Slugs & Style
Trip Start Dec 31, 2011
54Trip End Apr 20, 2012
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I have tried numerous times today to do my dhobi but there has been somebody else’s washing in the tub since 08.30 this morning. There are 4 laundry rooms on this ship, three with x2 laundromat size washing machines – one for ordinary clothes and one for work clothes – and a main laundry with x5 machines. Still, I will need some excitement tomorrow too, so a delay can only be seen as a positive!
Sitting having a mug of coffee on the bridge this morning had me studying a plaque on the bulkhead showing all the different spaces and tanks on this ship and some fascinating facts emerged. The volume given to cargo is 278,119.1m³ - a considerable volume I am sure you will agree, but the figure that surprised me was the volume and indeed weight of ballast that the ship could use
Clearly the volume of ballast is not required all the time – the weight of cargo keeps the hull in the water, but you will recall that the ship rose 2m in Khor Fakkan and this ‘lightening of the load’ needs to be compensated at various positions within the ship’s hull to minimise stresses on the hull and keep the centre of gravity as low as possible.
Tuesday 31 January 2012
I have been on board a month today and on reflection the time has gone very quickly with routines developing and relationships building. We left Khor Fakkan last Friday – 5 days ago and are not due to arrive in Yantian till 9th February at 18.00 so 2 weeks at sea. Meal times and watch changes are the markers in a day at sea and it is extremely easy to lose track of not just the date, but the day of the week
The air and sea temperatures were both recorded at 30° today, but the ship’s movement creates a flow of air that makes standing still out on deck feel very pleasant – for a short period of time. It is the sun that must be totally respected, even when it is cloudy. Having experience of the damage the sun’s rays can do to pale skin, I ensure I am not in the sun for more than a few minutes each day. Even so, I have an ‘end of summer’ look to my head, face and neck.
Wednesday 1st February 2012
One of my mobiles chirped into life at 07.00 this morning, welcoming me to Sri Lanka and the text Yvonne sent days ago popped up on my screen. (Where do they go? Where are they held? ‘Tis a mystery to me!) Given that I had a signal, I thought I would fire off a couple of text messages but a quick look at my home clock showed that we are now 6 hours ahead of GMT so I thought better of it. By the time home time was more reasonable (7am) we were round the pointy bit and heading out into the Bay of Bengal towards the Straits of Malacca – 30 miles from land and no longer any signal. I am told we will get a mobile signal for longer when we are near to Singapore
Whilst on a geographical tack, I also found out that when I leave Busan in South Korea on the next ship, we head northwards round the top of Japan on a global route heading towards Panama. It will certainly be very cold up there. If you have access to a globe, do have a look at this route - it is one heck of a distance and a big ocean to cross.
Thursday 2nd February 2012
As soon as I was out of bed this morning I looked out of the window to see what the day was like. I do it every morning. It was cloudy, very grey and with an indistinct horizon. Before going to breakfast I stood out on deck and wasn’t at all surprised to feel the air was hot and humid. The deck was covered in a dusting of moisture beads that allowed my flip flops to leave a trail as I walked to the rail and back.
A couple of miles away to starboard was a sleek tanker that we were slowly passing and in the distance was a familiar slug shape. All-aft tankers have been around for many years but they have always been seen as totally functional in their design. They carry bulk liquids – it is pumped into tanks in their hold, there cannot be any deck cargo and there needs to be an engine and some accommodation – so put those bits at the stern and maximise space. Their design hasn’t changed much – if at all. I think the most glamorous ships were Italian passenger vessels. Their designers could make even an old dated ship look good, but other ships had class and style, none better than the Queens – Elizabeth and Mary. They were built in the 1930’s but the Queen Mary is still a popular tourist attraction in Long Beach, California and continues to exude grace and style.
But the modern container ship, when loaded and seen from a distance – on an indistinct horizon – looks like a huge slug. There is nothing graceful about it, and even as it gets closer, the slug shape just gets bigger – there aren’t any individual features that allow identification from a distance. And I guess this is one reason why a lot of companies have taken to painting their name on the slab sides in huge letters. Not the name of the ship, just the company. MAERSK, MOL, OOCL, MSC – the majority do it. (The ship I saw approaching us was a sister to this one, CMA CGM Pegasus and of course CMA do it too)
Even passenger ships, with their preponderance for individual balconied cabins are now looking more and more featureless.
So, that humble tanker is becoming more graceful when compared to the competition – in my opinion!
Sent by email from the ship and posted by the Old Sea Dog's PA
30° eh? We're much better off with our 2° maximum - we'd only complain if it was that warm!?