Ship Happens

A mostly pictorial review of my first sea phase aboard a 29,499 MT Bulk Carrier.

GLORIANA

Dunkirk, France

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From France we headed across the North Sea. Due to bad weather; we were drifting for a few days, which was very frustrating at the time; but it turns out, on a bulk carrier; you can’t count any chickens, and you could be drifting for months…something I learnt.

Off the coast of Hartlepool

Hartlepool, North Sea

From Teesport, we headed to Diliskelesi, in Turkey, to discharge steel slabs. Picture below shows the crossing of Biscay; which wasn’t too bad (force 9 was the worst)

North Sea March 2013

This is an island which has a prison on it; supposedly for just one man.  Imrali was a beautiful looking island, which I was able to glare at for a number of days, whilst we were drifting. . . again.

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Sunset, in the Dardanelles

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..And a contrasting sunset

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Leaving Turkey was a relief. The port of Diliskelesi was ghastly. At one point in an internet cafe, there was a Muslim chap masturbating over porn.

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Greece was a breath of fresh air! We went to Milaki to load cement clinker. I managed to get ashore quite a bit; and on one of the days, I headed to Athens.

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After a week or so in Greece; we headed to Egypt. The shore staff were utterly revolting; along with all the salesmen who were allowed on board. They literally swarmed the ship; setting up make-shift ‘shops’ on stairs, bits, even the Fuel Oil Tank drip tray was used to house an array of slippers. I had a near death experience in the desert. I had an allergic reaction to horse hair; and pretty much nearly died-  severe anaphylaxis; not a very nice situation at all; thankfully, after riding myself through the desert; and getting myself through the compound gates (the police were fighting with the guides) – I managed to get myself to a hospital…although, I blacked out just as we arrived. I’m here telling the tale.  Next time I’m at Giza; I’m going to wear pants; and I’m not going to hire out an Arabian colt; and go off trekking in the desert. I’ll stick to the trusty old camel. Then, when I was heading to the Pharmacy in my ‘taxi’ – an old Russian car; that looked as though it had seen better days when Yeltzin was in power had a near miss with a Truck from the sixties. I’m not entirely sure what the procedure is on Egyptian roads; but I’m guessing it’s just to beep as much as you can, and drive as close as you can to other vehicles, as fast as you can.

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After Egypt; we went back to Turkey to load steel coil. Then we headed back to Egypt; where I was to leave the vessel; due to the fact that armed guards were coming on board for the transit of pirate infested areas. On our way to the airport; a bus driver went crazy further up the road from us; and the police shot up the bus, causing it to explode. It was the day that Mubarak was on trail; and before the incident happened; we were in a road side restaurant; and all the men in there were watching his trial…completely engrossed in what was happening.  Obviously it was in Arabic, but I still couldn’t help watch. The atmosphere reminded me of the day New York was attacked in 2001; in the sense that, everyone was just rendered speechless. due to what was being shown.

Next stop was Thailand

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Then it was a 7 day crossing of the South China sea; to dry dock in Shanghai. China was hard work. I’d pulled my back out replacing the double bottom tank vent heads; and was not getting any sleep at all because of it. It was hot; it was moist; and it was made worse by the fact I was given the shitty job of making sure that no shore staff stole anything from the forecastle from 8 in the morning til 6 in the evening. The temperature in there must have been at least 40 degrees. To throw some more fuel on the fire; I had several allergic reactions to insect bites. I was sent to the hospital, and I was sent home. to say it was a relief would be an understatement.

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So that was that. Two world wonders; a near death experience in the desert; exploding buses, and countless gobshites trying to sell me shit that I don’t need.  I’d sum up my first experience at sea as an eye opener to different cultures and I realise that different nationalities are wired differently. I was totally against borders- religious borders; and physical borders, I believe as human beings we all have a connection, and a common ground, and that we should get on. Sadly, we’re not all the the same.  Perhaps we need these borders? Despite the visits to world wonders; and beautiful scenery, it was a very challenging environment to be in for me….and in the interest of professionalism; I’ll leave it at that. .

I’m now stuck at home, back at my parents, waiting for college to recommence in September. My back, and my insect bites have healed up nicely. Turns out I’d pulled a muscle in my back; and I’ve been referred to an allergy specialist.  So things are back on an even keel in the health department.  Being back has rekindled my love affair with cycling, and daydreaming about living on a yacht one day. It’s managed to refocus me on my training. I will come through this cadetship, come hell or high water!  I’ve also as I said, been getting back into cycling. I started out doing 20 miles a few times per week; and last week, I done 20 miles in 28 minutes odd; and went out with one of my cycling club friends and clocked 83 miles, averaging a respectable 16.5 miles per hour! Not bad for a fatty!

Whilst I was away at sea; I wrote some songs on my Ukulele, and I recorded them. They can be heard here – Feedback on them welcome 🙂

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