Forget Ron Burgundy; Richard is the real Anchorman. When the ship does need to drop anchorwhich thanks to modern technology, their Azipods and the GPS-assisted Dynamic Positioning System, they rarely do anymoreRichard receives the order from the bridge, goes down into the bow and out onto a little flip-down door platform and watches as one of the two 12-ton Admiralty cast Type 14 anchors is slowly lowered, shackle by shackle, until just above the waterline. If all looks good, this is where the fun begins.
"There's an order to drop [the anchor] to so many shackles, since it's the cable on the seabed and not the anchor that really holds the ship," he explains. "When the brake is disengaged, the chain will fly from the locker, with sparks and dust and noise."
Richard's calm explanation belies the thrill of it; to us, an anchor drop seems like one of the ways a massive ship like the Queen Victoria can assert her strength. She may be maneuvered through tight fjords with the slightest touch of a modern joystick, but sometimes, like in the case of dropping anchor, her power and connection to nautical history still shines through.
When he's not counting anchor shackles or being the Junior Watchkeeper on the bridge, you can also find Richard making shipboard navigational announcements. Sometimes his voice wavers with nerves, he confesses, because "we're not trained for public speaking." Luckily he's got the next twenty-plus years to work on it before he's hosting his own Captain's table.
The QV towers above Bergen, Norway, as we tower above it from the top of the city's funicular railway.
What he loves most about the at-sea lifestyle: At the end of the day, Richard thrives on recognition from those higher ranked than he. Heyeveryone likes to be told they're doing a great job, right? He admits he's at his best in areas like the Dover Strait, where navigating other ship traffic is a welcome challenge.
Favorite port: Sydney, Australia. Because it's rare that the ship calls there and "the berth is in the center of the city, between the bridge and the Sydney Opera House."
Favorite on-land activities: You'll find Richard sightseeing in ports new to him, or hanging out at a cafe with internet to keep up with the world. The latter is a common favorite among all crew, since at-sea WiFi is pretty expensive.
Richard poses on the bridge's port side
Up next: on Wednesday we'll bring you a look inside the exclusive world of onboard gentleman dance hosts (OOooOOoooh).
Disclosure: We traveled to Norway onboard the Queen Victoria as a guest of Cunard, but all images and opinions are entirely our own (or those of the interviewees).
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted; anchor diagram: Wortelboer]