First Impressions of a Ship’s Engine Room Watch
I was called at 2345 and told to get into a boiler suit and down to the engine room smartish as the third didn’t like latecomers on his watch.
I got into my boiler suit and headed, bouncing against the bulkheads as the ship was rolling about and cork-screwing, in the general direction of the engine room that I had been shown earlier. There was a strong smell of crude that seemed to be everywhere.
I opened the engine room door… what a racket and hot as hell, even though we couldn’t have been at sea for more than a few hours.
I made it down to the control station just on the stroke of midnight and shook hands with my senior, Bob the third engineer.
Well, things went downhill from here. I was sick, hot, had a sore head with the pervading smell of crude and the continuous noise of the main engine, generators, and pumps all clattering away- something I would eventually get used to. Eventually the watch ended and Bob asked me to his cabin for a few beers; boy did these help! I had a good six hours sleep and felt a lot better after a seven bells lunch in the duty mess, ready for another go at watch keeping.
Whoops! Spoke to soon: there goes my lunch into the bilges and back came the clammy feeling and headaches that Bob blamed on the gas-freeing that was going on in the cargo tanks.
Anyway, I made it across the Atlantic and soon the weather became warmer and we changed into “whites" as rig of the day as we approached the Suez Canal.
The sickness and headaches disappeared and I looked forward to the transit of the Suez Canal. I must have enjoyed the experience as I stayed at sea for many years. They were the best years of my life.
The next section examines the different aspects of training, safety first, then practical and theory and spending time off-watch to relax, which is very important to the young engineer.