Admiral “sets sail”
Report by Spectator
Photos by L. Gellert and Klaus Lobemeyer
From 9 to 11.7. our General Plenipotentiary and Admiral of the Navy Corps Lothar Gellert was on the high seas.
As part of the regular crew of the tall ship “Grand Duchess Elisabeth”, the journey went from Elsfleth on the Weser to Helgoland and back. The “Grand Duchess Elisabeth” or affectionately called “Lissi” is a three-masted gaff schooner of Dutch design. It is a total of 65 meters long and belongs to the “Schulschiffverein Großherzogin Elisabeth”, which is based in Elsfleth.
But let’s let our admiral tell you about this trip:
|Friday, 9.7.2021||Around noon, the adventure “Tall Ship” begins with the leisurely ride by car to Elsfleth on the Weser|
|Friday, 9.7.2021, 3.30 pm||Arrival in the port of Elsfleth at “my” training ship “Grand Duchess Elisabeth”, which was launched as “San Antonio” at the time.|
|Friday, 9.7.2021, 4.00 pm||The ship’s bell is suddenly struck with 4 double strokes. This is called “glasses”.
Why 4 double strokes?
On the Lissi, 4-hour guards are always walked, starting from midnight.
For every half hour of the guard, the bell is struck once, at the end of the first hour twice, after 1.5 hours there is a double stroke plus a single stroke, after 2 hours follow 2 double strokes, after 2.5 hours 2 double strokes plus a single stroke, after 3 hours 3 double strokes, after 3.5 hours 3 double strokes plus a single stroke and after 4 hours (guard) 4 double strokes.
Normally, a guard would have started at 12.00. By 4:00 p.m., 4 hours of guard would have been over. Hence the 4 double strikes at 16.00 o’clock.
We gather on the bridge deck and there is a short briefing of the crew and the indivision of the guards. At the same time, about 30 paying guests are welcomed, who are integrated into the guards as “trainees”.
As I said, the service is divided into 4 hours of guard, 4 hours of free guard, 4 hours of free time and again 4 hours of guard, 4 hours of free guard, 4 hours of free time.
In the free guard, the crew members are released from tasks on the ship for a certain period of time and can pursue their own interests (sleeping, making music, writing travel reports). However, the free guards can be called in for sudden tasks that cannot be done by the normal guard alone. There you hear the command “All hands on deck” or “All men on deck”.
I am lucky and am assigned to the so-called 8-12 guard. So my service starts in the morning and evening at 8.00 a.m. and ends at noon and midnight respectively.
|Friday, 9.7.2021, 5.30 pm||Finally, the command “Bow and stern lines as well as front and back ropes come off” and the ropes and lines holding the ship on the quay are unleashed and caught up by the bollards on land. The journey can begin.
Although my guard has not yet begun, all hands are needed in this maneuver to retrieve the ropes properly and to lay them properly.
The journey begins with a slow ride up the river Hunte towards Bremerhaven and through the Hunte barrage. The passage here is very narrow, so that the nautical officer and the guy at the steering wheel, who has to implement the commands of the nautical officer by turning the steering wheel, must be hellishly careful that the flow of the river does not push the ship against the walls of the Barrage.
|Friday, 9.7.2021, 8.00 pm||My first guard begins. First of all, I get an idea of the bridge and am amazed at how much technology is available here that has to be monitored at the same time. This also explains the number of people as a bridge guard.
The first bridge guard as a lookout on the bridge nock I go with an experienced sailor, who explains to me what I have to pay attention to when looking out and how I have to report what to the nautical officer.
Since we have run out with running water and are making a slow journey, we cannot go into the open sea without break, because then at some point we would lack the necessary water depth under the ship.
So the captain gives the order “Moor at the seaside resort pontoon in Bremerhaven” to sit out the change of Tide.
Of course, not everyone can put on and take off there at will. So the coastal radio station Bremerhaven must be informed about our plan and the permit must be obtained, whereby this permission only applies to mooring without going ashore.
New onward journey is planned for 02.30 a.m.
As a result, my guard quickly becomes a so-called “anchor guard”. This means that the lookout is no longer required.
Instead, I am told that I now have to go on the so-called “fire control walk”. With another crew member, we go through the ship and look at very specific predetermined places to see if no fire has broken out. This control takes place in every guard.
|Friday, 9.7.2021, 11.30 pm||The first preparations for the changing of the guard are made: for the incoming guard, who is on duty from midnight, coffee must be made, and the table in the mass where the meals are taken must be set for the emerging guard.
Then the comrades of the incoming guard must be awakened. So we go from chamber (here it is actually not called cabin, but chamber) to chamber and wake up the comrades, who have to start their service immediately.
Punctual at midnight it is glazed with 4 double strokes. The outgoing and the incoming guard stand opposite each other in front of the bridge, with the respective guard leaders facing each other.
The head of the outgoing guard informs the head of the incoming guard about course and speed and any special circumstances.
Then the outgoing guard wishes the incoming guard a “Good Guard” and the incoming guard wishes the outgoing guard a “Good Rest”.
That concludes my first guard.
