With our new Russian crew member on board, I have been thinking a lot lately about the cold war. Having been quite young throughout most of the cold war, I didn’t fully grasp the concepts of communism and the effect it had on people. Now, on board Seawanhaka, I am beginning to see why it lasted so long! Our newest crew member Irina has come on board with the personality and enthusiasm of a brick wall. Since arriving on the boat almost three weeks ago, she has spoken all of about seven sentences to both Bill and I. Her first day, she seemed to be excited about being on board, having quit her job in Moscow and traveled all the way to Papua New Guinea to meet us. Since then, it has been all down hill.
At dinner, I have tried starting conversations about topics that she would enjoy, but I can’t seem to get much out of her. I once asked if they had trains or a subway system in Moscow and her response was “OF COURSE WE HAVE TRAINS!” as if how could I be so stupid to think that there were no trains within the city of Moscow. My fault. Now, I know that the realization of there not being any freshwater showers on board came as a real shock to her, but that is no excuse to act that way. After several corrections by the captain about her excessive use of water in the bathroom, she finally succeeded in completely draining one of our tanks dry. In just over a week, we went through half of our water supply. Previously that would have taken us a month to finish having four crew on board instead of three. I think the idea finally set in her head when she realized that we were halfway out of water and there was no sign of any rain clouds coming anytime soon.
The strangeness of Irina really set in the other day when we arrived at a beautiful bay that was surrounded by coral reefs. She asked Bill if it was possible to dive there. He commented that of course, she just needed to figure out where she wanted to do the dive and when. I told her that I didn’t care to dive there and would be glad to go for a snorkel on the reef, but she proceeded to turn her nose up at snorkeling and tell me in her thick Russian accent that she did not like to snorkel, only dive. Well excuse me! I don’t think I have come across anyone who doesn’t like to snorkel. I think now I don’t care to ever dive with anyone that is that big of a “dive snob.”
On top of the lack of speaking to Bill and I, she looks at us both as if we are the meanest humans alive when we are trying to teach her how to sail. With everything that we try to explain to her, she just looks ahead with this shitty little grin on her face that seems to accuse both of us of being the stupidest people alive. I have given up on teaching her anything about sailing as it is quite apparent she has no desire to learn. I still haven’t figured out why the hell she is even here other than to make life on the boat very grim and depressing.
In a further effort to avoid talking to us, Irina keeps her headphones in at all times possible. Bill would not allow her to use the ipod while we sail since we need to be able to communicate on board and when we found out that she was stuffing cotton balls in her ears, the captain quickly ended that to. However, each time we drop anchor, she hurries down below to her cabin and emerges on deck with her headphones on. By this time a few locals have usually paddled out to the boat to say hello and without speaking to them, she is quick to snap a few photos, say nothing and head up to the front of the boat with her ipod. It is terrible to see her attitude towards the people who come out to visit us on the boat. She treats them like animals in a zoo. No attempt to talk to them, just snaps pictures right in their face and goes on about her own business.
Once the ipod is in, the Russian karaoke revolution begins. The bastardized words of American songs fly from her mouth in a crude tone that seems to even scare the locals off. They sit around as long as their ears can take it and watch her sit staring off into nowhere while trying to form a note and sing the correct lyrics to all of the hits of the 80’s. As for me, I have started turning my ipod on just to fall asleep. Since Irina likes to sleep late, she in turn likes to sit up on the deck late. Every night, lying in my cabin, I am forced to listen to the words of George Michael and Duran Duran being spit out of her mouth. It sounds like one of the terrible people who never make the first cut on American Idol!