Any typical day on The Otto I The Great, started at five a.m., breakfast was served hot, by an urgent Tom, demanding no complaints from his gruel, including bacon and eggs. After anchoring for the night, everybody took their place on deck, quickly setting sail, Mr. Otto at the helm while navigating them to calmer seas. Once he reached a point he was pleased he would anchor and life resumed on board. Frida would clean the windows while her brothers attended to their duties below. Then lunch was served around noon, made of simple cold cuts cushioned between two thick breads, washed down with milk or water. Afterwards, while Mathew cleaned the kitchen and made a count of the food, everybody else finished their other own chores.
Frida, found discipline easy, with her bathroom cleaned everyday, her bed made and tucked the way Mr. McNamara taught her in his military style way and her room neat and orderly. Her brothers were not as tidy and normally there was an argument between Dale and Frank about who cleaned the bathroom last. She was aware her brothers were a bit serious and forceful then their normal relaxed state. They pushed each other’s button and had a no-nonsense personality. They took sailing serious and expected Frida to do the same.
Sometimes, after she had finished her chores she would help her brothers. They cheerlessly accepted her help, though they were hard to please as they told her to do this, do that, do it this way. The most eye contact she got from them was when they occasionally glanced down to make sure she was not standing in their way. She was only determined to gain their love.
Mr. Otto was no different than his sons, he also took a different persona on board, he was stricter, more demanding, more serious and stern. His soft affable side was harden and instead of calling her by his pet name she was just plain Frida. Frida, come here. Frida, help your brother. Frida, be attentive on deck at all times. Frida, watch your brothers how they do it. She wasn’t use to this father, but she recalled what Mona would say to her, “Smile and nod, it’s better to placate them, better to get along with everybody. It makes life easier. Your happiness will be you comfort, your protection, your friend when nothing else feels right. Guard it.”
There was always something to do on The Otto I, work never took a break, the only rest came when Lunch and dinner were served. And even then, the sails had to be set and the boat anchored for the night, before dinner. Everybody was kept busy, the most conversation was done was when everybody was yelling orders for someone else to follow. First, by Mr. Otto, then proceeded by Mathew and Dale. Frank and Frida were at their mercy.
The days were long, and by the time dinner was finally served around seven, Frida, was exhausted and only wanted to go to bed. Mr. Otto cooked wonderful meals consisting of either fish or meat, accompanied with a salad, boiled potatoes or sauteed vegetables. Dessert was sometimes ice cream, or rice pudding, with raisins and bits of apple. It was all delicious, and everybody cleared their plates. While Mathew and Mr. Otto cleaned the kitchen and washed the dishes, everybody retired to their quarters to read or relax before everybody was required to turn their lights out by ten p.m. Tomorrow would be another hectic day until they ported on one of their many destinations.
Frida, went to her room and sometimes fell asleep before she had time to brush her teeth or change into her pajamas. Mr. Otto would come in and tuck his daughter in bed, and kissed her goodnight.
The next day came too quickly for Frida. Her muscles ached from the previous day, only recalling how she pulled this and hauled that by Dale’s watchful eyes. There was so much to learn and yet she felt she couldn’t get a grasp of anything. She asked her brothers to help her learn one task or another properly as she didn’t want to become a hindrance or cause her father to yell at her as he did with his sons. During the whole time there was little interaction between her brothers and Frida.
The most her brothers spoke to her was to order her about or that she was doing something inadequately. If by the third command she still didn’t do it right, Mr. Otto would yell at them, “for the love of God, if you see she isn’t doing it right by the second time go over there and teach her the proper way. How is she supposed to learn anything? You have only yourself to blame. Be a good leader. Always take responsibility for those under you. I will keep yelling at you until she gets it right.” But, Mr. Otto would never raise his voice at her instead it fell on her brothers shoulders to make sure it was done right. They were, after all, more experienced and older. Frida, still felt responsible when her father would yell at them for her missteps.
One time, Dale was teaching her to anchor the boat, it seemed simple enough, but she must have done it wrong and Mr. Otto lashed out at him. She carefully approached Dale, who hadn’t looked happy since they started sailing, and apologized for her misstep.
“Don’t worry about it,” Dale was stern and cool, never batting an eye, “I was responsible for it, I am third in command, as a leader, your missteps are my missteps, regardless.” Dale walked off without ever glancing at her and didn’t say anything else for the rest of the day for that matter.
Though, Mathew and Dale kept their interactions with Frida to a minimum, Frank on the other hand, was distant, and mumbled a few words here and there. She wasn’t bold enough to ask him to repeat it, and instead went to Mathew or Dale for further information, and though they were rigid, she was more at ease with them.
By the time they ported, everyone was in a better uplifting mood. The boys were relaxed and they returned to their easy going demeanor, even Mr. Otto, was jovial. It seemed everybody went their own way when on land. Frida being an only child and being independent, would have taken her own way. But, Mr. Otto saw it to protect her and kept her in his company the whole time. Even after, Frida explained to him that Mona would let her be on her own. He simply didn’t agree. Frida knew better than to say otherwise and complied. They spent a few days on land and soon after they were back at sea.
By the end of the month, the Otto I The Great sailed back to where it had started his journey at sea. Before anyone was allowed to disembarked, their quarters had to be immaculate, bathrooms sanitized and cleaned. Every part of the cabin had to be spotless, that is how Mr. Otto wanted it. Even the deck had to be washed and sparkling. Frida, did her chores, cleaned the bathroom after her shower and began packing. She neatly did her bed and made sure she didn’t leave anything behind as she tidy up. Mr. Otto even demanded the windows and window sills cleaned, as well as the shades. He would inspect their quarters, and when satisfied let them take their bags on deck, where they awaited for him.
Once everybody was on deck, he said goodbye to his sons as they left one by one. They boarded a taxi, towards the airport, where they flew back to Florida, where the lived with their mother full time. It was Fridas’ turn and ready to say goodbye to her father. She wouldn’t see him again until next summer. Though, he called all the time, she was starting to miss him. Before her father could say goodbye, Mona appeared, greeting them in her jolly nature, dressed elegantly in her handmade dress and matching dress shoes. Mona looked beautiful as she always did with her perfectly coiffed red hair cascading around her shoulders, her make up in place and her well manicured hands waving hello to them.
Frida hugged her father and kissed him goodbye.
“Goodbye, Princess,” Mr. Otto whispered to her.