Monday, 19 March 2018

My 2017

Yet another year has passed and it is thus time to sum it up, unprecedentedly late into the following year, and following an unprecedented blog silence, due to either being extremely busy, or extremely drained, as you will see. However, that does by no means indicate a lack of blog-worthy events, and I do fully intend to catch up on posting the highlights separately.
2017 has generally been somewhat similar to 2016; very eventful and interesting, but also somewhat difficult, I would even go as far as saying remarkably more so than 2016. So, without further ado-


After one of the loveliest New Year celebrations I've had, I disembarked the ship in Stavanger, and after another day there, took a long and exhausting journey home. Still having many days before the start of school, I spent some time updating this blog (much like I am now), and additionally, having just scored a really good camera, decided to start a public Facebook album of photos that either I have taken, or that I'm in, from various stages of life, events, adventures, and so on. In the very end of the month, Tallink's new and shiny Megastar came into service, and together with other exceptions happening on the Tallinn-Helsinki route, it was appropriate to do a ferry-thon, which included being on board the Megastar for her entire first day in service. In January I also had an article published in Ulkomatala, which felt pretty great.


February was a rather school-heavy month, and thus quite uneventful. Other than school, I spent time preparing for a trip in March, and simultaneously crossing my fingers that school duties wouldn't force me to cut it short. Among other things, I acquired a nice new suitcase and looking at it, felt a strong urge to get creative. The suitcase still serves me well and I'm yet to see worthy competition in terms of looks.


The main event of March was my partner Sverre celebrating a nice round birthday, which meant that I visited him for a while and joined several celebrations. Fortunately, I did manage to arrange school duties so that I could also accompany him on trips on his two favourite cruiseferries, the Color Fantasy from Oslo to Kiel and back and Silja Symphony from Stockholm to Helsinki and back. Afterwards, I had more business at school, learning how to maneuver a ship in the simulator, and also some celestial navigation.


In early April, I voted for the 2nd time in my life, in the 2nd country of my life, as I was eligible to cast my vote in the local elections in Turku, Finland. Neither my candidate nor their party got any seats, as usual. Having spent several weeks in the simulator at school, I took my first attempt at the important simulator exam and did not pass, as I failed to notice a ship without AIS approaching until it was too late to stick to the Closest Point of Approach limits given by the examiners.
In late April, Sverre came to visit which resulted in some adventures, including my ninth visit to Linnanmäki amusement park in Helsinki on the first day of the season.


In early May I successfully retook the simulator exam, thus finishing my 2nd year at school. As the 3rd year is meant entirely for on-board training, I no longer had much real business in Turku; however, as I felt I had not had much of a summer for two years, I delayed that a little. As I no longer needed to use the city buses a lot, I decided to give my father in Estonia a visit so we could have a look at my long-idle and deteriorated city bike. Some days and one dentist's appointment later, I was on my way back, happy to have a viable replacement for a bus card. In the very end of the month, I headed over to Norway to visit Sverre.


I welcomed June in Norway, with a nice roundtrip through Strömstad, Sandefjord, Kristiansand, Hirtshals, Frederikshavn and Gothenburg, which included nice visits to the zoo in Kristiansand and the impressive Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg. From Gothenburg, I headed straight to Tallinn again, requiring just a little more dentistry. During my short stay there, my mother and I stumbled upon a huge sale in a fabric store, and with the help of that and mum's nice sewing machine, I left Tallinn for Turku again with several new and unique clothes.
However, I did not have much time to rest in Turku; as Sverre was returning to work and I had a period of time where I did not originally have much to do, I had decided to kill two birds with one stone and go spend some time and have fun on board a school ship whilst simultaneously gaining on board training days for school. The ship was Helena, a small tall ship, and I joined her for the following three weeks. The part that was in June included a transfer journey from Turku to Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden, with stops in Utö, Visby, Nexø and Helsingør.


