Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Don of Viareggio

Last night I ventured out with our Senior Deckhand to show him some of the sights of my second home. Kai is a German who moved to Spain at the age of 17. This is a charming mix, after subjecting himself to the terror that is the Euro vision song contest we left at the very Spanish time of 11pm.

We needed some money to finance our tour and we walked the long walk to the nearest ATM. I was taken by the smell of trees blossoming and a very full moon. After collecting some money we visited the Red Lion English pub for a couple of drinks. It was here we met one of my favourite notable local personalities. Luca the taxi driver.

Luca has had a rough time recently. He has been laid off work for forty days and was involved in an altercation which has lead to him laying charges with the police. I gave him two of my ears and made reassuring noises to the best of my ability.

At some point it was decided that we should go to a friend of Luca's party. Luca offered to take us on his scooter. He taught Valentino Rossi how to do wheelies. This was decided as being a bit fool hardy, Germans, Italians and Kiwi's should not ride 3 on a scooter. Luca promptly went home and got his taxi.

He arrived 15 minutes later and had a special treat. Oysters! Luca then proceeded to tell us how he is the Don of Viareggio. Hence the oysters. I was told not to worry about wearing my seat belt. I have discussed Italians and seat belts before. Luca has the seat belt buckles ready to plug in with out the belt. This turns off the annoying noise modern cars make when you do not wear a seat belt. I did not think this was very clever, but it was very Italian.

We drove into the hills to a lovely place. It was a great drive, small country lanes. Impressive stone works. Luca offered to stop somewhere and we could steal some marble blocks from a yard. Do not worry, he is the Don of Viareggo.

We eventually ended up at the bar where the party was not. It had finished. We did get to see a man sweeping the pavement. I took a couple of photos.

Dark tree

Luca got very angry at the party being finished and rang his friend to abuse him. I learned some more useful Italian.

Luca mid rant

I can now say suck my dick in Italiano.

We then left to visit the best club in the surrounding area. I forget its name but it had a two hour queue. The best way to visit is to book a table in advance.

Luca tried to sneak us in through the beach entrance. We were found by security and we left with our dignity maligned.

We headed back to Viareggio where things got a lot better. Viareggio is quite a happening place in Summer. I do believe I might have danced quite a lot and may have drunk tequila.

The moral of this story?

The Don of Viareggio should never leave it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The El Fuerte Supplmental

Note: I wrote this supplemental before El Fuerte left me. Now he has gone I thought it was time to tidy it up and publish for his merriment and hopefully yours.

The continuing revelation that is El Fuerte deserved a supplemental entry to help explain this smouldering enigma from Spain.

With more research I have discovered some defining points of his life which have shaped him.

El Fuerte goes crazy at the mere mention of water parks. Water should be enjoyed with others.

Following successful football games the people of Vigo descend upon America square to engage in wild celebrations including a huge communal bath in the otherwise lonely fountain.

If Spain wins the world cup, the wild communal baths will drench the region and possibly cause a flooding of biblical proportions.

The horse hatred is learned at an early age in his region of Spain. Witness this 'celebration' it is from El Fuerte's region as well.

El Fuerte is also gangster. He preformed a wedding rap at his wedding. So bad .

Spain has successfully ripped off American comic books. They even have a super hero called Captain Spain instead of Captain America. El Fuerte is currently applying to be in survivor Spain. His plan is to win and to buy a small island, maybe Australia or part of new Zealand

I shared navigation watch duties with El Fuetre. He had an interesting taste in music. In between rock and pop we got to listen to Spanish power ballads. My formidable Espanola skills let me pick out words but they were helpfully translated for me.

Some of the better lines were.

I will dance on your grave
I would rather be a pirate

Some song a famous guy wrote about three muggers who left him alone on the condition that he wrote a song about them.

Never talk history with El Fuerte. Spain still owns half of the world you see. I think the Spanish discovered New Zealand as well. They just found a disturbing lack of siesta and went somewhere else for a sleep.

In the last weeks in El Fuerte's company there was a worrying trend.

