Oslo and Stavanger

9th August
I woke up this morning purely by my internal body clock, it was around 6am and I was worried because we’d not been called for mooring stations yet. I lay there wondering what to do until about 0620 when S said “Are you awake?”. We debated briefly about the best course of action, my comment being “Well, I’m not going to worry about it” and rolled over to enjoy the last 40 minutes of sleep until we had to get up anyway. Naturally, at that point, the phone rang. Still, mooring stations at 0700 isn’t nearly so bad as last time!
I got to the aft mooring deck to find the deck crew had already been fantastically efficient and flaked out most of the mooring ropes so there wasn’t much to do until we arrived. So I had a few minutes to watch the world go by through the observation ports and ask D, the Safety Officer, random questions about the lights and marks we were seeing.
The cruise terminal quay was a bit short, to say the least and the stern (that’s the blunt end for those of you who aren’t sailors) was several meters clear of it. The rest of the quay was close enough to get ropes to though (seeing as the mooring ropes are about 200 meters long) but we did need the linesmen to pick up the ropes with a boat.
Once mooring was done I went for breakfast, and after that we headed for the Boatswains store to find out what we were doing for the day. Once again it was painting bulkheads, and this time S was coming too. We continued where we’d left off the day before, although by the time all the deck lads had got the gear together and we’d got there and had sanded the bits we needed to pain it was smoko. After that though we cracked on with the painting and got on well. Unfortunately, I managed to get some paint on the bottom of my shoe, and the tarps weren’t so good at protecting the deck either, so before lunch I had to go on a mission with some thinner and a rag to make the deck nice again.
We had the afternoon off but as Norway is incredibly expensive we ate lunch onboard, where we saw the Chief Officer who told us at the end of the meal that we had 33 minutes to get off the ship.. or else!! Oslo is lovely, lots of impressive buildings and after a look at the Place we found a coffee place to sit and watch the world go by in. After days of safety shoes and lots of walking, all we really wanted to do was sit down!
We returned to the ship in plenty of time to go to the crew shop and chill for a bit before mooring stations. I was hoping to get to watch us go out from Oslo, but as soon as we’d unmoored the deck crew started the task of changing some of the old ropes for new. This first entails taking the old rope off the drum and coiling it neatly in a basket. It’s a big rope, and a big basket, the kind that is welded to the floor. It’s hot hard work, and I was glad to see the AB’s and seamen sweating as much as me! Once the rope is detached from the drum and the new one attached, it has to be wound back on again, which involves passing it around a couple of bollards or a set of bits to tension it:- if the rope wasn’t pulled taught as it winds on it won’t all fit on the drum.
I helped with a couple of ropes and then the Boatswain called me over to the control panel, and I got to play with the buttons and levers, which was brilliant!
We were done by about 1800, at which point I had to leg it back to my cabin and get in to mess uniform for cocktails at 1830… it sounds like a real hardship, I know, but when your feet hurt from days of safety shoes and lots of walking, high heels are EVIL!! Ah well, free drinks cushion the pain!!

10th August
Another day, another port, this time Stavanger. Stations was at a very reasonable hour today, after breakfast in fact! I went forward in the morning and aft this afternoon, S and I work it so that we each get to see the port from the forward end once as the view from the officers’ platform is great.
After that we were set to on the port side railings on deck 7 covering the splodges of red primer with white. We had several guests come up and ask us questions, one couple called us “lady painters” saying they’d not seen any other lady painters around and were we the only ones? We explained that we were cadets and that we did get to do more than just paint, well hopefully one day we will! After we were done on that job the boatswain told us to have a rest before stations, and we didn’t need to be told twice!

Life on board in general is starting to feel pretty normal, it certainly feels like we’ve been on here for much longer than 6 days! The food is great, it’s like eating in a restaurant every day, The serving staff are all very friendly and we get a menu of starters, mains and puddings to choose from and a salad buffet too. Thankfully, the starter sizes are minute and the mains come in pretty small portions too so I don’t feel too guilty if I also have a pudding sometimes, most of the time I can resist the pudding, unless it’s chocolate, in which case it’s a lost cause! We also get a steward who comes round and cleans and tidies every other day for us, who we tip on a weekly basis, he’s called Christain and has been really good to us so far. Uniform gets laundered free as well, coming back freshly ironed and all! I tell you, it’s a tough life on the QM2!