Michael enjoying the view from the mid ship toilet
Markus filling a bucket with water to wash his hands
Michael on toilet cleaning duty at the harbour in Nyborg on Fyn. Cleverly he has turned his Icelandic woolen sweater inside out to avoid any nasty stains!
Now it’s time to talk about life on board the Sea Stallion. The most common questions we are asked are, “Where do you sleep and where do you shit?”. There are actually two toilets on the boat. One at the front, under the deck in the fore ship. There is a trap door, when you open it you lower yourself down into it, there is a bucket with a toilet seat on it. When you sit your head is peeping above deck, however the open trap door provides some privacy so people can’t see you, this toilet isn’t designed for long legged Vikings as there is even less leg room than you get on a Ryanair flight. The toilet we use most is located further down the ship between the aft and mid ship. This toilet is only erected when we have set sail or when the boat is anchored out at sea. We simply place a toilet seat on a bucket and then erect a tent around it. The opening looks out to sea and often has the best views! After you’re done you empty the bucket into the sea and you use a smaller bucket with a rope to fill with sea water, rinse the toilet bucket and also wash your hands with soap and anti-bacterial gel. Hygiene has been an issue before as it only takes one person with dirty hands to infect the whole crew, especially if they’re preparing the vegetables for dinner or making the sandwiches for lunch.
Andreas and Frederikke prepare smørrebrød or ‘open sandwiches’ for lunch
Odd chopping salami or ‘pulse’ for rye bread open sandwiches
It’s surprising how comfortable a bunch of hard pine wood oars can be when you are completely exhausted
Jophiel grabbing forty winks under the oars
One of our tepees at Rønæs
Most evenings we are moored in a harbour, there we find a green flat area close to the harbour and erect 4 tepees. A designated group are put on anchor watch they sleep on the boat, they set up a sleeping area in the midship. We roll out the oars and flatten them on the benches. Then we cover them with canvas and sleeping mats, we stretch some a large piece of awning across the yard which is lowered and runs along the centre of the ship when the sail is down and make a cosy tent. I love sleeping on the ship, we all huddle together in our sleeping bags and are gentle rocked to sleep with the sound of the still harbour waters creeping in the oar holes.
Half of the crew sleeping at sunrise on top of the flattened oars.
When we sail by night, we do the same thing with the oars, roll them out on one side of the boat put sleeping mats down and half of the crew wrap up warm and are tucked into bed with heavy wool blankets, we can’t use our sleeping bags whilst sailing incase the boat is capsized then we will be trapped in them and unable to free ourselves. It can get very cold when sailing at night, so you wear all of your warmest clothes and rain gear. But the thing that will keep you from freezing is a warm body on either side of you. The trick is to make sure you are in a sandwich and not at the end! The compromise for all that coldness and discomfort of sleeping in your life vest, on hard oars is that you get to lie under a blanket of stars.
Sunrise during a night sail in Kattegat
The other night I looked up at the sky and full moon and couldn’t see the horizon, I imagined in my over tired state that we were a magical Viking ship sailing in outer space amongst the constellations. Orion is not visible in the summer skies in Denmark, so to me it looks like a parallel universe. Then you realise that there were once, a long, long time ago, Vikings sailing on this exact time of boat, under the same night sky, listening to the same hypnotic sound of the waves as they rocked you to sleep, the wood and tar smelt the same and even the low chorus of snoring sounded similar. That is when you pinch yourself and feel so far from home, so far from reality and so blessed to be experiencing this moment, these moments on our boat. Night sails are quiet times, with hushed whispering conversations and dark figures wrapped up warm, almost unrecognisable. Nonetheless, they will let you lean on their shoulder and you can join them to be silent and count the stars and share the quiet contemplation of the Viking sky.
Sunrise after a night sail in Kattegat