LT 784, Arthur Foss, Mark Hannah, Atlantic Ranger, Master Cody, Glenn Pearl Harbor
Previous Vessel Owners:
United States Army, Foss Launch and Tug
Master Cody was built as Arthur Foss back in 1944 so she was old. But don't trust the above information to 100% because she was still named Master Cody when I was there 2001. I signed off M/T Tärnvind in Malmö on the 12th of January 2001.
We passed Kullaberg entering Öresund when the owner of Nordic Shipping in Florida called me. He asked me if I wanted to join his tug boat Master Cody in San Francisco.
- We're taking an old container ship to India for scraping
I did not even ask for the salary. I said yes. I remember that I was so feed up with tankers and I wanted to try something new. And a tug boat from San Francisco to Alang to scrap a container ship sounded very interesting.
I left M/T Tärnvind with my relievers rented car and I drove to Go:teborg where John B was waiting with something I had never seen before. A Semla in the size of a giant cake. Giant or not, John B and I finished the semle cake in a jiff.
I arrived home in the afternoon and I had to get up very early for an early morning flight to Amsterdam where I would change plane to San Francisco. Yeah, that was something I was looking forward to.
Saturday 13th of January 2001 and I was on Landvetter Airport very early. I planned to be a little earlier so I could buy snus on the airport. But I never found the time, I think it was because the TAX FREE shop had not opened when my flight took off.
- DARN! NO SNUS!!
I was not happy as you can understand. I had a few cans of snus and that would last me for only a few days. I bought some CDs on Schiphol while waiting for my flight to San Francisco. I remember that I bought a CD with Big L and that was pretty much the only good CD I managed to get at Schiphol.
We left Amsterdam in the morning and we arrived to San Francisco in the afternoon. Saturday and I was looking forward to a night on town.
The owner asked if I could join his tugboat and I asked when. He told me that I would join the ship on Saturday. I would sign of M/T Tärnvind on Friday.
- I will sign off in Malmö tomorrow morning (Friday)
They would stay for a week or so in San Francisco preparing the bridle on the container ship before we could leave for India. So I told him that I would come to San Francisco on Saturday and I would join the ship on Monday.
- I need a night on town and a day in bed.
- OK, no problem
The owner picked me up at the airport together with an Engineer from Ukraine. He drove us to the ship and I told him that we had an agreement.
- Signing on on Monday
- Yeah, we only take a look at the boat first.
And this small tugboat was not a nice sight. My cabin was so small and dirty, The Russian Chief
is a census town in Bhavnagar district in the Indian state of Gujarat. In the past three decades, its beaches have become a major worldwide centre for ship breaking.
Marine salvage industry
The shipyards at Alang recycle approximately half of all ships salvaged around the world. The yards are located on the Gulf of Khambat, 50 kilometres southeast of Bhavnagar. Environmentalists note that before ship breaking began there in June 1983 the beach at Alang was pristine and unspoiled. However, locals say that the work provides a reasonably paid job by local standards, with a steady income used to support their families.
Large supertankers, car ferries, container ships, and a dwindling number of ocean liners are beached during high tide, and as the tide recedes, hundreds of manual laborers dismantle each ship, salvaging what they can and reducing the rest into scrap. Tens of thousands of jobs are supported by this activity and millions of tons of steel are recovered.
The salvage yards at Alang have generated controversy about working conditions, workers' living conditions, and the impact on the environment. One major problem is that despite many serious work-related injuries, the nearest full service hospital is 50 kilometres away in Bhavnagar. Alang itself is served by a small Red Cross hospital that offers only limited services.
Officer that signed of just left it looking like shit. I was chocked, is this how I will live for the next months. But the Chief Engineer told me later on that he had had a few Chief Officers coming to join the ship but they had just left when they saw the ship. So the owner was nervous and he wanted to show me the boat.
It sounded like he had told the other Chief Officers that the tugboat was like a cruise ship. So they had been chocked when they saw the ship and they had left.
I didn't cared about the tug boat. I just wanted to get drunk and have a good time before leaving for India. And I really didn't care how the tug boat was, I was just looking forward to the adventure. Something new and when I'm signing off I have been taken a ship for scrapping in Alang, India.
Welcome to Alang! SAFETY IS OUR MOTTO
Picture from Alang that I found on the internet
Picture from Alang that I found on the internet
Picture from Alang that I found on the internet
Picture from Alang that I found on the internet
Picture from Alang that I found on the internet
Alang and what's the black shit coming out from the ships?
Alang and what's the black shit coming out from the ships?
