Day 105: Chivas Regal vs. The Pirates

15.04.09: Had a good chat with Chivas Regal, the cook, today - remarkable chap, last year the boat he was on from Kenya to Romania was captured by Somalian Pirates and held (at gunpoint) for one month. He was forced to cook not only for the terrified crew, but also for the pirates themselves as they sailed from port to port apparently to prevent other rival pirates taking the vessel. I asked him if he would sail that route again; he shrugged and said "yeah - the weather is better than here". What a legend. Almost as soon as we had finished chatting, the Captain popped down and informed us that he had heard on the radio that another three ships have just been captured by Somalian Pirates. The Captain reckons that the shipping companies are just going to have to run convoys like in the…

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Day 104: Sea Sick

14.04.09: This isn't even funny anymore. The sea isn't even that rough - the Gulf Stream in a little yacht was much, much worse. And yet I've been sick three times today, with varying degrees of BLURGH. I've polished off those herbal remedy ginger pill NONSENSE (it's not like I can overdose on the stuff). I would have been better off with a pack of McVities Ginger Nuts. Even before I started reading Dr Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian, I had a sneaking suspicion that ‘herbal remedies' were a bullshit marketing term for ‘non-functioning wannabe medicine for middle aged women with too many cats' and now I have - albeit very subjective and anecdotal - proof. Well that's as much proof as they use to sell this crap, which is ‘hey it worked for me'. ‘Me' obviously was not on a week-long slog…

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Day 103: Another Monday Comes

13.04.09: Oh my word, I feel ROTTEN! Spent a good part of today in bed, did a little editing, but it's hard to concentrate when you feel two seconds away from barfing all the time. This evening I sat with the Icelandics again (Albert's cabin being conveniently situated next to mine) and we chatted about the collapse of Icesave, catching puffins and where best to get a thermal bath. However, I'm more concerned that apart from brief respites in Reykjavik and the Faroe Islands, I'm going to be at sea for another WHOLE WEEK. Hopefully I'll find some kick-ass seasickness pills in Iceland and be able to whether it. A jolly sailor I is not.

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Day 102: Heading East for Easter

12.04.09: The least Easterly Easter of my life - no chocolate eggs, in fact no chocolate at all! To be honest with you, I spent most of the day in my cabin nursing my hangover and wishing that I had seasickness pills that actually WORKED!! That night, I went up on the bridge for a couple of hours and had a good chat with the captain about football (he's a Tottenham fan, believe it or not), the economic collapse and how the USA seems to be conspiring to make the whole world look incredibly dull.

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Day 101: The Shipping Booze

11.04.09: Today was a half day for the Filipino crew - it's a public holiday in the Philippines, so they got to let their hair down and skull a few beers. By the time I joined in, the party was already in full swing with Nickelback (of all people) blearing on the stereo. So I ended up sitting off drink a few beers with Crazy George and Chivas Regal the Cook, while Andrey and Emerson danced like maniacs to some really naff adult-orientated rock. After some rather boisterous shenanigans and tomfoolery, I opted for the quiet life and ended up sitting upstairs with the Icelandics - Albert the Supercargo and Joey the Crane Operator - enjoying a few beers and tales of life on the ocean. All in all, a very enjoyable night, but I wasn't looking forward to the hangover the next day.

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Day 100: Adios Americas

10.04.09: Unbelievable as it may seem, I'm STILL in the Americas!! Loading took a lot longer than expected so we're still on the Canadian island of Newfoundland. Looks like I'm not going to make it to Liverpool for next Monday morning, so we're going to have to do a little re-scheduling. SO PAY ATTENTION!! There's another boat I can get from Iceland that leaves next Thursday. The only thing is that it doesn't stop in the UK, but presses on to Rotterdam and arrives a week on Monday. Depending on the time it gets into Rotterdam and how long it takes me to get from Rotterdam back to Liverpool, our tour of the UK may take place on Tuesday 21st April or Wednesday 22nd. I'll let you know. Christ - I wanted to be out of here before the end of FEBRUARY and here we are…

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Day 99: Lost and Newfoundland

09.04.09: The Reykjafoss cruised into the port of Argentia at about 7pm. I had spent the day getting to know the crew - our Polish Captain, Miroslaw, Chief Engineer Andrey from Russia and the magnificently named Chivas Regal - seriously - our cook from the Philippines. Argentia seems to be a microcosm of twentieth century architecture - it was an important American Naval Base for many years, and was once a sizable town. Then after the Americans left, the Canadian government had the entire settlement torn down - houses, shops, movie theatres, town hall - the lot. Why? Well BECAUSE THE AMERICANS BUILT IT ALL OUT OF POISON. Ah, good old Asbestos - the wonder material of the last century. The only problem with it is that, unlike wood, stone and clay, it kills you. So all the buildings - the entire town of Argentia -…

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Day 98: The Reykjafoss Awaits

08.04.09: Woke up with thunder crashing in my head (as Elvis once sang) with the owner of the backpackers telling me that the representatives from Eimskip where here to get me. Crikey! I hurriedly slung my clothes on, grabbed my bags and ran downstairs to meet the rather wonderful Samme the Shipping Agent and his assistant Liz. Blurry-eyes and croaking like Toad of Toad Hall, I jumped in the back of his car and he gave me a lift to his office to print out my disclaimer and then we headed to the docks and without too much fuss I embarked on the Reykjafoss, my home for the next week and my one-way ticket to Europe. The captain is Polish and the crew is (once again) a mix of Ukraine, Russian and Pilipino. Everyone is really friendly and they all seem to know of The Linge…

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Day 97: The Hustler

07.04.09: After spending the day trying (and failing) to get a video edited before I left Halifax, it was with great relief that I got to speak to Mandy on Skype to wish her Happy Birthday. It's killing me that I won't see her for at least another nine months. But let's not dwell on that subject any longer than necessary. Justin, a guy from Queenstown (Bungeeeeeeee!) New Zealand, has just moved into our dorm, so I took him under my wing (having been here eight days, I'm an old hand at this now) and we headed up the road for a couple of games of pool. Once there, we got talking to pretty much everybody who was there, including some Canadian girls who thought I reminded them of pretty much every celebrity funnyman from the UK who I dislike immensely. Fortunately, they actually liked said…

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Day 96: The Heckler

06.04.09: Today I went for a walk around the city, but it was still a bit rubbish. Although now the snow has all melted, it wasn't even covered in white fluffy stuff to make it at least a little bit more interesting. There are a few noteworthy buildings that look really awesome, but the centre consists of a nasty, nasty concrete stadium thing, and a couple of really nasty concrete shopping malls. I see the 1960s and 70s were as unfriendly to the good town of Halifax as they were to every city in the UK. Quite why anyone still thinks it's a good idea to make buildings out of solidified porridge, asbestos, MRSA and legionnaires disease is beyond me. That night I headed over to the open mic night again and got to listen to some really great music. But then somebody handed me a…

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