11.50 (GMT +2)
Steaming towards Jidda
Had a couple of very interesting conversations today.
First with Lysandro, the messman/steward whose theory it is that the 9/11 bombings was very bad for Filipino crewmen on cruise-ships. That security went up, salaries went down, and Filipino crewmen were viewed with suspicion. Interestingly, he also attributes the fall in salaries to this increase in security. He apparently trained as a marine engineer, but in order to approach a recruiting agency, he had no contacts. So he worked with his uncle who took him to be a crew/messman on the cruise-ship. He apparently did that until 6 years ago, when he worked for CMA, then left to work for Hapag-Lloyd, and now he is back at CMA. He also mentioned this German couple he had met on the cruise-ship who came to visit his town, went swimming and eating together, and then offered to adopt his youngest daughter, Mutya. Which he refused. He said that he was very poor in Philippines and that his dream was to get a van with which he could make some money at home. He felt that being on the bottom rung of the employment didn’t earn him very much and that he was hoping to become a cook, but felt that at 41, he was too old to do so.
Then I spoke to the Captain up on the Bridge. He was telling me about having had the chief as his cadet in 1991/1992. But then they had not seen each other since then.
He was also telling me about how difficult it was on the east-bound leg of this journey with its short and frequent port visits. He mentioned that Mersin had been added in the last minute, and when usually Turkish cargo was put on a feeder and sent to Beirut, someone at HQ thought it was more profitable for Callisto (owned by Aliza 1994; and operated by CMA Operations) to make a detour this time. We were apparently the biggest and deepest-draught ship in Mersin yet, and the port was not ready for us, with both the breakwater opening being far too narrow and the turning radius too difficult to navigate.
This is particularly hard for the officers, because apparently with these 11,400 TEU ships, there is a design error, where the rudder is 23% shorter than it should be, so if the ship’s speed drops too far, the ship loses steering, which of course makes everything very difficult in coming into port.
18.19 Ship time (GMT +2)
Anticipation of Jeddah is interesting. Preparations that have to be made with all the alcohol and vinegar (!) and pornographic videos and magazines to be hidden somewhere in case inspectors come onboard. And declarations have to be made. And the treacherous reefs that we will have to navigate to come through to the port. The topography of the Red Sea is fascinating. It goes in so deep and it is so covered in reefs and islands. It actually makes me want to read the geological history of the place too. It is like a narrow gash between two continents: the work of a brutal glacier?