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 Betreff des Beitrags: Happy sailing!
BeitragVerfasst: 21. Dez 2009, 17:36 
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America!

Having toiled as a settler in Jordan valley for nearly ten years under harsh conditions with little to show for it, I got fed up with it and decided to start working on ships. I went through a stewards' course of half a year and then was admitted to the passenger ships of the Israeli ZIM lines.
After having sailed several months on the Mediterranean, in 1960 our ship sailed for the US for half a year cruises to the Caribbean islands.

It was hard to believe, here in November ’60 I was on my way to New York! As for the distance - it took the ship two weeks, with stopovers in the Mediterranean and Halifax - it could as well have been on Jupiter. But the excitement wouldn’t have been the same. Who needs those dead stones, when you are going to the center of the world!

But first I had to go through the rite of really getting to know the sea, by being introduced to seasickness. I had experienced something like it on my plane flight to Israel, but there we could at least sit and lean back, which made it easier on us. During our trip as apprentices the Mediterrenean had been smooth and first time passengers and we had been proud of our ‘sealegs’, everyone boasting that the sea did not affect him. Which was, of course nonsense, the ship advanced like a steady building in the calm seas and just being at sea doesn’t cause seasickness.
Now, while still in the Mediterrenean, we experienced the real thing! This sea can get very rough, specially in the Gulf of Lyon between France and Italy, where from time to time a wind called ‘Mistral’ is blowing violently down from the North.

The work on the way to New York, from where we were about to start the cruises to the Carribean Islands, carrying American passengers, was much easier than on the Mediterranean. The trip was far from fully booked and life was easy. As a beginner I was given menial work, mainly shining up the boat in preparation for the cruises. But I enjoyed doing it, as after the pressure of the former trips it was relaxing work.

I got my first shock, when, having departed from Naples, I went down a passageway inside the ship and the floor suddenly lifted. When it came down again, my stomach couldn’t follow so quickly and tried to stay on top. I said to myself “so that’s it, now lets see if I can pull myself together”. The next one lifted the ship much higher and almost double as much downwards, while one could hear the crashing of the waves over the bow. I just could hold on to a handrailing, in order not to sled down the length of the passageway.
After several repeats I tried desperately to reach a public washroom, hardly being able to keep the bile down. Somehow I just made it. As I had been doing some cleaning without any supervision, I sneaked away to my cabin and let myself fall on the bed, thinking I could never get up again.

After some time one of the other stewards that lived in our narrow cabin, which on today’s cargo vessels would be much too small for one crew member, chanced to come in.
“Oh, I see”, he exclaimed, “getting to know the real sea! Now you have to decide: You want to stay at sea? Then fight it! If you cannot force yourself up, you will never get used to it!”
“I don’t care,” I replied, “let them send me home, what do I need that for!”
“And what will you do at home? Work in hotels? You’ll be hardly be able to manage on that!” (Wages were lousy in these years) “Listen, I know exactly how you feel and I have felt the same. But you must overcome the breaking point! It is all in your mind. Lying in bed, you will never get used to it. ”

The thought of having to work again on meager wages made me pull myself together. I somehow succeeded to get upright, though I was overcome by nausea right away and had no choice but to use the washing basin. Finally I dragged myself back to work, pulling myself forward by the handrails against the changing G-forces. I wasn’t able to do much work, but at least I was on my feet. My head swirled in such a way that I was barely conscious. On the advice of others, I forced myself to eat, but nothing remained in my stomach. It took some two or three additional heavy storms to reach the point of adjustment. If I remember well, it happened inside seconds: One moment I felt lousy, the next the rocking and swinging movements didn’t affect me anymore.
Actually, even after you overcome the nausea, heavy storms are never easy on anyone: It is like working while climbing mountains one moment, the next one trying to avoid sliding downwards, with the directions changing constantly, mainly when the ship is rolling from side to side. The highest inclination I have encountered was over 45 degrees, where the walls and the floor are at the same angle. Imagine yourself on a ten-store high building, which is swinging rapidly in a long arc from side to side.

Old people use to say “that is nothing! In my time…”
Thus we had an old sailor who declared, “This you call a storm? In my time those were storms!”
There are people, who never get used to rough seas, yet they stay at sea. They say that Nelson was one of them. All the more I must respect him to have been able to command sea battles in this state, as I have felt what it means (to be seasick, not to lead sea battles).
But once we reached the Atlantic, the sea became like a mirror and we sailed to America in the finest imaginable weather, though this was November, at a time where you can expect the Northern Atlantic to really act up. Thus I soon forgot what was behind us and awaited eagerly our arrival in the ‘New world’.

