The sailing, the craft and that genuine feeling. But above all, a sense of community and the encounters with the people aboard!
As soon as you step aboard you will be assigned a watch team: starboard, port or amidships. You will follow your watch team’s working hours both at sea and in port.
At sea the watches are divided into the 12-4 watch, the 4-8 watch and the 8-12 watch, and these are the times you keep watch, both night and day. If you have the 12-4 watch at night, you also have it during the day, day after day. In other words when at sea, you are on watch for four hours, ‘off’ for eight hours and so on. To begin with it will be hard to get into the unfamiliar daily rhythm, but you get used to it – as with so much else on board. During your watch you will have a rolling schedule to follow, involving all kinds of jobs. When one person is at the helm, another is lookout, another does the fire rounds and yet another is the navigator’s assistant. Others work on deck setting, taking in or bracing the sails. Needless to say there are also ongoing maintenance tasks such as painting, tarring, cleaning and so on. Helping the cooks in the galley is something else everyone has to do.
One day might be absolutely glorious, with gorgeous sunshine and perfect winds. The next might be stormy, and you have to climb out onto a yard and furl a sail with the rain lashing your face. Work on deck can be quite demanding too. The majority of all sail work is done from the deck such as bracing, sheeting, and hoisting yards. There is a manually operated machine for making deck work easier, called a capstan.
However much you love sailing and being at sea, you’ll also find it great fun calling in at ports. The piers and quaysides are generally packed with people. Flags fly and people wave as the ship nears the quayside. In various ways we will do our best to make the ship interesting and memorable for the public, both aboard with exhibitions and tours, and also ashore with crafts, a shop and exhibitions. Sometimes you’ll be manning SOIC’s shop, and sometimes standing at the gangplank. For a sailor on the Swedish Ship Götheborg, these jobs are just as important as being able to tie a good bowline. The entire project is dependent on the goodwill and the income we generate during our port visits!
Being at sea sailing a ship is like being in a separate little world. You live in close quarters with the others on board, and hardly ever have a minute to yourself. Something that can obviously be quite a strain at times. The key is to be willing to compromise and help each other out. Life aboard will probably reveal new things about yourself.
Almost unanimously, previous deckhands say that they long to be back aboard the Götheborg. A voyage on the Swedish Ship Götheborg will be the experience of a lifetime!