Okay, so i have been trying to get my education, which i have ignored for 5 years, up to date. Over here in the wilds of the Mediterranean they don’t consider what we do in Australia good enough for their paperwork and vice versa, so i have had to start at the very beginning with classes and the first one i did was a very exciting course where they let you touch the RED button....
It was a very informative and interesting course where some of the mysteries of the extra capabilities of equipment that we take for granted on the helm are explained and their use becomes a very real reach for help in an emergency at sea.
My class had six students, one teacher, one auditor and one examiner. None of which spoke straight English except for me.
We had two ETO’s which are the Electronic Technical Officers off vessels that stretch more than 100m in length. One came from his vessel which was parked around the country near Marseille in the shipyards of La Ciotat – he was from London and i am not sure i followed any of the sentences he spoke except for the last one in every conversation, it was much easier to have a one word answer conversation with him so that he could only mumble and eat one word at a time instead of consuming the whole sentence at once.
The other fellow was on a good retainer system for his vessel of 124m and in his off time he works in rotation for the Sapeur Pompiers (fire service) in Marseille and he is French. He was a joy to speak with as his flowing franglish was smattered with Australian colloquial due to the fact that he had spent some years in Australia and New Zealand travelling and working and picking up the lingo - i do miss the ‘Gidday Sheila’ in a French accent. The two of us would go off into peals of laughter every morning taking the edge off the serious course we were attending.
The next fellow along the school room desks was a young South African deckhand who is very switched on to his future in this Industry and has his eye on the prize at the top of the ladder. He stands a good 7 foot and has a booming accent and never seemed to be off his iPhone, finding odd and unusual facts about incidents at sea and all the new applications available. His knee was criss-crossed with scars from snapping his knee during a kite boarding accident and told us about his Fathers brush with a hungry shark that nearly severed his arm up in Kenya on holiday once, only to the credit of the witch doctor who stitches up the locals frequently did they manage to save the arm. Rough country down there!!
Next was the German ex engineer who wanted to change direction and come to the more exciting side of the world of yachting up at the driving seat. He had a very strong German accent again difficult to follow at times due to him mumbling and being gracious at all times. The teacher would give him grief at least once a lesson by asking him what he was sinking about. This apparently was due to a sketch done on a tv or radio program where a ship calls up a Mayday and is answered by the German Coast Guard, the crux of it all is that the ship calling the Mayday says ‘Mayday Mayday Mayday ‘ we are sinking and the reply is ‘ja, this is the German Coast Guard, vat are you sinking about??’ well, the teacher would think himself hysterically funny and the German fellow would just laugh and sound exactly like the Coast Guard voice (which we got to hear the sketch on our last day) All of this was funny because the course was a lot of Mayday and Securite calls on the radios.
The last fellow in the class was born along the Coast somewhere in Italy and grew up in Monaco so he has a weird exotic European accent where certain words are pronounced with a heavy Italian accent and then at other times he is very Monaguesque..
Our Teacher was from Yorkshire, very broad and strangled with lots of you right luvs directed at me and royts to the lads...
The Auditor was from Jordy land now and is Welsh so very singy songy voice, a real pleasure to listen to talk about what he was doing here.
The Examiner was a Scott, very softly spoken with a pale visage and piercing blue eyes that crinkled at the corners (I am pretty sure it is a tactic to lull you into feeling safe in his presence for the exam)
I was accused of flirting with the Auditor and Examiner at morning tea after the first of the paper exams by the teacher and i just told them that whatever works – heeheeee
It seemed to work as i managed to pass all three parts of the exam and have the certificate in my hot little hand, noooowwwww...