He started to swear a lot. He started to take the piss a lot. He also was very worried about watching the world cup.

El Fuerte's exit was probably carefully timed. He had started to become weak like Uncle Fil and I. Safely in Vigo he will be able to watch football uninterrupted by wash downs. He can kill horses in peace. He can take a communal bath. He can even rap on the streets.

Adios fuerte. Que el caballo sea con vosotros.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Deckhands Log #11 Wifeless, Dutch Terriers and El Fuerte's Grande Salida

Once again I am Wifeless. A strange situation that is also familiar. Anna has got a temporary job on an explorer class yacht that is travelling through Norway and the Arctic circle. She is having a great time and I am very happy for her. She is on a predominantly English speaking boat. This is exactly what she needed. I am on a growing more German speaking boat every day. More about that later.

Enjoy some photos Anna took on my old iPhone. Now I am travelling through her.


In the mean time I have been enjoying a very tumultuous time on the Yacht I still work on. I say still because from the original crew that left Viareggio with her in January only three will remain on Saturday.

There have been a lot of shake ups, shake downs and shake offs. One of the new faces is our Chief Officer Victor. Victor is from the Netherlands and is a knowledgeable type of bloke. He is also prone to barking, being rude and is extremely humpy. I now know that this is a charming Dutch trait. Apparently. Hence the Dutch terrier moniker.

During our recent charter Victor liked to spot things that were wrong and tell us we were fired. He also yelled a lot. I have been very lucky in my career that I have only worked with a couple of people that liked to yell a lot. He actually yelled so much that my wit had had enough after two weeks.

We had just left Nice and were sea fastening all of our furniture. We were on the sun when the Captain had to toot the air horns to signal to another vessel. The air horns are very loud and we all got a bit of a fright. Victor turned up a few minutes later to check and see if we got a fright. I casually remarked.

"The air horns were not that bad. We have had to listen to you yelling for the last while."

This went down a treat and it is good to know that Victor can take a joke when he is not yelling.

In a not related but still quite interesting note. Did you know there are people on this very earth that do not know who Billy Connolly is?

I sent our Chief Stewardess off to France with Billy Connolly giving orders on my TOM TOM. She now knows who Billy Connolly is.

In very freaking sad and unbelievable news but also understandable. The rock of the deck. The man who could move mountains. The happiest and most tranquil nice person I have ever met in the Northern Hemisphere. David "El Fuerte" Lopez is leaving us.

David has listened to me and Uncle Phil, bicker, rant, bullshit, tell tales, mock one another, cry and generally be crazy for six months. He has always been here for us and I am selfishly worried of what might happen with David not here.

We have been trying very hard not to be sad and have given some thought to what would be the ultimate send off for David. The list is now three weeks long but here are some of the highlights.

Apertifs at Hippo Campo
Pre dinner beers at the Red Lion
Dinner at Steakhouse Paradiso
Cocktails at Roccos's
Pre party communal bath at the nearest fountain
After bath photo shoot with a horse statue
Donning of T-shirts with David's photo on
Three man carnival down the passigata
Clubbing till dawn somewhere.

Uncle Phil will then begin his Holiday and David will fly home. I will start washing the boat with out them. Stink.

David's wife who is a huge fan of my blog sent me this nice message.

This is a message to Filip and Dan, David's farewell Do not do anything crazy from that can go to jail, that you know what you are planning, I want him to come home ehhh
Have fun, and I hope you to come to Vigo sometime. (Dan I invite you too, I'm thinking auqnue make me eat.) Here I will pass it very well.
A big kiss to both, Thanks for taking care of my husband.

He will not end up in jail but that would be a neat way to have him stay. Maybe not.

I actually have a long story about El Fuerte which is almost finished. I will publish it in the next week or so.

It is nice to be back in Viareggio. I have spent more time in Viareggio than any other place in the last couple of years. I know people here. I have a local pub. I am kind of a big deal here.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


The origins of this meme were germinated a long long time ago by Uncle Phil and myself. Sit back and relax. Keep your eyes open and you will soon understand PANIC, RAGE, INTERNET , MONEY!!!.


