Taking up a new hobby – crocheting

Most people think that I may get bored while travelling on a container vessel, without the schedule of every day work, like the others members of the crew. For people trapped in the routine of shore life, with all the attractions and distractions which come every step of the way, life at sea may seem very dull and far from interesting. You can enjoy one or two hours of walking on deck, admiring the nature, but what else can you do with the rest of the day when no internet is available, no TV programs and no shops to explore?

All the passengers who come on the vessel say that a trip like this helps them discover and rediscover the long lost hobbies and allows them enjoy life like they never did before.

As for me, I can assure you that I never have enough time to do all the things I really want and plan, neither time to get bored while on board a vessel. I may not have the time to do everything I want, but a voyage surely offers me the opportunity to choose the way in which I want to spend every hour of every day. I know I am lucky because I can do almost whatever I want, following my own timetable, but days are always too short and time flies during the busy hours of cargo operation and during the sea passages as well.

On the vessel, during a four month voyage, apart from travelling and visiting interesting places, I usually have the time to do the things I like most – reading around 10-12 books, writing a 200 page diary, taking thousands of photos and watching the surrounding nature for at least one hour every day – but I always discover new and new activities which captivate me and are soon turned into hobbies, like practicing foreign languages and learning different skills.

Last year, I added a new hobby to my existing list and I discovered that anything I made with my own hands – using my skills and perseverance – was a lot more valuable and cherished than anything else I might buy. For this reason, I started to learn how to crochet. I have heard about people having different hobbies while on board – like knitting, embroidering, wood carving, painting – and, as  I have always admired gifted person who could transform a ball of yarn into a wonderful display of patterns, I really wanted to learn this technique.  The idea came first into my mind in a huge American supermarket in Charleston when visiting the craft and ‘do-it- yourself’ area. With lots of books to study from and all the necessary tools, I thought that crocheting could be a very interesting leisure activity for me to kill some time while on board. Easier said than done. After struggling with ‘Crocheting for Dummies’ for a while and trying hard to understand which stich is which, I was very disappointed with my progress and almost ready to give it up when something new came along.

It was September 2013 and we were approaching Bremerhaven. The company told us that two German lady passengers were to come on board our vessel in the port of Bremerhaven and, as I found out, one of the two had a respectable age (70+). I was sure that she would know a bit about crocheting and she could teach me the ‘abc’. I was really confident. But, only 2 days before entering the port, we were told that one of the passengers had cancelled her trip – due to some personal reasons – and only one passenger was about to come on board … and she was not the 70 year old lady whom I was waiting for, but a younger one. I was a little disappointed as I thought that I would never be able to get the proper start and learn the basics of this difficult hand craft by myself. I really needed a teacher and luckily I was about to find one.

I liked Elke (read her story about the voyage on HS Back here) the first minute I saw her and I liked her even more when I found out that she was crocheting a bonnet herself. When I asked her help she said that she would be very happy to teach me and, starting from that morning, we began our everyday lesson in her cabin or on the outside wing.

I started with the easiest stitches – sometimes doing them over and over again until I was sure I understood the moves properly – and went on with new ones the next day, until I started to gain confidence and became very pleased with my progress. Elke was always there to support me and I was really eager to start new patterns, even if some proved to be a little too difficult for a beginner like me. The project I started while she was on board came out successfully and my teacher congratulated me and encouraged me to continue.

crocheting a winter cap






As her voyage came to an end, we had to say our good byes and I had to start taking full responsibility for my crocheting. I was determined to keep up with my studies and practice proved to be very important, too.

After Elke left the vessel, I started a new but very simple project, a baby blanket for one of my best friend’s new born baby. The project proved to be very easy indeed,  it was finished in less than one week and made the baby boy really happy …






After that, I felt I was ready to take the crochet to the next level and started doing something very different – Christmas decorations.  I managed to improve my skills – using some more tips and patterns from the internet – and I spent my remaining time on board crocheting decorations for our Christmas tree and for some dear friends from home.






I still enjoy crocheting and I always try to use it in order to ‘kill’ time, but also to make nice and unique gifts for the people around me.



I also made small gifts to some people on board – on different occasions – and I hope to continue doing this in the future.


I am far from mastering the art of crocheting and I haven’t tried anything very difficult yet, but I hope I’ll improve my skills all the time and never stop learning new patterns. I also hope I will be able to wear some crochet made clothes soon and these clothes will be more than just scarves and winter caps.

Travelling on container vessels is offering me all the necessary free time to take up new hobbies and I will never be afraid to learn something new each voyage.


IF– Christmas decoration for the crew of HS Debussy


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