Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
A week ago, the final instalment of the trainee fee was due for those trainees joining Picton Castle for the full year or Leg 1 of the Voyage of the Atlantic. Making that final payment represents a real commitment, and also a huge leap of faith.
As a former trainee, I remember the combination of excitement and nervousness I felt that grew as the time to join the ship drew closer. Right now, there are a group of trainees with those same emotions. They’re wondering what activities and challenges they will face in a day, what their shipmates will be like, how to fit all their gear in a duffle bag or two and how on earth they will learn and remember all 175 lines of running rigging.
Trainees have a lot of details to take care of in preparing for a voyage. One of the most important things on the list is to make sure that their passports are valid for at least six months beyond the end of the voyage and that they have enough blank pages for all the stamps they are sure to collect. While immunizations are less of a concern on Leg 1, trainees need to see their doctors or travel health clinics to make sure they are vaccinated for the areas the ship plans to visit. Trainees also have to make their own travel arrangements to meet the ship and set up health insurance coverage. All of this is in addition to preparing to leave their jobs, homes and families for an extended period, which is no small task.
As the beginning of May approaches, excitement builds. Trainees have told me about shopping trips for foul weather gear, gym memberships to get in better physical shape and internet research on ports the ship plans to visit. Many report having a hard time concentrating at work as their thoughts turn frequently to the adventure ahead. It’s time to begin the countdown—54 days until our first all hands muster!