After a great nights sleep, I awoke at first light. Eager to start my day I jump off my top bunk and quickly dress trying to be quiet as Julia was still asleep. Opening the door I check to see if anyone is around. All was quiet so I head down the hall to the bathroom. I suddenly realize that I’ve never had to share a head (bathroom) with strangers before. This I realized, was one of many new things I would have to get use to.
As I head down the stairs I smell coffee and bacon. Greg is in the galley cooking. “Good afternoon” he says. “What do you mean, good afternoon, its only 6:30” I reply. A couple of the guys were at the table and chuckled. I would soon learn this is one of Greg’s favorite quotes. He is usually up between 3 and 4 am working on his computer. By six or so he is ready to eat and start the day. Having prior anxiety about my first day I was ready to dig in and make a good impression. Before I poured my first cup of coffee, Greg suggested I just observe how a “pro” cooks breakfast. “Are you kidding, I’ve cooked a million breakfasts and cooking for seven I can do in my sleep.” I reply as I lightly shove him aside. For the next few minutes we begin bantering (a bit loudly) about who is the more experienced and better cook. As I look over at the guys I notice they are a bit taken aback. I guess they had never heard anyone talk back to “the boss”. He is my brother I thought, and we’ve always had the kind of relationship where we could kid around with one another. Now I realize, I had to figure a way to be one of the crew and try and separate Greg being both my brother and my boss. This was going to be tricky.
After breakfast I took a walk around the deck with Greg and Julia to get a better feel of the work being done. I was shown the sacred area, the connix room that housed the rov (remote operating vehicle). It was one of the most expensive and necessary pieces of equipment we had. The room was about 20′ long and had three or four computers, screens and other pieces of equipment. This is where it all happens. In simple terms (I was still trying to learn all the ship jargon) Greg explained how once the rov was in the water, the pilot used a control box to maneuver its position. He was able to watch it on one of the screens. Outside the room was a small area with a monitor that allowed the crew to also view it while it was all happening. I couldn’t wait until I was able to watch the entire process firsthand. Being able to see it as it was happening, the shipwreck, the marine life, all at 650′ was incredible!
As we continued around the deck, the guys were busy scraping and painting different areas The hull had been professionally painted but the rest was up to us . Greg excused himself to take a call (one of hundreds he received on a daily basis) I never liked painting but was ready to jump in so I offered to help. I was given the area on the bow of the ship where the anchor is launched. As I started painting I was feeling really relaxed. The southern sun was heating up quickly and it felt great. Every once in awhile one of the guys would come around with a bit of advice or small talk. They seemed to be warming up to me and it gave me a chance to get a glimpse into their personalities. I’ve always considered myself a good judge of character and while Greg and Julia had already given me their assessments of each one, I wanted to come to my own conclusions.
By 11:00 or so I decided to head inside to find Greg. I had some questions about lunch and what kinds of meals I should prepare. I found him in front of his computer drinking a cup of coffee and smoking (something I would see quite often). He gave me a couple tips about what the crew liked and didn’t like. He asked that I go through the galley and make a list of things I might need and that we would plan a shopping trip the next day. Once again we were interrupted by his phone, so I left and headed to the galley to prepare lunch.
After lunch I decided to do some cleaning on the inside. When Greg had called me about cooking, he explained that the crew picked up after themselves and that cleaning would not be one of my responsibilities. However, I could see throughout the ship that clean to the crew was not exactly my kind of clean. I had been a mother of two and ran a busy and active home and all that it entailed. So I did what came naturally. For the next few hours I washed walls, cleaned windows and organized. The guys took turns coming inside to take a break from the heat or get a cold drink. I could see in their eyes that they really appreciated that I, too, was working hard. I was starting to feel a bit more comfortable and had no doubts that in time, I would fit in quite well.
Though I was exhausted, I I decided for dinner I would make my infamous potato salad and fried chicken. I set the table with plates, silverware, napkins and glasses. Previously they ate cafeteria style. They would come in at different times, get their own plate, fill it from whatever was cooking on the stove and then take a seat. I was hoping to create a different type of atmosphere. Though they had been away from home for months, I was hoping to bring a little bit of family to the ship. What better way I thought than sitting together and talking about our day with a nice meal. When I called Greg and the crew for dinner I could tell from the smile on their faces that they were going to like this new set up. It was a good first day.