To be continued


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 Betreff des Beitrags:
BeitragVerfasst: 22. Dez 2009, 13:01 
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In Halifax I got my first taste of the American continent and I enjoyed walking along these typical American streets, the like of which I had seen only in movies. I was specially impressed by the variety of merchandise offered in the stores.
From there we continued to New York.

I was moved when we passed the statue of liberty. For me it symbolized the mighty nation that had come over to Europe to free us.
After the passengers had disembarked, we had to clean up the ship thoroughly for several hours and after that we finally got our shore passes.
Some crewmembers that had already made some trips on the line took me along and when we got out of the subway at 42nd street I was overwhelmed and dazzled by the sea of lights I came up to. One must consider that at that time Israel was just starting to develop and life was still quite provincial (which may have been a blessing).
In Tel Aviv there was one new cinema that had some flickering lights going around the sign with the name of the movie. It was a sensation at that time and people came to have a look at it from all over the country.

But here I just stood gaping at all the richness and it was hard to decide what to have a look at first. The fellows decided to go to Radio City Music Hall, but when we came there we saw a line that went for about a third of a mile or more around the block. So we decided to go on, as we calculated that at the best we would reach the box office at noon the following day; but when we turned back, we realized that the queue was progressing at the same rate as we, so we decided to join it and we really got in within less than ten minutes. Here was where I got to know American efficiency for the first time. Up till then in Israel, as well as in Germany we had been used to it that the cashier was asking each one, which row he preferred, then would study the list; if there was no vacancy, he would suggest another row, in between he might make a phone call, finally he would fill in the particulars of your place with a pen, count your money and return change.
Here we just put some dollar bill, the cashier pressed a button, out came the ticket and your change and you went on. The price for a ticket at that time was $1.25 (for $1.50 you got a rich meal at ‘Hector’s’, a self service restaurant on Time square, which had a great variety of anything - no MacDonald style at all, more like Morrison’s if you know that one).

Radio City was at that time the most impressive thing I had ever seen (excluding the American bomber armadas of 1000 to 2000 planes, which had passed over us in WWII; I am talking about pleasantly impressive things).
First there were the ushers who instructed the crowd in singsong where to go. The elegant interior! The large hall whose floor was covered by deep carpets! The statues! That was the first time I was in a theater, where you didn’t have to stretch your neck in all directions to get a view of part of the screen. From every seat you had a perfect undisturbed view! And place to stretch your legs!
And the show itself! It started with an organ playing merry music; when its last notes died down they were taken over by the orchestra, which rose from below. The best entertainers available appeared, only one singer among them, the rest being a program of great variety, including the famous rockets, 40 girls stepping in perfect unision.
The orchestra concluded the show and its last notes were taken over by the movie, which was always one of the best and newest ones.
Radio City became a must for us at every trip. Alas, today the shows are not the same anymore and they don’t feature movies anymore, but it may have been adjusted to the taste of today.

In New York we were joined by the American entertainment staff and one Israeli singer, Shimshon Bar-Noy, who had been wellknown in Israel.
The passengers embarked and we set out for the Caribbean islands, including such places as Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Haiti and others.

The work here was much less stressful than on the regular Mediterranean run. There a total of 120 crew - including deck and engine crew - were serving 600 and sometimes more, passengers. Now we were a total of about 150 crew for 300 passengers and the atmosphere was much more relaxed, though we still worked many hours.
The American passengers were also much more pleasant than those on the Meditarrenean, but they expected good service and got it.


to be continued


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 Betreff des Beitrags:
BeitragVerfasst: 23. Dez 2009, 13:00 
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ruven hat geschrieben:


The work here was much less stressful than on the regular Mediterranean run. There a total of 120 crew - including deck and engine crew - were serving 600 and sometimes more, passengers. Now we were a total of about 150 crew for 300 passengers and the atmosphere was much more relaxed, though we still worked many hours.
The American passengers were also much more pleasant than those on the Meditarrenean, but they expected good service and got it.




I suppose only the very rich went cruising in these days. Maybe the Mediterranean passengers were less pleasant because there wern't enough crew members to make them feel pampered. Anyway I hope they gave you generous tips to make up for their unpleasant behaviour!


