The South Atlantic is mostly peaceful up to the ‘roaring forties”, the wind belt, which lies off Antarctica. Anyway, this time we were working on deck, eating on the deck, very often sleeping on deck to say the least. Sometimes there were also classes, which then took place in the trainee accommodation spaces. So the lesson yesterday was about the art of sailing. “You all have already once had an orange core between thumb and forefinger”, the teaching naval officer said, “If you then increase the pressure between the two fingers, it makes snap that what sailing is all about.” What he meant was that pressure, (the water on the leeward side of the hull) generates (the wind on the sails) back pressure, causing the propulsion of the ship. That was snap! Well, we knew that it was pressure
generation, which kept us on our going every day.
Unexpectedly, we received learning material from South America, barely a week after crossing the equator and a week before arriving at Montevideo. For days, the sailors had been standing by to devote themselves to duck hunting. However, the day before yesterday none came, none came yesterday and today parrots came instead of them.
It was a flock of several hundred birds. They were colorful; approximately 30 cm long and spoke a language which some thought was Portuguese. Surely, wasn’t Brazil, after having been discovered, called the land of parrots? Each of us, let’s say 75%, and certainly not the captain and sail makers (who once had a canary), grabbed and secured his trophy in a quickly-made box or with a secure tape in a safe place, for instance in the shower room. Who didn’t catch one, was without a bird, because the others flew away soon.
Now palavering between bird owners and their birds was inexhaustible while they were off-watch. We generously received from the backers cook mate parrot supplies with a tip that we had to understand that he could cut our ratio accordingly what had to be understood as his security measure against the captain and purser. We are not starving, the parrots enjoyed their personal meals and tried to entertain us, but we only understood Spanish Even the people from the crew initially dealt with duck hunting setting their nets aside and devoted themselves to the guests. Soon, they knew more German than we knew Portuguese, which was also pointless because in Montevideo everybody spoke Spanish.
Everyone enjoyed the variety, not so much the ship’s command. They were quickly aware that this could mean a breach of hygiene regulations, quarantine for the ship, banned from port. Thus, the Pamir was advised by the German consulate in our port of destination and from the shipping company Zerssen in Rendsburg on the Kiel-Canal that the birds must be freed one day before arrival in Montevideo and two hours before sunrise; but at least more than three miles off the Uruguayan coast. They would fly away, if it happens with the rising sun in the back of them, and they could find the saving shore safely. With great understanding the instructions were followed. Without a single parrot in our ranks, we reached the harbor of Montevideo on Thursday morning to unload our coal on barges coming alongside.
The port period was short this time, unspectacular and black. Coal dust was cleared and sweeping thoroughly, this dominated our stay at the anchorage. The change consisted of football ashore, where we went, whenever there was a possibility. That we were quite successful against the home teams in part this could easily be connected to our full carbon dust clothes and the resulting fear of body contact in man to man duels. Beyond that we did not spare strong words.
However, we were very astounded when we heard from the opponents: “You stupid bugger” or “You must be nuts”. We asked how they could know so much German; we learned that they had picked up the way from some stupid parrots who were hanging around here. Obviously, we had had to deal with two species very gifted to languages, in the last days.