You'll need:
My favourite meal in the whole wide world!!! Here is how to make the best Spag/Bol that is to die for...
500g prime mince
3 tomatoes
1 small can of Watties pasta sauce
2 medium onions
5 garlic cloves
6 or 7 large mushrooms
1 green capsicum
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp of mixed herbs
2 plucks of basil from the herb garden

1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup of hot water
200-300g spaghetti (pasta/noodles)
Colby or tasty cheese, grated

How to cook and serve up:
1. Peel and chop onions and garlic cloves.
2. Chop your mushrooms, green capsicum and tomatoes.
3. Heat saucepan with hot water in it then place mince in.
4. In another saucepan lightly fry onions, garlic, mushrooms, and capsicum for 5 minutes until onions turn clear and garlic starts to smell strong. The leave to simmer.
5. Fry mince until browned and it breaks apart into small clumps. Add fried vegetables to the mince. Add chopped tomatoes now.
6. Add pasta sauce and all herbs now. Mix ingredients well. Cover the saucepan and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add spaghetti, a little at a time. Stir and add a dash of olive oil to avoid sticking. Cook for 10 minutes or until just cooked through (no hard white centre). Drain and run cool water through spaghetti.
8. Serve spaghetti up on a plates, remove mince from the heat and pour over the spaghetti. Add grated cheese for garnish.

Spaghetti Bolognese is now ready to eat and enjoy!

Taught to cook and prepare by my Dad!

Night shift on a Passenger/Freight ferry

For the past 2 months I have been working on the night shift as 3rd Officer on a passenger/freight ferry in New Zealand. Night shift usually means that you get to see to sun set in the evenings as you start watch but because it is currently winter we don’t get to see the sun anymore. As well as that I have to mention the rapid decrease in temperature outside on deck.
The night shifts are 12 hour shifts which start at 1800 in the evening and finish up at 0600 the next morning. A typical night shift roster would be:
1800-1845: Cargo planning for the departure from Wellington-Picton.
1845-2000: Loading the ship in Wellington then mooring stations for departure.
2000-2330: One Officer drives and the other Officer prepares the next cargo load and conducts safety rounds of the cargo decks.
2330-0050: Mooring stations for berthing in Picton and then discharge and loading.
0050-0415: One Officer drives and the other Officer completes safety checks and safety rounds of the cargo decks.
0415-0600: Mooring stations for berthing in Wellington and then discharge before finishing your shift.
That is the structure of the night shift watch system. As for the day shift it is pretty similar work hours, all divided between two Deck Officers. The only difference is the day time sailing is for passengers and their cars and the night sailings are for Trucks and dangerous good cargo.

Winter Blues or Winter Warmers?

If you think you are cold at home in winter then try living and working on a ship where at sea the air temperatures don’t get a chance to reach positive double figures. Brrrhh… The only thing at sea which increases in winter is the amount or layers of clothing you wear when working. A set of thermals, woollen fleece, uniform shirt and jumper, wet weather jacket and pants, 2 pairs of socks, a scarf, woollen gloves and a beanie. Also in my case I have a mini hot water bottle which I fill up twice a day and place down the front of my shirt close to my heart (warm blood is them pumped from my heart around my body to my extremities) The coffee intake increases as well which also helps. Some mornings in Picton the temperatures barely reach 2 degrees Celsius. Trucks are even arriving on board the ship with ice and snow still on their tyres from the roads down south. Winter on the ship is a time when I don’t worry about what I look like in the way of clothing and appearance, if I’m all wrapped up like an Eskimo then in my case my warmth and comfort is far more important. I mean I don’t have to dress to impress anyone at work, the guys who I work with are co-workers and the average is around 45 years old. Most of them are if not the same age as my Dad or older! Thankfully winter only comes once a year and our summers down here are something for us to look forward to.