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BeitragVerfasst: 23. Dez 2009, 15:29 
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Of course, if you have less passengers to serve, there is less strain and you got more free time to smile and even converse with the passengers,while on the Mediterranean we were under constant pressure and nerves were raw.
Beside that while the Americans had certain demands, they were permanent and the staff knew already what they were, while on the Mediterranean you never would know what complaint would come up next.


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BeitragVerfasst: 23. Dez 2009, 15:37 
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And no - not only the very rich were sailing, there were quite a lot of lower middle class, some of whom had saved for years for getting out of New York for probably the first time. We also had less expensive cruises with fewer ports.


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BeitragVerfasst: 23. Dez 2009, 15:48 
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It is usually the opinion - and I have read it often - that service staff is being artifically friendly and their smiles are part of their job. As far as I have experienced, these people, if they are not under great pressure, as is usual in some places, really enjoy meeting all kind of people. It is part of what makes them choose this career. They enjoy conversing with their guests (each steward has his fixed tables or cabins with ‘his’ guests) and they will gladly tell about their families, if asked. There always developed a kind of friendship during the trip and passengers, who sailed again the following year, demanded to be seated at the table of ‘their’ steward and often I heard stewards boasting about ‘their’ passengers.

The American passengers were, to our opinion, naïve in a likeable way. They seemed to believe anything and our cruise director, Chick Segal, an American himself, knew to sell them anything. When the ship was late for arrival in New York he told them “Yes, I know, you were expecting to be home on time, and it may confuse your schedule, but there is a terrible storm on the way and our Captain had to go around it. Just imagine, he is willing to waste time and fuel, so you don’t have to suffer! A bravo for the Captain!” and he got it!

Another time we got inside in a storm and Chick explained “I know that you suffer, but we also know that you have to be home on time. So our Captain was willing to cut right through the storm, never having a chance to leave the bridge instead of making it easy to himself, to get you home in time. A bravo for the Captain!”

Once, shortly before arrival in Puerto Rico, the ship developed some engine trouble and it was necessary to remain three days in that port for repairs. That was quite a problem: The passengers had bought tickets for certain ports and might feel cheated. On the other hand the ship had to be back on time in New York for the next trip, or it would throw the whole schedule into confusion.

So Chick assembled the passengers and informed them that they had received news that yellow fever had broken out in Haiti, our next port. But the captain saw it as his duty to the passengers to go there; actually it was a quite drab place with not much to do, while here in Puerto Rico there were night clubs, beaches, everything. Maybe the passengers had a suggestion?
“Stay here!” they demanded.
Chick scratched his head “Ok I’ll try to persuade the captain.”

Once we had to take on an injured crewmember from a cargo vessel. It was a quite easy procedure, as the sea was calm and the crew of the lifeboat had no trouble at all to get the man from his ship and transport him to ours. But Chick on this day had only words of praise for the ‘gallant captain’ and his 'heroic crew’! I aped him behind his back by telling some passengers “I am your heroic steward!”

As I reported earlier about sex life in the kibbutz, it is only fair to tell at least a bit about that on passenger ships.
It may be that the atmosphere about ships was specially relaxing or that passengers came on board inspired by all the romantic tales about life at sea and had certain expectations. At this time there still was a romantic aura surrounding the officers in their smart uniforms, they were expected to show themselves as often as possible in the first class lounge (where all the passengers were permitted during cruises)and take part in the dancing and parties. Officially it was forbidden to associate with passengers above a certain limit, but the company turned a blind eye to transgressions, knowing them to be good for business and many ladies, be they single or young ladies accompanying their parents, seemed to expect erotic relations to be included in the price of the ticket.
Of course, there were not enough officers to go around and in no case could an officer dare to change ladies during the trip and thus causing a scandal, but the rest of the crew were only too willing to help out above the call of duty and without expecting overtime pay and thus every dark corner on board was usually fully occupied. The stewards could partake in this only at the cruises, where the work was more relaxed; on the regular runs there was no time for hanky-panky.

This reminds me:
When I had just started as Chief steward on a small passenger ship, the purser, who was the head of the steward department, told me “bring to the lady in room 22 a piece of soap” I turned to a steward and told him to do that.
“No,” my boss told me “you go!”
“Since when is this my job?”
“Idiot,” he replied, “ she asked for you, she is already naked. I started with her but it didn’t work.”
I could well imagine why, as this particular lady was quite a hag with a loud mouth and reminded one of a bulldog. I fancied myself as still having a certain freedom of choice and refused, which got the purser angry: “If a passenger demands from the Chief steward to be laid, it is his duty to comply, else we get complaints about service, food and what else!”
Seems there is more about good service than meets the eye.

