To see the sea

You have to get used to the ocean. I spend the first day lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. But the water’s churn and sway induces not just nausea, but sleep. So we sleep soundly at night, and nap after breakfast, and sometimes we nap again after dinner. By the second day my stomach allows me free reign of my senses. And for all our time onboard sleep will follow us as an ever-ready friend.

The Cabin

They warned us. They warned us about the food. The freighter agency literature mentions several times that the food may not be what Americans are accustomed to – “for example,” it says, “there may not be dessert.” The first morning’s breakfast is called “Hunter’s Toast,” which turns out to be toast smothered in something like liverwurst and topped by a fried egg. Breakfast is usually one part egg, one part meat, and one part toast except when it is sausage and a puddle of tomato sauce. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8:00am, which means arrive at 7:30 and leave at eight. One pot of coffee and one pot of hot water sit on the table next to the basket of tea bags and peanut gallery of condiments.


Meals are our only scheduled events and they form the backbone of our days. There are four meals, the three you would expect and coffee, which is served at 4pm for the officers and at 10am for passengers. And when I say passengers I mean us, because we are the only two passengers on the ship. We are also the only two people on the ship who speak English. There are four tables in the Officer’s Mess Hall and we sit alone at the four person table against the back left wall. It feels like attending summer camp entirely by yourself.


Dinner is at 11:30am, a bowl of soup followed by a hunk of meat covered in white sauce and served with potato or rice. Like most institutional menus the ship’s menu has a clear pattern, and three times a week this includes dessert. Twice a week, when ice cream is served after lunch, supper will be “cold buffet.” If there is pudding, supper is anyone’s guess. Food on the ship, of course, can be supplemented by purchases at the Ship’s store.


  1. I ate aboard a container ship once (I am a longshoreman) and I found it to be pretty good. That being said, I believe it was some type of special menu for a conference or something. (IIRC, it was rice and meat (beef?) with brown gravy.)

  2. All hail Dorothy (and boyfriend) for doing with your feet, eyes and hands the adventures that the rest of us only do with our hearts and minds.

  3. Whoa! It’s the guy from the T-shirt ads!

    I always wondered who he was. Apparently it’s a boyfriend of some sort.

    Right on!

  4. Hey I was just rereading this and… DINNER is at 11:30 am? Don’t you mean lunch? And if dinner is mid-day, what do they call the evening meal?

  5. Dinner is basically just the main meal of the day, as such largest and most extensively prepared. Depending on custom this can fall at anytime between late morning and late evening. If dinner is taken around noon (say 11:30 am), the evening meal would be supper, or maybe “tea,” if you roll that way. Dinner used to be a strictly noontime affair, but with artificial light, late dinners could be more elaborate than the “rush-and-eat-before-dark” mess they used to be and as a result evening became more of a go-to time for dinner. An especially large noontime or early afternoon meal might still be called dinner, say at Thanksgiving, but this seems to be more of an exception than the rule.

  6. Thanks Daniel, but I’m still confused. She uses the word “lunch” two sentences late, and while I guess it would make sense if “lunch” and “dinner” referred to the same meal, in the previous paragraph she said the meals were “the three you would expect.” No contemporary US or UK speaker of English would expect the word dinner to be used in this way. Right?

  7. I think she used “lunch” in such a way that it actually refers to the same meal as “dinner” (at 11:30). If you read carefully.

  8. Using “dinner” to mean a large meal in the middle of the day is quite common, as in having someone over for “Sunday Dinner” after church. Or in the song “Old Dan Tucker” — “Dinner’s over and supper’s cookin’, old Dan Tucker just stands there lookin'”

    Another trend is to use “Dinner” to mean a sit-down meal with courses and “Supper” as a casual evening-time meal.

  9. Breakfast, Dinner, Supper. Is that so odd? The civilized world can still sit down to a decent dinner, rather than choke down a hastily-prepared lunch at its crummy desk, no?

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