Sunday, December 31, 2006
On board Götheborg
The sound of the bagpipes caught my attention as I was looking for a spot on the second floot to take photos. It has come to my attention that those were Boys Brigade with Scottish bagpipes. The photo-taking area cordoned off for the press was just a bit too small. During my research into modeling of Götheborg, I came to the conclusion that the ship would be too difficult to shot. I might as well get more people photo. It's always better to be closer to the action and so I headed down.
The little kiddos were busy waving their flags, wondering when the ship was going to show up. Looking at them made me want to get a yellow t-shirt as well. The Swedish embassy has done a great job getting the kids together.
Every one was waiting, including an 18th century couple.
We didn't have to wait long to see Götheborg sailing in. It was probably hiding behind Harbourfront centre all along. The rolled up sails were opposite of what I had in mind. The kids were pretty ecstatic, nevertheless. The sky was overcast with white clouds, but I was grateful it wasn't raining, like the past few weeks.
Götheborg turned and did a cannon salute. Eight shots were heard. No cannon balls were actually shot but it still was pretty loud. It should work pretty well if you have to scare away pirates.
Here we see Götheborg inching her way closer to dock. I was amazed at the intricate system of ropes on the ship. There were 4 Singaporeans on board, two were not wearing the crew's uniform of t-shirt, shorts and sneakers. No prizes for guessing who they are. The Singaporeans will be ending their journey here.
Götheborg has a crew of 80, of which 50 are volunteers. Volunteers meaning they are not paid as I found out during the interview later on. But hey, I would pay to sail with these guys. Also, 3000 applied to be volunteer crew members. Below, we see them working the ropes, trying to secure the ship to the dock. There were a lot of female crew on board, like almost half! I knew there were female crew but I didn't know there were so many!
Next, we saw the sailors climb up the ropes, to the top of the horizontal mast. They were very fast. Spider-man would be proud of them. Before I realised why they are hanging around in the sky, the ribbons were untied and rolled down.
There was a lion looking intently at the bottom. By now, a pretty big crowd of curious shoppers had gathered.
The captain and the super cargo were among the first to get off the ship. The super cargo referred to rich businessmen who sailed with the ship in the 18th century.
At the tent, a Sweden lady performed Singapore's and Sweden's national anthem. Minister for Defence, Teo Chee Hean, was invited as the guest of honour at the welcome ceremony.
After the minister's welcome note, we had the four Singaporeans introduced to the onlookers. Two were from Singapore Navy. The other two were from Singapore Management University and Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. The four had presents from returning home safely.
We were then invited to board the ship. We headed straight down to the gun deck for our press interview. Some of the crew were still tying up the cannons they were using couple of minutes ago.
As I turned around, I saw someone enjoying an apple. If you look closely at her arms, you will notice black marks. Remember the ropes you saw earlier? They had tar applied onto them to prevent water from soaking. Be prepared to get your hands dirty if you want to be a true blue sailor.
Sentosa, as seen through the gun turret door.
From left to right, we have Teo Wei Chuan from SMU, Peter Kaaling the captain with an earring on the left ear (which you can't see in this photo), Stellan Mjardner the president of SOIC and Sivasothi from you already know where.
This is Alexandra, our tour guide. (I hope I spelled her name correctly.) She is positively radiant, like every other crew on board. We all know female Swedish soccer fans are pretty. Now we know female Swedish sailors are pretty too.
The crew seemed pretty much at home even though there were people with huge cameras walking around snapping away. I guess by the eighth stop, Singapore, you would too. It is now that I look the photo below that I realised I had forgotten to take a photo on the air conditioner that was on the ceiling. Yes, the ship was a replica built with modern facilities like washing machines, showers, water purifiers, radar and a small propeller to help steering in ports. Those are definitely electric lamps.
We managed to grab hold of Siva to do a short interview. He gave us a pretty interesting account of life on board the ship. How he was seasick for the first few days and how the crew took care of him. I can't get too much into depth as you can see I wasn't the one taking notes.
We didn't get to visit the lower decks to see what photos he pasted beside his hammock. Time flew by quickly and we were told we had to leave the ship because the captain wanted to address his crew.
It was really cool to be on a sailing ship this exquisite. The woodwork was terrific. You can feel that the crew was one big family. This ship is as authentic as it can get.
Gotheborg will be open to the public until 9 Jan. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Free for toddlers under 3. There will also be an exhibition area in VivoCity about Sweden and the ship.
Wikipedia's link to Götheborg
Minister for Defence, Teo Chee Hean's welcome note