So I was looking forward to see Alang, I had heard a lot about it. And now I had the opportunity to see it with Master Cody. We we're going to take President Jefferson to Alang and she was just behind us on the jetty. They were working to prepare the bridle. The crew did the work and they had help from one crane on the ship yard.
President Jefferson was almost 30 years old, but APL had had her moored at the jetty for several years. I don't know why they didn't scrap her before, but now she was sold to an Indian buyer that would scrap her on the beach of Alang. Who knows, maybe you got shaved this morning with a razor made from her. President Jefferson looked huge behind Master Cody. Of course, Master Cody was very small and we were 10 people onboard.
The owner showed me around and I reminded him several times about me going to a hotel and it was already late when we left the tug boat behind. F@ck! The whole day was destroyed and my good mood was gone. I found a place for a few beers and San Francisco sucks big time, everything was closed at 1 o'clock in the morning and I had to go back to my hotel.
Sunday 14th of January 2001 and the owner of the tug boat came to pick me up at my hotel.
- What the is wrong?
I told him that I wanted a day or two before joining the ship and I have had maybe 8 hours of alone time since I arrived to San Francisco. Now he was in my door way before sun rise and we were soon back onboard Master Cody.
We had to prepare Jefferson for the tow and it was a hard work. We had to make the bridle of her anchor chain. The crane on the shipyard just pulled up the chain and put it in a big pile on the fo'c's'le. And everyone being on a big ship knows the size of an anchor chain. Believe me, it's no joke pulling this one out in 3 lengths of about 1,5 shackles. There should be an eye at the end on 2 of them to put around the anchor capstan then 1 turn around the bollard. 1 on starboard side and 1 on port side. Then out from the fairlead and connected together with the 3rd length of chain.
We connected our tow wire to this chain. We used about 900 meters of wire when we towed Jefferson making our deepest draft about 150 meters.
On deck we had 3 Officers and 1 Captain. We had 4 engineers and 1 fitter in the engine department. 3rd and 2nd Officer came from Panama and the Captain was from Albania or something. Captain told me that it was a very bad Captain already when he picked me up on the airport.
- Why did you hire him?
- The only one I could find. He had been living outside my house in his camping car and he refused to leave until he got the job.
He told me that he wanted me as Captain, but the insurance company had refused. They demanded a Captain with previous tug boat experience.
Well, anyway, we sent home the Captain and the Panamanian 2nd Officer from Honolulu when we stopped for bunker.
We prepared the bridle during the days, I spent most of the time onboard Master Cody. I checked the safety equipment and many of our fire hoses was leaking when I pressure tested them.
But we got some fire hoses from President Jefferson. The owner asked me to check out what charts we needed for the voyage to India. He didn't trust the 2nd Officer or the Captain. I made a list of required BA charts. I wanted BA charts because they are delivered up to date and corrected. We had American charts onboard and Captain anted American charts so he made his own list and gave to the owner.
I asked the owner where the BA charts was and he told me that he only bought American charts.
- Yes, look!
I showed him the new charts and last correction was 10 years earlier. And when we passed Singapore there was land where it was supposed to be open water according to the charts. The reclaimed a lot of land in Singapore and this chart had not been corrected since 1959.
Master Cody next to President Jefferson
I asked 2nd and 3rd Officer to take a look around the ship to familiarize themselves with the safety equipment before we left San Francisco. I was told that this wasn't their job.
I don't understand what those 2 guys did on the ship.
Tug boat experience, yes, but from the tug boats in the Panama Canal. The 3rd officer told me that he was an Officer and that I should call him Sir. He demanded to be called Sir and I could not believe my ears.
- What.... Are you for real?
Sir and Officer, for sure, if he had joined a Swedish ship as a Deck boy they would have sent him home in less than 2 days, with the advice to reconsider his choice of occupation.
Our Bosun from Panama is another story. I'm used to Swedish standard and in Sweden a Bosun is an AB with extensive experience and a “KICK ARSE” attitude. But this guy just didn't had the spirit I was looking for and I had to show this Bosun how to paint and how to do the simplest things. Splicing a rope and I had to show him, well, pretty much everything. Yeah, I know, I was stupid and our Bosun could stand there with his hands in the pockets looking at me doing the job.
Finally we got the bridle at place on President Jefferson. It was not an easy job, but the tug boat owner was experienced and as soon as he took charge things started to move. Captain was only, well, I don't know what he did. I remember one afternoon on the fo'c's'le on President Jefferson.
They were pulling out the anchor chain slacking it down to Master Cody. And we're talking several ton of anchor chain. The captain held it with a rope while slacking and I jumped up on the cargo hatch on President Jefferson. I wanted to stay well clear of this.
- You're not going to help? Captain asked
- No, I' staying well clear this is dangerous what you're doing.