Panic is the last thing you want on a multi million dollar vessel. Panic leads to mistakes and mistakes lead to accidents. Invariably panic begins inside. It grips people and spreads like wild fire. Forget Chinese whispers, PANIC shouts a whole new tune. Forget living the dream. Live the PANIC!

I am not sure why Panic is everywhere. I think incredibly rich people are not earthy bound as we mortals are. This leads to unreasonable demands, a lack of planning, emotions and a fertile breeding ground for Panic.

The best thing to do in such situations is to just say PANIC in a falsetto yell, wave your arms around your head. Turn circles if at all possible.


A failure to panic leads to RAGE. Some people enjoy seeing panic. I am not sure why this is. There are books ready to be written about this very subject. I am a quiet rager. But sometimes I feel the need to vent my frustrations. This is usually after a few beers. It can involve flapping my arms around. Maybe one day I will fly away.


Our Chef often threatens us with starvation. We laugh this off, knowing there are chocolates on board in the guest cabins and we could catch fish if we were really hungry. I am betting the non NZ crew would eat my Marmite if they got really hungry

Take away the crew internet however and things would rapidly descend into chaos. I know this. I am the most powerful person on board.


Money is the root of all evil, but we all know if we are in a shit situation and given more money. Things will get better. Won't they?

So that is it. A complete venting sentence. Self contained and ready to go. The next time things are looking grim say PANIC, RAGE, INTERNET, MONEY! and feel your worries wash away.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Back at Sea

We cast off from Genova this afternoon. After being away from the ocean for a wee while it was nice to feel the satisfying uneasiness that is the rolling ocean. All things considered we left the dock ok. Neither our Captain or Chief Officer had driven RoMa before. I think El Fuerte was really the Captain, Spanish precision is awesome.

For the next few days we will be doing what is called the Med milk run. Up and down the French Riviera from Monaco to St Tropez.

Wish us luck. We might need it.

Monday, 10 May 2010


Back once again with the somewhat confused and very busy master.

Obviously the tasty bait for you in my previous paragraphs worked. Let me get you up to speed as I write down what has been going on.

I returned to RoMa on Wednesday the 28th. Things were as normal as they ever are. We had a lot of work to do and we were very lucky to get a day off. I had the following Monday off work and spent it with my Wife who is looking for a better job.

At about 6pm we gatecrashed a crew party at the Genova charter show and things were ticking along quite nicely until Uncle Phil gave me a call.

Dan! you have not been getting my messages have you?

No Phil I have not. What is up?

Jeeesus. The Captain and Chief Stewardess have been fired. We have guests on board. We have a new Captain and Chief Stewardess. Enjoy the rest of your day off.

Naturally I found it very hard to enjoy the rest of my day off and I made a quick stumble home to the boat to find out what had happened.

All of the crew were drinking and smoking by the crew entrance in shock. I found myself smoking and drinking as I got myself up to speed. I do not smoke, but I figure sometimes it pays to smoke, like after the birth of a child or in extraordinary circumstances.

The good news to come out of all of the changes for myself is that I have had a promotion. I am now the Electronics Technology Officer. What does this mean?

Well I am now officially responsible for all of the technology on board. I was unofficially responsible before. I now have my own email address. Something I have wanted for as long as I have been here. I also have a work laptop, I have had one of those before.

I have also been spending a lot of time inside. Something that is not lost upon El Fuerte and Uncle Phil.

We have lost and gained a lot of crew in the past few weeks. We have a new first officer from Holland. We have three new stewardess's. We have a lot more people who speak German. I have only really worked with one German before in any capacity. Do you know how often people from New Zealand use 'like a Nazi in everyday speak. Luckily I save my work place angst for my blog.

Which reminds me. For the last six months my previous Captain was reading my blog. Do you know how frustrating it is to have your Captain reading your blog? The amount of times I have had to bite my fingers beggars belief.

Still change is good. Let me list some of the positive changes

We are going to start having wine with our meals.

After our first officer bought some pink shammies the Captain bought us all pink caps. I think the shammies are more of a lavender purple but who am I to argue with such a good opportunity to take the piss.

