While on this long trip with nothing much to do except reflect on the vast ocean which stretched much further than the eye could see was an awesome time to meditate on the this very unusual watery world.
It has been said that all sailors are believers in the Spiritual. There is so much evidence of eternity. There is also so much time to think. Just to reflect and wonder about God and His creation. At night when the sky is clear of clouds there is no smog from polluting factories and traffic to blur the atmosphere. The stars and galaxies are visible with sparkling clarity from horizon to horizon. There is nothing man made to distract one apart from the throbbing sound of the engines and the floating home that is protecting and transporting us from continent to continent.
From time to time one would pass vessels going in the opposite direction using the same shipping lanes as ourselves. At night we would amuse ourselves flashing a signal in Morse code to all those phantom passers by. What ship? Where bound? All sailors are meant to know and practice the code and we would show off our ability to send and read the replies that came flashing back in longs and shorts. "Julia Bay bound for Santos."
One day I was on watch and Irmgard and I prayed for something unusual to happen in the vast surrounding ocean. We told the 1st Officer that we had prayed and then it happened. A solitary whale was swimming in the opposite direction giving way its whereabouts with the tell tale water spout spurting up in the air as it cleared its nostrils. The Captain was summoned training his binoculars and exclaiming that this was very rare at this time of the year. He knew as he had made this trip so many time in all kinds of weather. Normally the whales would be traveling in schools like herds of elephants in a totally different part of the Ocean. Maybe this one had got lost? It made a welcome change and distraction.
When we crossed the equator, a sailor dressed up as Neptune and we all drank a brandy to commemorate the occasion.
As the days passed we all began to get to know each other and I have to admit there was a very good spirit on the ship and I think this was largely due to the Captain as he was a good person handler and put everyone at their ease, and yet kept his dignity and authority. There were no fights or arguments among the crew and the morale remained high at all times.
The cabin steward Paulo took very good care of us and we were careful to clean our own area and keep it spick and span. He would reward us with an extra Cappuccino for our efforts.
During all 22 days the weather remained amazingly calm which was a real boon as having experienced rough weather in a small ship when I was in the Royal Navy was no joke.
On Friday evenings we would gather for a film. The one I remember well was the Poseidon Adventure the story of a ship that capsized at the mercy of a giant tsunami wave. It was quite a spiritual movie and showed the wisdom a of a small child who against all odds lead his little team of followers in the opposite direction to the well trained ship's officers and even the priest. A little child will lead them would be an appropriate Bible quote.
Our ship was ladened with Containers which were packed tightly below decks down to the hold and towered up nearly to height of the bridge giving the ship an unusual cuboid look.
Some amusing anecdotes from our time in Brazil...
When we would ask people we met to repeat the simple prayer to ask the spirit of Jesus to come into their hearts, we would say something like the following. We knew the prayer well in Portuguese but many would ask to say the prayer in English so as to practice some English with us. On one occasion a man was proudly repeating the words "And give me eternal life" but his rendering was "Give me everything I like!" As we often talked to people about India, one other person for the same prayer said "Give me Indian life!" It was very hard not to crack up and laugh.
Yes we were going to miss Brazil very much and we had a very wonderful time with these exceptionally nice people coming from all over the world. There were communities from Germany and Japan rather like the USA and the Brazilian Portuguese had a flair of its own rather like the USA English to England's English.
Now what on earth were we going to do when we arrived in Genoa? One question was what to do with these three cumbersome trunks of baggage? After all our destination was India not Italy. Leaving the baggage in a port left luggage department would be exorbitantly expensive.