By the start of July, our beautiful tall ship had arrived in Halmstad, well in time to join the yearly Tall Ships Races regatta which was starting from there. Firstly, it was a few days of getting ready and celebrating in Halmstad, and then it was time to set sail for the first leg; the destination was Kotka in Finland, but the finish line was actually quite close to Tallinn. The first two days the winds were favourable and we, our ship being specially built to make good speed in good winds, sped past everyone else. Then, however, as we were near Gotland, the winds were turned off and the rest of the race towards Tallinn was spent drifting with close to no speed whatsoever, so it took another 3-4 days to get to the finish line, during which one ship gained up and stole our line of honour award. Additionally, we had issues with our auxiliary engine, which meant limited electrical power. After crossing the finish line, we immediately fired up the engine and headed to Tallinn for one night, and before we had to show up in Kotka, we also squeezed in one night in Helsinki. When we finally got to Kotka, it was some more days of celebration, but hereby my time on board came to an end and it was time to return to Turku. However, that stay was very short as already the following day I headed to Tallinn for more errands, before returning to Finland and meeting up with Sverre for a short trip through Porvoo and Tampere, and then finally properly back to Turku. By now, the Tall Ships Races had caught up with me, as now the entire armada was in Turku, together with the crowds and celebrations, and Sverre and I were there just in time to enjoy it together as spectators.


After the ships sailed and Sverre returned home, it was time for me to pack up my life in Turku into a storage and hand my apartment over to a subtenant; my goal from now on was to spend as much time as possible on ships for on-board training, and live either in Tallinn, Fredrikstad or on someone's couch in Turku inbetween, depending on convenience. Before moving out, I did manage to squeeze in a quick visit from mum, with whom we cruised the wonderful Viking Grace (which was potentially very fortunate, as there was a stabbing attack with several victims in central Turku while we were on board). Initially, I gathered some essentials in a suitcase and went off to Fredrikstad, but mere days later I had to head back to Finland yet again to start my 2nd on-board training on a large cargo ship; this time, Containerships VII; I believe I need not clarify what type of ship she was.


The entire month of September, I was on board Containerships VII, spending daytime watches doing various work around the ship, and night time watches on the bridge. All in all, it was a pleasant time and I got several chances to go ashore in new and exciting destinations, and the weather was very nice throughout.


The first week of October continued on Containerships VII, but I already had a nice vacation with a belated birthday celebration to look forward to. However, during my last days on board we struggled with delays which threatened to throw my nice plans into jeopardy; and even just as we were about to be on time, mere hours before I was due to disembark, our ship experienced a fire in the engine room as we were underway from Kronstadt in Russia to Helsinki, where I planned to catch a ferry to Stockholm. Now having no hope to catch that, I disembarked Containerships late in the evening, stayed in a hotel and caught a plane to Stockholm. There, I met up with Sverre and we could start our trip together, though the stress of the final days on board had shaken me up quite badly.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed my late birthday cruise on Viking Line's Cinderella, which was followed by a quick daytrip to Turku before we returned home to Fredrikstad.
Having barely got home, I was already placed on another cargo ship for on-board training. So, after just some days home, I flew to Tallinn before going onward to Loviisa to board the ship, a small bulker named Prima Lady.
However, my time on the Prima Lady was short-lived; I was still exhausted from Containerships VII, I had close to no vacation inbetween, and the tiny old ship was very slow and rocky, making me seasick. Additionally, my condition was worsened by paint fumes and cargo particles which were hard to avoid on such a tiny ship unless I was to sleep with a mask on, and thus, feeling quite unwell at almost all times, I decided to disembark on the last day of the month.


After disembarking the Prima Lady in Vaasa, I travelled again to Tallinn as it was the closest place I could stay, and spent a week recovering there before flying back to Fredrikstad. Now, I realised I should be taking it easier, relaxing, thinking things through and only go back to sea whenever I felt ready. The only other remarkable event from the month was a nice cruise Sverre and I took, from Oslo to Frederikshavn and back on the Stena Saga, with a day at the destination, during which we also took a short train trip to Skagen.

December continued much on the same note as November; I attended several Christmas celebrations with Sverre earlier on, and celebrated Christmas itself with Sverre's family, although Sverre himself was at work. And as I had masterfully managed to break my computer already in November, I decided to spend New Year in Tallinn and at the same time get it fixed where it was produced. So it was there that I sent away a rather stormy (in every sense other than the weather) and eventful year, with high hopes for 2018 to give me the boost I needed.

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