We are going to have some training courses paid for.

We can make suggestions and they might get taken up.

Like everything, the proof remains in the pudding. Maybe I will get some pavlova soon.

In the mean time, enjoy some photos of Genova from my crew printer buying expedition on Saturday.

Archway of some importance I hope.

Beautiful building. I could own that.

Genova has these interesting garden things going up the side of hills all over the place.

Finally some art work. Photos are in reverse chronological order. Or barclangers or what ever Swedish people say. I hope they are still reading.

We are now off to Monaco for the Grand Prix. After the Grand Prix we will be going back to Viareggio. Viareggio is about as New Zealand as Italy gets.


Monday, 3 May 2010

Back in Europe

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.


During my time in New Zealand I struggled to think what I missed about Europe.

Aqua Frizzante
A handful of people.

However once I got back in Europe I did start remembering the things that I like. The first alarm bell was the smile that slipped out when I heard a French flight attendant say Bon Jour.

This downward spiral continued on the taxi ride from Nice to the train station.

I got on the train ok and befriended the only Australian. He was going to join a Yacht in Genova. He had never travelled to Italy by land. I dazzled him with my impressive Italiano, helped him get a train ticket, Panini and even helped him with his luggage.

I grudgingly accept I actually quite like Italy. I like the oldness of it. I like the chaotic up and downwardness at every turn. I like seeing people being really expressive. I like the lifestyle.

I like the Pizza.

Exploring Genova remains work in progress. A lot of chaos has gone down on RoMa since I came back. More about that in a future blog. Enjoy my photos in the mean time.

Famous street.

Famous street with famous man.

We slipstreamed into this alley way with a tour group and saw this probably important thing.

What a heavenly combination these two guys were.

Kick ass fountain.

Stay tuned for my next instalment.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The spirulina incident

On our last day in New Zealand we visited the dentist. Probably not the exciting thing to do but boy did I feel grown up. After the dentist we ate lunch at a fabulous sushi place. It was so good there were Japanese people eating lunch there.

Actual photo of said food.

Now after my suitcase was drenched in a most undignified manner the day before my subconscious had been throwing itself at a revenge scheme worthy of my cunning. A successful marriage for the uniformed is constant war. I bought a bottle of spirulina which I never usually drink, opened it, had a swig and then placed it on Anna's side of the table. In the next precious seconds she bumped it with her elbow and spilled spirulina all over herself. Success.

The moral of this story.

The best hatched plans are never made.

Resdiscovering the joys of traveling

As illuminated previously the mild hurricane intensity of the last few weeks had not left me much time to observe and comment on life's little surprises.

Thankfully a dwindling task list and return to Europe allowed my eyes to focus again on these again.

Shortly after the wedding the Southern hemisphere winter planted itself in New Zealand. We spent a very rainy Tuesday packing bags, laundry and other important household chores. In between showers my wife thought it would be wise to air out our room.

Her intentions were fair enough but she gave scant regard to physics, precipitation and my luggage. I entered our freshly aired room to discover my freshly packed luggage drowning under a torrential shower directly beneath the newly opened window. I was quite animated at this. I shared some of my passion with Anna and she responding in kind with a furious bout of laughter. Silly me for not closing my suitcase after I packed it!

Fast forward to Wednesday and we were once again immersed in the highly charged atmosphere which is Airports , lots of people and Air planes. We flew Emirates to Nice via Dubai and Sydney with Emirates. We got to fly in an Airbus A380 which was incredible.

Photo of our plane. They have cameras in the tails now.

It was splendid to see a really irritated Italian woman in Sydney who was a long way from home and was obviously overwhelmed with how frighteningly English Australia is. Let me replay her conversation with an Emirates person handler

SCUSA! (excuse me)

yes how can i help you?




Storms off and sits down pouting.

Ahh Italy how I missed you and I am not even near you yet.

Tune in tomorrow for more babblings. I have just finished a full days work after a mammoth 30 hour trip and subsequent broken nights sleep and I am starting to lose consciousness.