I often get asked about funny things that have happened while on charter and have been ordered by my wife Claire and many others to embrace technology, come out of my cave, and start writing about some of these incidents, and stop just sharing them with the lucky people who come on charter. I will attempt to do this on a regular basis, but make no promises as to the consistency of these stories, other than to say they will be accurate accounts of the many and varied incidents that have happened whilst at sea over many years.
This particular incident occurred out at Kenn Reef many years ago, when we had a very talented, but slightly manic, chef onboard, who was from New Caledonia. I won’t name names here for the sake of embarrassment, but said Chef’s mechanical and linguistic abilities were well behind his culinary brilliance. The group of Japanese clients onboard were in a substantial hurry to get back to Sydney for a not to be missed appointment at as many establishments of ill repute as they could physically manage in their 18hrs in Sydney. Apparently these places in Sydney were of substantially more interest than those found in Tokyo. They demonstrated the urgency of their plight to myself and the rest of the crew via images of past experiences captured on their phones, they believed this might make us somehow pack up quicker, but it seemed to have the opposite effect on most of the crew, especially with the thought of the 40hr steam back to Hervey Bay lingering in our minds.
With the urgency of the situation now clear to all onboard all hands were on the top deck lifting and securing the dories. Our esteemed chef came up onto the roof to inform us that the blackwater tank was full and needed emptying, and he was keen to help us do this. I explained to him that he should first check the gate valve was open before operating the macerator pump and went through a detailed explanation of “righty tighty, lefty loosey” so that the operation of the gate valve was very clear – or at least i believed so.
Some minutes later all work on the roof ceased as we heard a screaming from the hold, with a distinctive french accent. Dropping tools and making our way to the stairs on the top deck I found the culinary master of Odyssey clad only in small shorts and covered from head to toe in brown particles. It was not hard to join the dots to see what our chef was covered in, but how had this happened? The screaming and frantic panic of waving arms accompanied by flying brown particles all over the top deck led me to conclude that I was to at once to accompany the less than fresh smelling chef at once to the hold as there was clearly some kind of emergency unfolding.
Running past a saloon full of mostly naked Japanese men( i still have no idea what was going on there?) we reached the lower hold to find that we were in no danger of sinking, but our port hold was in serious danger of never recovering from the jet stream blasting of turd and other associated toilet matter that was now caked in a rather even pattern all over the walls, roof and floor. The final remnants of the 1500L poo tank was still dribbling out the hose that had blown off the gate valve connected to the hull. It seems that there had been some kind of mis-communication about the gate valve and it seems that our esteemed Chef had closed the valve prior to turning on the macerator pump. This had in turn caused the pipe between the macerator pump and gate valve to literally explode in a cloud of shit that is still hard for me to imagine to this day. The things I clearly remember are the size of our Chef’s eyes when he ran to the top deck to alert me to the disaster below – the shock and horror in those eyes told me all i need to know about the catastrophe that our poor chef had endured. The other vivid memory is the artwork of shit on the walls, floor and roof that the pressurized hose had caused in that hold.
Being again reminded of the urgency of our departure by a semi naked Japanese gentleman walking above the hatch to the hold, I informed our chef that he should at once fetch the bleach and start cleaning up, and i returned to the top deck to help secure the boats. Shit in the hold would not stop us leaving, but loosely fixed vessels on the roof were a more imminent danger.
Cheffie managed to use a lot of bleach and water and get the hold smelling somewhat clean, but i swear i can still smell the poo in that hold to this day!
Unfortunately for the chef he was the butt of many jokes for the several weeks following this incident, mainly due to the fact that his favorite expletive when frustrated prior to this incident had always been “Putan” – which i believe translates to shit in english! As you can imagine that catchphrase recieved quite a lot of airtime over the coming weeks.
Adventures on the high seas are always full of chaos, mayhem, adversity and always plenty of stories.