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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

How Manly Are You?

I saw this online and wonder how many people have done all the things this article lists (link below).  It’s a list of ‘Dad’ skills every man should have. 


I felt relieved that I can do them all – thanks especially to Dad who taught me how to hang wall paper and most of the others.  And thanks to the Haynes manual of course.


Click on the link below to be redirected to the article.



Friday, 3 December 2010

Days Gone By

Eighty seven days at sea have been completed and signed off - I arrived home yesterday despite the snowy conditions for England.  Luckily for me Heathrow was still open. 

I left the ship, along with the Chief Officer and Second Engineer, at 4pm on Wednesday 1st December and the taxi took us to the Hotel Ciudad Gijon where we stayed for the night.  We then got up at 0445 and the taxi left for the airport at 0530.  We flew from Oviedo to Madrid, where we parted company.  I then flew back into Heathrow and took the train out to Essex.  It was bit of an effort to drag all my stuff through the snow to get home once I arrived in Colchester, but amazing to be reunited with Emily - who was not expecting me until Sunday!  

I've put some photos of the hotel below - it was a shame we only stayed for a few hours as was a great hotel.

Coffee Bar - Full restaurant further through 

Looking down into the main hall from 4th floor where our rooms were.

Soon, I will post a collection of my favourite photos and/or moments from the tour, but for now I'm going to rest a bit and sort out things in the house that need doing.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Photos From Ride About Town + Recent Assortment

I've got limited time, so this will just be a quick photo reel of Bayonne and recently - need to prepare the main engine in half an hour, as we leave for Carino.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Ride About Town

Yesterday (Sunday), after doing all the engine room morning routines and the ship familiarisation for our new engineer Maksim, I cycled into Bayonne with Rocha.  First though, we had to do a bit of minor maintenance to the ship’s bikes to make them road worthy enough.


The centre of Bayonne was fantastic, and gave me a real feeling of freedom from the ship.  I had run this far before, but at the time there wasn’t time enough to stop and see it all. 


It was Sunday so all the shops were closed, bar a few little convenience stores.  There were a few bars and restaurants open too.  We alternated between wandering and cycling, me taking quite a few photos all the while. 


We passed a beautiful park that looked very autumnal, although with quite a few leaves still on the trees.  At one point we got to the Bayonne stadium – quite a minor stadium, but beautifully kept. We stood watching a women’s rugby team warming up for a game, but it didn’t look like they were starting soon enough to be worth waiting. 


After about an hour or so we were pretty hungry for lunch so cycled back to the ship – probably only 3 or 4 miles, but typically the wind had been behind us on the way, and fairly strong, so cycling back was good exercise. 


It was an amazing change from the normal, and made me feel invigorated and refreshed.  For the remainder of the day I worked on my last report for this sea phase. 


Oh, and one thing I didn’t realise until recently…bikes on the continent have their brakes the opposite way round to the English way.  So, you have to be careful not to flip yourself over the handle bars if you stop quickly – not that the brakes were good enough to muster that in this case!



For today, I did all the normal duties and Monday bits, then began working my way through the minor electrical problems that need fixing on board – slow and methodical was the prescription for this.  Hopefully I’ll get them all sorted, as it will give me a great deal of satisfaction. 


Once I get internet again, I’ll put the photos up from Bayonne.

The Apprentice

Today is Friday (19th November), and I’m enjoying having the afternoon off, due to working from 0800 yesterday until 0100 today. 


Since Tuesday when we arrived in Bayonne, we’ve had a few extra people on board (although they left last night): the technical manager Simon, our superintendent Marius, and Puiu (pronounced Poy-o), who I’m told is our best electro technical officer.  Simon was visiting as Andrea is one of the ships he looks after and he hasn’t been for a couple of years.  Marius was here to assist us changing two of the hydraulic rams for the cargo hatch covers – these are the size of a person and heavy, so quite a big job.  We’d also had a port state inspection (one of the days we had bad weather in Bayonne, when the six lines snapped) that had brought up some things that needed fixing, so they were partly here to assist with that.


With my growing interest in electronics, I was keen to learn as much as possible from Puiu while he was here.  Lucky for me, I was allowed to work with him for the duration of his stay.  For Wednesday and half of Thursday we were at sea heading towards La Coruna, and due to the weather being appalling none of the electrical work on deck we needed to do could be done.  So, I didn’t learn much from him  until yesterday afternoon, when the all the electrical faults had to be fixed at light speed as he was due to leave at 10:30pm.


We manoeuvred into Bayonne and tied up at about 2pm – up until then it had been a pretty normal day.  I had just been working quickly to make sure I’d got everything done so I could work with Puiu without any other jobs outstanding.  Oh, and we were taking bunkers of MGO (diesel) as soon as we arrived so I had to quickly sort out the bunker station too. 


