February 5 – Drills are a regular part of life aboard ship. Yesterday was the emergency evacuation drill. When the alarm sounded I grabbed the life-preserver stowed in my cabin and went downstairs to the “A” deck evacuation area on the starboard side. The Cook, a young father of 4 sons from Manila, took charge of me. Fire hoses were deployed for the scenario that the Captain, leading the drill by radio from the Bridge, presented as an engine room fire. Under direction of the Second Mate the hoses were trained over the side, the same procedures, the Cook told me, that would be used in case of pirates. My time on the ship is short but I dearly hope to witness a “repel boarders” drill.
We all loaded into the 42-passenger bright orange lifeboat from the A deck and strapped ourselves into the harnesses that ring the inside. One of the crew made convincing sounds of a cat mewing which bounced around in the fiberglass enclosure. Water and food is stored inside and there are flares and rockets for entertainment, or to discourage cannibalism. The Second Mate sat above us in the pilot’s seat and tested the engine to end the drill. The lifeboat can be launched by the pilot from inside the craft but the drill did not include lowering it into the ocean.
At dinner the Captain mentioned that instances of piracy are way up, particularly in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles. This led to an impromptu game of “Make the Movie,” in this case an action thriller on the high seas. We made some progress on the plot (Russian Mafia, third-world buccaneering) disagreed on the director (Clint Eastwood vs. Mel Gibson) and quickly moved to casting. The Chief Engineer wishes to be played by Mickey Rourke. There was a brief discussion whether the actor was still animate whereupon the Captain pointed out the need for a diverse cast. I therefore suggested Ving Rhames for Chief Engineer but nobody else could recall him. The Second Mate who, it was decided should be the hero, was unhappy with our casting suggestions for his role (“A bunch of tired old men” I think he said), and insisted on Shia LeBeouf, which I thought an inspired choice but nobody else knew the actor. We didn’t get to the Captain; maybe stunt casting of Sig Hansen or, better, Stellan Skarsgård, the math professor from “Good Will Hunting”. (The Captain’s training in the ice-cold ship’s pool should be a plot point – maybe it allows him to survive keelhauling by the pirates and to unexpectedly emerge on the other side of the ship firing a machine gun).
It didn’t come up but I expect the Supernumerary to be played by George Clooney.