a brave young shop girl stepped out from the crew,
"I am kind of a virgin, maybe I will do?"
Her butt was small and her breasts big and floppy,
all in all, she was one hot looking Shoppie.
"What do you mean, kind of a virgin?" asked the ghost from his raft.
I am not a virgin forward, but I am a virgin aft.
Said the Spirit, "The curse is lifted, she will do just fine!
So I leave you all, but not her behind."
And we heard him exclaim as they rode out of sight,
"Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night!"
But the last words he said filled us with horror,
"Remember all you fuckers… We got boat drill tomorrow!"
CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR THE DISTURBED
(and we all know that we have to be disturbed to go to sea in the first place)
1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?
2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are
3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas
4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and.....
6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why
9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?
10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder -- - Jingle Bells,! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells , Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Merry Christmas, everybody !