After preparing for bunkering I spent from about 2:30pm up until 9:45 rushing around with Puiu helping him and trying to memorise how to do everything he was doing .  A lot of it wasn’t hugely tricky, but trying to remember it all while we moved from job to job and rushed around was – the man moves very quickly normally, so with him rushing it was a blur. 


We stopped for a fifteen minute dinner at 6pm which helped the brain carry on working.  Then, when we finished at 9:45pm, we had a break for about an hour (while Simon, Marius and Puiu got ready to leave the ship).  They left at around 10:30pm and then Greg and I had to be back in the engine room for manoeuvring out of La Coruna.  For some reason the manoeuvring took ages, meaning we didn’t get out of the engine room until gone 1am.  I was pretty tired, and when I started work at 8am this morning I didn’t really feel like my brain was working at full speed.  Anyway, I got all the tasks done quickly this morning, so once noon came I could eat and then just sort the cabin out and have a shower.  I feel refreshed now, but still tired. 


As a result of the weather we’ve had and Puiu having to leave the ship last night, quite a few problems are still outstanding.  It is now up to the new sparky apprentice, “you’re hired”, a.k.a. moi, to fix them.  Hopefully my one day training course should be sufficient!  It did make me realise that I’m not as bad at electronics as I thought.  However, I’d still like to become a lot more adept.  Once you finish the cadetship I think you can study to get the ETO qualification too, so I’m interested in doing that. 


Tomorrow and Sunday, we should be replacing the jacket cooling water sealing rings on the main engine.  This will be a big job and involves removing the cylinder head and liner, which will be a great thing to be involved in.



Just found out we will not be going ahead with the main engine maintenance, as bad weather is on the way, and the officials in Bayonne don’t want us to be immobilised when we might need to move.  We’ll arrive in Bayonne tomorrow at about 2pm, providing the weather is good enough for the pilot to come out to our ship.  If not, who knows what we’ll do. 

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Video Uploaded

I've uploaded one short video of us riding the waves.  If you look on the right hand side there is a part that says "Latest Andrea Video".  Click to be redirected to it. 

Breaking Lines

We arrived in Bayonne Sunday and the port soon closed due to bad weather, so we ended up staying until Thursday morning.

On Tuesday morning at 7:30am, the chief and I saw a ship one down from us being moved to a safer position and joked at how annoyed the engineers must be to manoeuvre for such a short distance.  Only an hour later, we were in the same situation. We were only supposed to move once, but after mooring we were being moved around lots by the wind and current.  After 6 of our mooring lines snapped at lunch (leaving us with barely any left) we had to start the main engine and move away quickly. So, we went further up river towards Bayonne and moored again.  The drama was then over.  The sound of them snapping was pretty loud.

On Wednesday the weather had calmed down a bit and the port reopened later in the day so we could leave.  Thursday came and we slipped the lines at about 7:30am.  

For the rest of the week we had big swells, the first day of which was just left over from the bad weather.  The waves were long and very big, although it was sunny outside some of the time, so it was pretty enjoyable spending breaks watching the ship crash into the troughs, then climb out again.  I'll try and put one or two of the videos on the side bar you can see on the right hand side of the screen.  The wind was constant and strong between thirty and forty five knots.

Yesterday (Saturday) we were in La Coruna discharging the steel we had loaded in Bayonne, and then we left at 5pm heading for Carino.  We went down for manoeuvring at 10pm and after a while we found out the the lights at Carino weren't working at all.  At first it was decided that we anchor overnight until first light when we'd manoeuvre in - we weren't happy at this prospect as it meant an extra set of manoeuvring for me and the chief.  However, the decision was changed for some reason, and we slowly made our way into Carino.  By the time we had finished it was about 1:15am, and we were pretty tired - it was fairly boring manning the engine room for over three hours of manoeuvring!

Today we are being loaded with some kind of gravel/rock and at 9am the sun was shining and everything looked blissful. By about 11am it was pissing down with rain and miserable.  It's been constantly changing since.  

I've included one photo below which shows the top layer of the Carino breakwater missing due to the huge waves pounding it earlier in the week.  Apparently they got hit quite hard here and had 18m swell, so even the massive wall wasn't a match for the waves.  Glad we weren't nearby!  

Photos below from the past week or so.

Tug waiting to guide us to new berth in Bayonne (first day of stranding)

Broken Mooring Lines

Spliced together

A warm beginning of the day - sea looks calm here

You can see the height of the wave we're riding down here is reasonably large

Nice skies for one sunset, but a pity there was no great way to catch it on camera.

Full steam ahead through the waves

Changing room window - waves were coming up close, but in worse weather they are awash

Carino photos from today

Breakwater wall missing a part at the top

We're in the alcove at the top  

Tonka Toys

Looking North

Looking South

South again