1 APRIL 1886 – SIGNING ON
Signing on for the monitor Sölve. I’ve been looking forward to sailing with one of these coastal defence ships for a long time, and now thanks to the inevitable military service I’ve finally got the chance. It was truly a remarkable feeling to climb down into the belly of this armoured beast. I wonder what it will feel like when we set sail?
5 APRIL 1886 – OUR SMALL WORLD
The world really is smaller than you think, and even smaller aboard the Sölve. The chef is from Masthugget and knows my uncle Karl. Judging from my portions he’s either a very close friend or owes him money. At least I won’t starve to death.
10 APRIL 1886 – STEAM AND BRUISES
Manoeuvres at sea. The fires made the sweat stream down their backs. The steam pressure rose and we slowly left the land behind us. I wish I could say it was wonderful to be at sea and breathe fresh air. But aboard the Sölve it was hotter than ever. After two hours at sea I was also covered with bruises. The ship yawed steeply with no warning and it was, to say the least, hard to stay on your feet during a yaw. Clearly the navy wanted us to familiarise ourselves with the Sölve’s erratic movements. And we certainly felt them. The front extra rudder proved far more effective than I could ever imagine.
15 APRIL 1886 – LACK OF SLEEP
I haven’t been able to sleep for three days. Together my 43 room mates compose a night-time symphony of jarring sounds which are amplified by the resonance in the Sölve’s belly.
18 APRIL – ARMOURED LOUSE
I increasingly understand why the monitors have come to be known as armoured lice in popular parlance. At first I thought it was because the boat looked like a louse from above. But now I’m convinced it’s due to the lack of hygiene on board. There are no washing facilities and the crew share one dry toilet. The stench is insufferable.
5 MAY 1886 – COAL
The heat, damp and lack of fresh air make me yearn for Gothenburg and the heavy work of the port. At least there we had unlimited access to oxygen. The only thing here in unlimited supply is coal for the fire.