The training went ahead. We could whistle the names of masts, tackles, sails and lines from bottom to top and from top to bottom. We flew past the Azores in strong Beaufort 5 winds. We neither had to tack or gybe. Our days were more and more determined by routine. The daily working week was from 08 until 17 o’clock with an hour lunch break. The deck watches – four hours each (00-04, 04-08 and 08-12 o’clock, etc.) – changed daily among the four trainee groups. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were ingested in our spare time, with two people in each group as stewards, who prepared the tables, got the food and washed dishes.
The personal body care and clothes care was affected by use of salt water. The soap does not foam and salt might not hurt brushing teeth, but the peppermint taste of the toothpaste is seriously ruined. A constant challenge was regular inspections of lockers, hammocks and our accommodation rooms.
In a locker as big as a suitcase, highest degree of order should prevail, and that was meticulously inspected. Doorsteps and other corners were checked with the finger and we were asked more than once: “What is it? Dirt!” Whatever complaint, the verdict for the whole corona was that everyone had to wait until night control, before they could hang the hammocks and go to sleep.
Slowly you get used to the awakening. The guards are usually awakened about 30 minutes before the start of their watch with the words: „Rise, all rise, get up! Lift up your rear, move the legs, everyone wants to be first“. There was no tolerance left over, you had to rise because with lots of noise and motion around there was no time to relax for another minute. It was most unpleasant and generally dangerous if you got kicked in your crutch while still lying in the hammock. Half asleep this is really difficult and wakes the desire to murder someone!
Meanwhile, the daily schedule has been pretty well established. Before night watch, you hastily stowed your hammock and 10 minutes before the changing of the guard you arrived portside in front of the mid-ship structures consisting of main mast, rudder and navigation-room,
near hold 2.
The watch being relieved stands on the other side on starboard. The old and the new officer in charge are standing on the middle deck and are looking down from 3 meters height. Then the helmsman strikes the ship’s bell, on the hour with four double strikes at four, eight and twelve o’clock. This signals the changing of the guard.