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Dutch member Rudolf Roozendaal says it’s crucial to have a sense of humour, as well as a fair amount of patience, while working at sea
We all have a lot of hard work to do onboard and, for my part, I know that that without humour I wouldn't be able to keep up with it.
In addition to loading and unloading, navigating, external communication and taking care of the maintenance of the ship, my work consists of receiving crew members messages. These might be about an extra payment or a request to go home, but more often it concerns a report that something isn’t working properly. It’s implied that it is up to me to come up with an immediate solution.
Since my magical abilities are insufficient to make spare parts or supplies appear onboard at will, it is important to keep a cool head. The only time I saw red was when the cook came to me on the first day of an Atlantic crossing to report that he had just one pack of coffee.
The vague message 'it doesn’t work' offers no perspective whatsoever. A deeper analysis of the problem is needed to come up with a solution.
A report recently came in that the washing machine in the laundry was broken. This machine and the one for work clothes are the only two washing machines onboard, so I asked the master to see if there was still life in it.
During the morning, the master disassembled the washing machine, removed it from its place, cleaned all the filters and piping and did a reset by completely cutting off the power supply. During his coffee break he downloaded the manual, although this took an excruciatingly long time due to the speed of the onboard internet.
After studying the glowing lights on the display and after four hours of tinkering, the master concluded that the appliance had the child lock activated. Pressing the correct two buttons on the display at the same time reversed it.
Eight man-hours gone.
It’s never become clear which of us managed to accidentally set the child lock on the washing machine. That doesn't really matter either. For the rest of my term, the question 'is the child lock on?' became a running gag that kept us all laughing.