It is a good custom that after the end of the guard the guard leader invites to a so-called “Besanschot An”, i.e. the guard team still sits down for a nightcap in the mass and Chats.
|Saturday, 10.7.2021, 02.30 a.m.||I am awakened from sleep by gently shaking of the ship. Oh yes, there was something else: Leaving the seaside resort pontoon. This is done by the guard now on duty.|
|Saturday, 10.7.2021, 7.00 a.m.||Now it’s time to “get out of the feathers”.
After washing and dressing, I take a look through the porthole: It is still a bit hazy, so I better put on warmer things and take the thick rain jacket with me.
Then it’s off to breakfast, which is excellent every day.
|Saturday, 10.7.2021, 8.00 a.m.||Arrival of the guard in front of the bridge for the changing of the guard.
At first I am still standing on the bridge and waiting for my order when the comrade at the steering wheel asks me if I don’t even want to take over the steering wheel, of course under supervision, because I’m doing this for the first time.
Of course, this is something that every “fur seal” dreams of, steering a large sailing ship.
Now the rower reports to the nautical officer “I hand over the steering wheel with course 2-1-0” (not 210, but the numbers are spoken individually) and I report to the nautical officer “I take over the steering wheel at 2-1-0”
The nautical officer, on the Lissi they are graduates of the nautical studies at the Jade University, constantly keeps an eye on the screen on which the current course of the Lissi can be seen. As a result, he can even observe fairway barrels, obstacles or other ship traffic and change course accordingly.
This is done e.g. by the command “New course 2-2-5” and the man at the steering wheel repeats “New course 2-2-5”. Now the steering wheel must be rotated from 2-1-0 degrees to 2-2.5 degrees. It is amazing how slowly the ship reacts.
When the compass indicates the new course, the guy at the steering wheel reports “Course 2-2-5 is on”. Even beforehand, it must be ensured that the rudder blade points in the direction of travel again. With the change of course, the position of the rudder blade has also changed. So the command “Rudder admidships” follows and the steering wheel must be turned again so that on the so-called rudder position indicator the pointer is exactly between starboard (right side of the ship) and port (left side of the ship).
So the hours fly by until noon.
|Saturday, 10.7.2021, 12.30 pm||Arrival Helgoland.
Since I am not on duty anyway and do not have to do any special task, I help with the mooring by hanging the so-called “Fender” overboard shortly before the ship touches the quay wall. This looks like a giant balloon and has the task of intercepting the ship’s impact against the quay wall. The fender line is then attached to the railing with a special sailor’s knot.
Then the gangway is extended and everyone can go ashore except for the so-called anchor guard.
Time to explore the island a bit.
|Samstag, 10.7.2021, 18.00 Uhr||Dropping from Helgoland. The rumor makes the rounds “The Captain wants to go swimming”. And indeed, a course is given that takes us halfway around the island. Then the ship is stopped and it is said, everybody who wants to swim, put on bathing suits and either jump off board or climb over the ladder into the water.
Some brave people take advantage of this opportunity of refreshment.
|Saturday, 10.7.2021, 8.00 pm||Start of the guard. It’s totally warm weather. I am on duty on the bridge nock port with a view of the “Lange Anna” of Helgoland, a rock Formation
We are slowly picking up speed again. I stand in the warm wind on the bridge nock and can watch a wonderful sunset in the sea.
In this beautiful weather you don’t want to leave the bridge nock anymore. But there are other tasks to be fulfilled.
So a crew member at this guard shows me how to “make weather”. This means that the weather data required for the logbook is recorded. These are air pressure, air temperature, water temperature, humidity, wind strength and wind direction and wave swell. To record the water temperature, an outboard thermometer is turned into the sea on a long line. This device is hollow inside, so that seawater can collect in it, so that the water temperature can be read from the attached thermometer.
The entries in the logbook are then made by the nautical officer.
|Sunday, 11.7.2021, 08.00 a.m.||My last guard begins.
Again the sun is shining and I enjoy the warmth on the port dock.
Then the nautical officer asks me to “make weather” myself and make the entry in the logbook.
So I apply what I learned yesterday and in fact I manage to determine the required data and enter it correctly in the logbook.
At 11.15 a.m. the on-board-mass takes place by our captain. All those present gather on the bridge deck and a small service takes place. As a special task, the captain had instructed all passengers on Friday to look on the Internet for the song “The Wellerman”, an English-language sailor’s song. Since he knew that I would play the accordion, among other things, I had been given the special assignment to accompany this song on the accordion.
So now the premiere takes place at the mass on the bridge deck and everyone sing along vigorously, more or less wrong.
So the time passes until the end of the guard.
|Sunday, 11.7.2021, 3.00 pm||Arrival in Elsfleth with rain
Again, “All Hands” have to help with the mooring maneuver. After the paying guests have disembarked, the clean-up work begin, in which the entire crew has to participate: for example, the chambers of the paying guests have to be cleaned, all hatches closed, the rescue dinghy covered, certain flags have to be collected and stowed on the bridge, etc.
By 5:00 p.m., this part of the work is done and I am able to disembark.
It was an incomparably beautiful experience to be part of this crew and I am already looking forward to my next trip. By the way, these trips are part of the sailor training program, so that after passing the exam you could (at some point) hire as a sailor somewhere.
Report: Lothar Gellert
Pictures: Lothar Gellert, Klaus Lobemeyer