Date Posted: 16th June 2008
Lineal tried to suppress the smile that his uncle's disgusted sound caused. Uncle Barr; old, grumpy, and intolerant. And somebody who had no intention of retiring.
Which was good, the young captain of the riverboat Sungazer thought. He was fairly new to the job and the last thing he needed was the wealth of experience in the older crewmembers disappearing onshore and into retirement. Uncle Barr, Aunt Vaheri. The last ones left from his childhood. It seemed strange that his own generation was now doing much of the running of the riverboat. Tyno, the pilot, was his cousin. Him in the captaincy. Most of the heavy work of loading and unloading was being done by his cousins in whatever degree.
"Harrumph," Barr said again, not pleased that his nephew's attention seemed to have wandered.
"Sorry, Uncle Barr. Was there something you wanted?"
"If there had been I would have said already," the old engineer grumbled. He nodded toward the people milling around on the crew deck balcony. "What do you think of them?"
"I think they seem like very nice people," Lineal said firmly. He and Barr had welcomed all of the temporary crewmembers as they had come aboard and they still stood on the wharf at the foot of the landing stage. He studied the middle deck balcony and watched the Moonflower and the Sungazer crews mingling. They would have four months of living and working together in which to get to know each other but there was too much excitement in having so many new faces aboard for anybody to hold back on meeting them.
New faces that were not those of passengers.
Passengers were well treated on the Sungazer - pampered a little for they represented a part of the cargo the riverboat carried that could and would tell others about the journey. But they were always still passengers. Passers-by who might seem friendly enough at the time but would be gone in less than two sevendays. Riverboats that passed in the rain.
New crew - even temporary crew - were different. They didn't take their meals in the different place. They wouldn't spend their days lounging around on the upper deck. The Moonflower crew would become part of the Sungazer crew for the duration; working alongside, eating in the same common-room, living their lives on the same middle deck that housed the crew.
Lineal found himself smiling again, and this time it had nothing to do with his uncle.
There was another reason having the Moonflower crew onboard was causing a lot of excitement. All the crew aboard any riverboat were related to one another by blood or marriage. The Moonflower crew were related among themselves, but not to any of the Sungazer crew, except perhaps for a couple of distant connections from long ago, or perhaps by marriages. The unmarried men and women of each riverboat crew were being handed the best possible chance to get to know unrelated river folk.
For some among the Moonflower crew that was probably the reason for choosing to come aboard the Sungazer. Certainly most the volunteers had been young. There were some, like the two pilots, who needed to stay in contact with the river for the four months of the Moonflower's overhaul, but for many working about the Sungazer instead of having four months ashore at their waypoint was a social choice.
Whatever the reason they had come aboard they were there now.
For the next four months they were members of the Sungazer's crew.
Last updated on the June 28th 2008