We are just about as happy as we want to be.
It’s Easter Sunday aboard the CS Ural. We are in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. There’s an extra sailor on the Bridge. The helmsman and two deck hands have spent the day scanning the horizon for any sign of approaching small craft. This is in addition to the two radar antennas which sweep the sea around us. The officer on deck watches the radar monitors for small green blips. You can feel the tension on Nav Deck. These are pirate waters.
Having left my perch on the Bridge I retired to my cabin thinking I might finish a biography of St. Catherine of Siena. There were pirates in Catherine’s day too. Some things don’t change.
I had just settled in with my book when I heard shouting echoing up the stairwell and the intermittent banging of something striking the ship’s hull. I looked out my porthole, but could see nothing. The shouting and banging were gaining intensity. If we were being boarded, why hadn’t the alarm sounded? The ship has a panic room, called ‘The Citadel,’ to which we can retreat, barricade ourselves, and live for five days with the supplies stored there. It has shielded communication equipment so we could summon help. Still … the din below continued.
Screwing up my courage, I ventured down the stairwell to investigate the source of all the commotion. Two storeys below me in the ship’s central tower is an empty deck. I’ve been using it as my velodrome, taking Ms von B down there for a daily afternoon spins. Today my velodrome had become a soccer pitch. Four of our officers had made impromptu goals from Styrofoam rubbish and were playing a spirited game of two on two, ricocheting the ball off steel bulkheads and loudly arguing the rules in Russian as they went along.
No pirates, just a bunch of kids with time and a ball. Silly me. Happy Easter.
(BTW, gentle reader, I do have photographs to add to all my entries, but can’t do so from aboard ship. Our electronics, alas, won’t support that much data. I’ll upload in Shanghai.)