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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Hotter than Kim……

Day 66/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. 3/3 sea days.

Today is finally the day! February 27th, 2023; the Viking Neptune Shipbuilding Contest sea trials and judging! There was a palpable ‘buzz’ in the air as everyone talking about coming out to see the judging at the pool deck on 7. Before this afternoon’s competition though, I had a very busy morning!

We are in the Timor Sea today and we are experiencing gale force winds up to 53km/hr. The sea swells are from 12-16 feet so this ship is rocking and rolling again today! What is it with seas that start with the letter “T”. The Tasman Sea was bad, and now the Timor Sea is also bad. The outside decks are all closed because it would be very easy to slip and fall overboard in these winds with sea spray, wet decks and the sea swells ship lurching the Neptune every which way. Richard has again taken to wearing the sea sick patches behind his ears as they seem to work for him. I’m not wearing the sea sick bands or the patches and seem to be fine, as long as I keep some food in my belly!

The Shipbuilding Contest judging was going to take place this afternoon right in the middle of our last calligraphy class, so Lyle, Linda and me all went to the 9:30am calligraphy class so we could write our quote on watercolour paper and decorate the quote. We had in previous classes been drawing lines on our paper at 10mm, but for this final quote in particular our instructor wanted us to work on a slightly smaller scale of lines of 8mm. We were also given margin dimensions that we were to first outline on our watercolour paper, to centre our quote. I did one more rough practise of the quote I had chosen on regular paper, using the scale of 8mm to get the hang of drawing smaller letters and trying to figure out the spacing for the quote. Once I did one rough practise that I was satisfied with, I ruled up my watercolour paper and went for it!

I had our instructor look at my finished, decorated quote and she was very happy with it. She suggested that if I wanted to frame it I could chop some of the bottom off the paper and have it framed. I also stuck with the 8th century zoomorphic creatures to try and be more authentic, as well as using the 4 primary colours that were popular in the 8th century. For only 6 - one hour classes, I am really happy with how I progressed with calligraphy and I am really happy I stuck with it too! The first two classes using bigger calligraphy pens were pretty difficult and our instructor said she has never had to teach calligraphy in only 6 classes and then have the class present a finished piece of work, Some feedback for Viking I think would be to have the instructor stay on a bit longer and let us learn more than just the 8th century calligraphy and zoomorphics, so we had more options for doing calligraphy in the future. I like my finished calligraphic saying and the meaning so much, I may have it framed when I get home!

Team Trivia was…you guessed it…a bust again today. Today we did not know enough about Greek or Roman mythology! We definitely have some gaps in our knowledge but some teams have quite a few more members than we do. Oh well, its all in good fun!

Lunch today was a steak salad station set up at the back of the bar area of the World Cafe. I had the salad without the steak, which I ate quickly with Lyle and Linda on the back pool deck of the World Cafe. We were meeting at Mike and Sharon’s cabin at 1:15pm to bring our ship down to the pool deck for its reveal, so lunch was a bit of a blur today!

Before I show the reveal of our ship though I wanted to show the progress of the ship from inception to the finished product. Our team of Lyle, Linda, Sharon, Mike, Richard and me worked countless hours to put together something we were all very proud of.

The basic structure. Large distilled water bottles cut and put together with duct tape, along with water bottles, and a bamboo stake for a mast. Lyle being the engineer was the brains behind the design! Linda helped with the keel weight and all of the perfect duct taping.

We found an old mop bucket that we cut up for the keel of the ship at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in Devonshire (Auckland) and the rest of the bucket became our workstand for the ship. We did a sea trial once we had this basic structure in place a few weeks ago, with Lyle in the pool, to make sure the boat would float. It did, and so we continued working on embellishing the boat.

Lyle showing us how the wooden knitting needle which we also bought at the Sally Anne thrift shop would form the boom for the sale. The mop bucket with the bottom cut through that became our working boat stand. Sharon overseeing the boat and Linda on the side.

The work in progress boat in Mike and Sharon’s cabin. Everyone was working on something different at this point. There were so many materials that we were able to pick up along the way, with many items picked up in Auckland at either an art supply store, or the Salvation Army Thrift store, a hospital charity shop, a hardware store and a dollar store.

Supplies everywhere with everyone diligently working on something! Thank goodness Mike and Sharon have a proper living room with a full size coffee table that we could use as our place to keep the ship.

I beaded the peacock that we used on our spinnaker in a couple of afternoons when Richard was napping. I had brought the craft with me from Ottawa and had picked it up at a ‘HomeSense’ store with my sister in law Jo. It was meant to be a nice, fancy canvas shopping bag, but I was willing to forgo the shopping bag for the good of the team. We had to determine how to centre balance the spinnaker so the boat would float for 20 seconds. When we did our sea trial two days ago, our boat did not float because the spinnaker weighed the boat down too much to one side. We had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to better centre balance the keel by adding more weight, and centre balance the spinnaker.

Our ship and Mike ( our presenter) are on the move!

Almost at the pool deck. Just making sure the lights were working on the ship!

Our entrant in the 2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise Shipbuilding Competition: “The Gokstad”!

I drafted up the following speech for Mike to present on behalf of our team:


Our Viking Neptune Shipbuilding competition entrant is the most famous Viking ship of all: The GOKSTAD!