Actually on another trip we had a quite mature matron in one of the two luxury cabins, which never ceased complaining. Just before arrival at the final destination, the purser passed her when she came out of her cabin and said jokingly - as if he hadn’t known:
“Oh, if I had known that you were here all alone I would have come for a visit”
“That would have solved a lot of problems!” replied the matron.

After we returned from the cruises in May ’60, we went again on this horrible Mediterranean line and I considered to give up and start working in a hotel, but just in time I was transferred to the First class bar, where – though the working days were just as exaggeratedly long, work was less hectic and more interesting, as one had also more time to converse with passengers. Of course, a steward never started a conversation, except taking orders, but the passengers were usually the ones that started and that was allright.
I really got to know people, mainly as I had to learn which types might run away without paying. I was personally responsible for the amount due for the drinks and on my first day I had to add four Dollars, which was quite a lot at this time and if I wouldn’t have learned quickly how to assess people, I could not have afforded to remain working in the bar. We were not allowed to demand payment right away, but could only come with the account, when a passenger was about to leave; quite a lot forgot that there was still a bill to pay. Many changed tables during the evening and you really had to do all kinds of mnemomics to remember who owed what.
It was very interesting to get to know all the different kinds of wines, drinks and cocktails.
Still in ’61 I got really fed up with this kind of life, but when I asked to be paid off finally, the company suggested that I should sail as a cadet instead and become an officer, which I finally did and thus - except for a break of three years in 1970 - spent all my working life at sea.


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BeitragVerfasst: 24. Dez 2009, 20:02 
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As I said before, the pace on the Mediterrenean line was extremely hectic and exhausting. In fact, more exhausting than the physical work as settler, where, though you had quite a workload, no one was pushing you.
In the diningroom two stewards were responsible for the dining room’s laundry: Table cloths, napkins, towels etc. They handled this during breakfast and joined the service only at 11.30 am. As they were so busy other stewards had to prepare their tables before they themselves came to the diningroom. One could see that they worked under even higher pressure than the other stewards, filling bags with tablecloths, carrying them to the laundry store and bringing back fresh stuff. From time to time one of them came rushing into the diningroom looking around for something undefined, making notes and again disappeared.

At the end of one trip, one of the two told me that the other one was paying off in Haifa and asked if I was willing to work with him. I replied, the pressure as it was right now, was all I could take and I surely was not looking for more. He told me not to be silly and I should try; not everything was as bad as it looked, in the worst case I could just stop working with him and he could do nothing about it. In the end I was willing to try.

On the first morning, we stuffed last night’s laundry into bags and carried them to the lift, which took us down to the store, where we got the fresh stuff. We took that back to the diningroom and sorted as much cloth as the locker could take on its shelves. That had all been quite easy and I now expected the hectic part to begin.
“Thank you,” my partner said.
“Welcome, what do we do now?”
“Now we go to our cabins, have a good rest and each of us runs, whenever he feels like it, to the dining room, acting ‘busy’!”

There I learned my first fact in real life: People don’t appreciate what you really do, but what you seem to do.
On the other hand over the years I also learned that what seems to be the job of a ‘parasite’ you may often find to involve much more, once you have to do the job yourself.

I used the ‘looking busy’ technique once, when I was already an officer. At this time the Israeli navy was dependent on the support of the merchant navy.
During one of the manoeuvres, our cargo vessel was the ‘flagship’, loaded with high officers and soldiers. Somehow I was left with nothing to do. Out of boredom, I started rushing around, noting things, seeming to calculate etc. Soon I heard some soldiers comment that I was the busiest man on board and one top sergeant, with whom I had become friendly, confided that he couldn’t exactly put his finger on what I was doing, but it almost looked as if I was running the show.
I also appeared quite often on the commanding bridge, to which the navy and army officers did not object, as they knew that I was of the ship’s staff and if I was there, of course I had some ship’s business, while our captain thought, that I was coordinating things with the army.
In any case, he thanked me for my dedication at the end of the exercises.


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: Happy sailing!
BeitragVerfasst: 25. Nov 2019, 19:17 
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:regie Happy sailing! :wiwi

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Man umgebe mich mit Luxus. Auf das Notwendige kann ich verzichten.


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: Happy sailing!
BeitragVerfasst: 25. Nov 2019, 19:18 
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343 hits :nick

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