Shipboard Fire Fighting Circuit Training

As if I didn’t have a big enough work load already in my 17 hour shift! Stepping on board the ship on joining day and being met by the Captain with a little task to organise and carry out in two days time is not the usual way you are greeted when coming back to sea after three weeks off. A couple of months ago I was in this exact position. Don’t get me wrong I love my work and love the challenge of extra work but to organize a training session for 60 people in less than two days, you have to be joking! I had only been working on that ship for a month prior to being asked this so I had to learn a lot more about the ship and all its fire fighting equipment which it carried at the same time as preparing and writing up the training drill.
My task was to arrange a fire fighting circuit training drill for 60 crew members to be held one afternoon when the ship is alongside. I planned a circuit consisting of 6 stations with different fire fighting equipment, each with instructions of their use and a deck officer split between two stations. The training lasted 90 minutes and included hands on use of setting fire extinguishers off, fire hoses, foam and fog branches, donning fire suits and BA gear, the use of fire blankets and chemical suits and grab bags. The feedback was unbelievable. Cooks and stewards thanked me for giving their department a chance to set off fire extinguishers and hold a fire hoses when they were fully charged under pressure. The purpose of the training was to give all crew a chance to use the ship board fire fighting equipment and become familiar of its use in case they are needed to use it in an emergency.
Training is one thing that can never be overlooked at sea. It is an essential part of maintaining the safe running of a ship.

Life living on board a ship. What is it actually like for a woman?

I can answer this question from two perspectives. Life for a woman working on a deep sea trading ship and life as a woman working for Inter Islander on the Ferries. Both perspectives are from my own personal views.
Woman bring a unique touch into the maritime industry. I haven’t worked with only a couple of women in my sea career so from what I have been told woman bring a variety of competence to their job, pay a lot of attention to the finest details and they are highly reliable officers. The presence of even just one woman on board on a ship has proven to have an influence on the behavior of the other 17 male crew members. Enthusiasm for their job is just one of the many keys to enjoyment.
There will come a day when woman will be accepted into the maritime industry on the same level as males, as shown in the increase in woman seafarers, this is looking promising for the near future.
When this world eliminates all gender discrimination and all associated hurdles, we will hopefully be able to see more of woman employed and promoted in the maritime industry. On deep sea voyages you get a lot of time to yourself to think about your life and things that you want to do in the future. Have the opportunity to watch sun rises and sun sets every day from your workplace and even from your cabin window. On coastal voyages you are surrounded by glorious coastline and sea life and not to mention opportunities to go ashore and sight see. Working on the Inter Islander Ferries you work full time for 7 days and then get 7 days off afterwards. Talk about a great deal, equal time on time off. The ships cruise the glorious Queen Charlotte sounds and at the end of your week on board you can choose whether you get off the ship in Wellington or Picton to travel the south island.