Our fast, flexible beautiful ship was built for the calm ocean waters of the Viking Neptune’s pool! The Norse ship GOKSTAD is a successful trading ship, bringing goods from Scandinavia through Europe and into Sri Lanka and India. Through our many adventures, and fruitful trading ventures, we have acquired a peacock from these foreign lands, which we proudly fly high on our sails. The peacock in our Norse mythology is meant to reflect the ultimate wealth, power and influence that our Captain holds amongst his lowly peers and all other sailing ships around the GOKSTAD. The GOKSTAD is the ultimate in modern luxury, detail and design and is equipped to take all on other ships on the high seas.

Our ship is extremely sea worthy having been made from: recycled bottles, cork decking and corks, bamboo garden stake, paper, rope, wood, balsa wood, styrofoam from CANUKUS, metal coat hanger, plastic liner from biscuit bag, sanitary bags, stir sticks, raffia handle, cardboard container top, , menu, mop buckets, paper clips, Viking paper glass topper (crow’s nest and wheel), canvas shopping bag, wooden knitting needle. Repurposed recyclable material, restaurant menus, ……..etc. We also supported local Salvation Army thrift shops and hospital charity shops in scavenging the materials for our ship.

We respectfully submit to you today for its sea trial: The Gokstad!

Chief Design Engineer Lyle

Chief Quality Control Linda

Chief Project Manager Sharon

Chief Jack of all trades Richard

Chief Creative Designer Ruth

Chief Spokesperson Mike

Some of the other ships in the contest today.

Other ships entered in the contest today.

A different perspective of the ships that were in the Shipbuilding competition. There was a very heavy turnout of people who were very interested in seeing the various ships that had been created.

It must have been 100F on the pool deck when the contest was going on. We had to have our ship down for display at 1:30pm and the judging contest did not take place until 2pm. With so many people crowded around the pool to see the competition and the air and sea temperature at 30C, it felt like a very hot sauna just waiting for the competition to begin. The esteemed judging panel were: The Captain of the Neptune Lars, Hotel Manager Ronald, the Chief Engineer and the Chief Safety Officer. Each team had a spokesperson present their ship and then walk the ship over to the hot tub for its sea trial. Because the ship was experiencing heavy swells, the hot tub was going to be used for the sea trial today instead of the pool.

While we were waiting for each boat to do its sea trial Cruise Director Bruce cracked a very funny joke. We were all dying from the heat, with sweat just dripping off us, waiting for boats to be tested and Bruce says “Its hotter in here than Kim Kardashian during a spelling bee!” Anyway, it was soon Mike’s turn to present the ’Gokstad’! We were very nervous with anticipation to see if it would float for 20 seconds, because when we tested it very briefly yesterday, it floated, but we had not tried it for 20 seconds.

Mike presenting on behalf of our team, with Cruise Director Bruce holding the microphone. We even had Norse music playing on Lyle’s Bose Bluetooth speaker!

Lyle in his bathing suit heading for the hot tub. We even had the name of the boat in ‘Rune’ which is the Norse alphabet, running down the flags on the side of the ship. Lots and lots of details we sweated (no pun intended) on this ship!

We held our breaths as Richard and Lyle both got into the hot tub and Assistant Cruise Director Michael timed the 20 seconds float time. We all collectively held our breaths I think for the 20 seconds and………..the Gokstad floated! Absolutely no issues. Our boat was sea worthy!!!

After all of the boats had been presented and then were tested for sea worthiness, we had to wait for the judges to deliberate. By this point our team was very happy that our boat had managed to float, Mike had done a great presentation on the Gokstad, and now it was in the judge’s hands.

After about 10 minutes Cruise Director Bruce announced the 3rd place winners and we were called up to our ship. Not the result we were hoping for and we are all a bit disappointed, but I guess the judges liked some of the other designs better than ours. We gave it our best shot though and we were all very proud of the Gokstad because of the level of detail we had in the ship and the team effort that was displayed by all six of us on the team.

When all of the other ships had been cleared away, we had one last photo taken with our ship.

Richard was missing from the photo as he had gone to change out of his wet bathing suit! Lyle still wanted to try to sail the ship in the pool, but I was a bit nervous about sailing the ship in the pool, because we are still in gale force winds, experiencing huge swells on the Neptune. If there is another contest I’m not sure any of us are up for it. It is a very time consuming endeavour and it would be nice not to be so regimented, to be meeting to work on a project on every sea day in the future. But “never say never”…”We’ll see”, is probably a better answer.

Tomorrow we were supposed to be on the Island of Komodo seeing the Komodo dragons, but Viking has changed us from Komodo to a nearby island called Rinca. We will still be seeing the Komodo dragons, just on a different island. Apparently there were too many people going to Komodo so the local authorities have limited how many people can go to Komodo each day. We were advised in the port talk for Rinca not to shave today or tomorrow (faces and legs). Komodo dragons can use their tongues to smell blood from 6 miles away, so if someone has a cut on them, the Komodo dragons will hunt them down. Its a bit horrifying to hear this, but its true! Apparently there are guides that have sticks to keep the dragons away from us, but we’re not taking any chances and are not shaving for two days! We have both always wanted to see these prehistoric looking creatures, so I’m really looking forward to the Island of Rinca tomorrow. We have to take a tender to the Island and I am certainly hoping for some calm seas for us after our last adventurous tender ride leaving Thursday Island!

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John Fran Razmus
John Fran Razmus
Feb 27, 2023

We thought your ship was great and quite clever using recycled materials. Enjoy Rinca. I'll need to look that one up since we'll be on the Viking Sky WC at the end of the year. Fran

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