4-8 on a Coastal Product Tanker

You can pretty much guarantee that my life each day on the 4-8 watch involved the same things, day after day after day. You get yourself into a routine and everything just starts to happen automatically after time. You wake up and go to sleep at the same time, meals were always at 8, 8am and 8pm. The afternoon nap wasn’t something that you planned it started to happen naturally no matter where you were. Yes that’s right. When I hopped off the ship for some time off I would instantly start to fall asleep at 3pm every day. If I didn’t I would find myself curling up in the corner somewhere just to try and get half an hour of shit eye. You were the same clothes, either bridge uniform, overalls or casual gear. You know who everyone is instantly form the distance by what shirt they were wearing. Being a woman you can mix and match things every now and then to avoid boredom. Things like doing different hairstyles. On many occasions I have braided my hair in over 40 little plats. It took me over 3 hours so it filled in basically an entire watch while we were deep sea.
Anyway my daily routine when on the 4-8 watch was basically set out as follows:
0330 – Wake up and get ready for watch.
0400 – Bridge or Cargo Watch commences.
0800 – End of Watch.
0815 – Breakfast, usually by myself.
0930 – Study.
1000 – Morning cup of tea.
1200 – If not doing safety checks or study then may have lunch.
1500 – Afternoon nap.
1530 – Wake up and get ready for Bridge or Cargo Watch.
1600 – Bridge or Cargo Watch commences.
2000 – End of Watch.
2015 – Dinner, usually by myself.
2030 – Study.
2200 – Try and be asleep before clock reads 2200.
Don’t you get bored of routine? What do you do to relax? Do you ever become complacent? These are just some of the many questions I get when explaining deep sea life to my friends and family. Going deep sea you get a lot of time to reflect back on your own life and also look forward to future plans that may happen. I had a friend who went deep sea for a few months and planned an entire world trip for him and his wife when he hopped off. The amount of time you get to pay attention to detail is incredible. Having no distractions around you so that you are able to focus on what you enjoy the most and having beautiful scenery to relax in at the same time makes it all worth while. Sure you do miss your friends and family with being away for so long, but the times that you get to spend together when you see them is like gold to you. You resort back to the old fashioned hand written snail mail letters which take a week or two to get back home when you do actually get into port and send them. Now days though most ships have caught up on the latest technology and internet accessible throughout most of the world. Emailing and even Skype. You can talk and see your friends and family while you are away on the ship so it actually feels like they are there with you.

Cherish both the calm and the rough

Its days like this that I cherish and days like this that I pray. Some people love fine weather and others need a bit of rough times to keep them focused on where they are going. Some people love rough weather so much that they get an adrenaline rush every time that a gale force storm is expected and they also get really bored with calm seas and sunny days. Me, I cherish and pray in both the calm and the stormy days
We need storms to be thrown our way every now and then to spice up life a bit and also so that we don’t get bored with to many calm times.

“It’s moments like these that we need minties.” I still remember this advert that used to be shown on TV.

Decision time - Now it's my turn

As I sit on a large bit of drift wood at the beach I gaze out to the ocean looking at sea extend further than we could imagine and then merge into the sky. The ocean and the sea, all seen as one. Where am I going in life and whom am I meant to be walking with? This bought me back to one of my previous posts of decision’s, decision’s, decisions. I have now come back to that point in my life where I have to choose between my career, my life’s calling and love. Am I to follow the soft fuzzy feeling that I get in my heart which makes me happy? Or do I pursue my career at sea? What am I to do and which way am I to turn? If I follow my dreams and my calling will I ever get to experience this warm fuzzy feeling again? If I leave the path which I am called down and go to where my heart smiles will this be the right way for me? Love verses Life! If I choose one way and then finds out tat it doesn’t work out am I able to turn back and try the other way or will it be too late? This is something which creeps up on most of us throughout our lives and it has crept up on me now so unexpectedly. What am I to do? I haven't the foggiest idea at this stage. All I can do trust my faith and the direction I choose to go in will be the right one for me.

Unexpected change ?

Have you ever heard people say that change gets sprung on you when you least expect it? Just wait till you work on the waters of Cook Strait in New Zealand. One minute it will be as clear as glass and then within less than an hour later it will be blowing a gale from the south. It creeps up unexpectedly and blows its way in before you even get time to turn around and head back to a safe haven. We have had days out there on Cook Strait where we think that everything is all glamour and rosey but then when you head back out again to cross the strait it can have changed just like that, no more red roses, more like custard. Cook Strait in New Zealand would have to have been the roughest and the most calmest seas that I have ever sailed in. The biggest seas I have even been in have been on Cook Strait and that was 10m seas, swell, with southerly 65 knots. The calmest has also been on Cook Strait where the seas look like a sheet of glass and you can actually look over the side of the bridge wing and see your reflection in the sea. Once you are out there you are committed to following through and battling your way through it. There is no turning back once you exit Tory Channel entrance. There is only one direction which you can go and that’s straight to the next port of call. So when people say that they have been hit in the backside by and unexpected change, just think of the poor rail ferries out there on Cook Strait battling southerly storms.