- You know nothing, he said
3 seconds later he was about to go overboard with the anchor chain
- Hmm, I guess you're right....
Saturday 20th of January 2001 and finally, time to leave an Francisco. President Jefferson had been alongside for many years waiting for a buyer and now we took her on her last voyage.
President Jefferson leaves San Francisco for her last voyage
Yes, it was quite nice to leave, darn, San Francisco was very cold. And it was the first time for me on a tug boat so it was exciting. President Jefferson came away from her berth without any problem.
We passed Alcatraz and we started to move up and down with the waves. But it became better when our Chief Engineer slacked on the towing wire.
He asked the Captain if it wasn't time to slack the wire.
- Up to you, do whatever you want!
So our Chief Engineer and I went back and we started to slack the wire.
Leaving San Francisco
Leaving San Francisco
Chief Engineer at the wire winch when passing Alcatraz
President Jefferson passing Alcatraz on her last voyage
President Jefferson leaving the Golden Gate behind on her last voyage
President Jefferson leaving the Golden Gate behind on her last voyage
President Jefferson leaving the Golden Gate behind on her last voyage
Of course, we could not slack very much or we would hav dragged the wire on the bottom. So we had to do it a little at the time. We went to the bridge to check out how much water we had under the keel before slacking the wire. Captain on the bridge sitting in the chair looking dead ahead, almost like paralyzed by fear.
- Do what you want with the wire!
Luckily enough our Chief Engineer was very experienced and he had done a lot of time onboard tug boats. And of course, I took the opportunity to learn. I had bought Diet Cokes, enough to fill my cabin during the week in San Francisco so I was sitting with the CHief Engineer watching the wire and the disapearing Golden Gate behind us. I had my last snus, yeah, I remember that I ran out of snus the very same day we left San Francisco so I had to have a coffin nail instead
Master Cody was floating up and down in the heavy swell as soon as we left San Francisco behind. But it was a small tug boat so there was no rolling, just au and down on the huge waves. I think the wire helped us a lot. The wire was 900 meters long and we had a draught of 150 meters.
I was so used to the tug boats movement after a few days so I had to check my cloths hanging for drying in my cabin when I woke up to see how the tug boat was moving. After a few days I was out of snus and Diet Coke. So I started to smoke and before reaching Singapore I was on 3 packs per day. Our Chief Engineer and Cook was on the bridge every night and it started with a borrowed cigarette from the Chief Engineer when I was out of snus. Yeah yeah you know the story.
Our Bosun spent Mondays to Fridays seasick in his cabin. Saturday's and Sunday's he was playing cards and singing in the mess room.
And as you can understand I got a wee bit irritated. Captain told me that he needed to rest during the weekend. I just gaped at him, I could not beleive what I just heard.
- A rest from what?
- He is working hard
- What??!! OK, you take over the responsibility for this guy and his work orderes.
Good for me, Captain took over my watches on the bridge and I worked from 8 to 5 and we spent the evenings playing domino
I'm not impressed by the sailors from Panama. Our Officers from Panama, of course, with plenty tug boat experience from the Panama Canal. They send e-mail daily to their crewing company and complained. They complained about the speed, seasickness and that they where afraid and could not sleep because they did not know where they where. I should have been embarrassed to call the company pissing and moaning about being lost.
For me it's beyond comprehension how you can accept a job as a navigator and then complain to your employer that you don't know where you are. (We had 3 GPS onboard) It kind of goes with the job to know where you are when you are a navigator.
When you accept a contract on a tug boat that are going to take a container ship on tow you can not expect to cruise over the ocean with the speed of a reefer ship. I still don't understand how those 2 Officer got there licenses. But rumour says that it's easy to buy a license.
8 of February and we're fishing from deck
Today everything should be on the cheap. But the company did not save any money on the cheap Panama crew. But still we have to compete with this cheap crew. And of course, the word racist was mentioned in the e-mail to the crewing agent in Panama.
You can be incompetent beyond believe, it is just to mention racism and you turn in to a very competent person and your Boss turns in to a simple racist and a good for nothing Nazi.
It took us about 3 weeks to reach Hawai. We caught fish on the way, quite big fishes but I don't know the name of the fish. And I was watch free so I started to clear out the ship, organising everything. Pinting in the accommodation and our store rooms. We had an extra cabin that was filled with junk and I burnt everything in a empty drum on deck. This bonfire was burning 27/7
The owner called the ship and he wanted to talk to me. He asked me to send daily position reports and an updated ETA daily.
- I don't know what happened with the Captain, but I only get strange info
- OK, I will take a look at it.
So I started my day by checking our ETA and position on the bridge. Captain also told me that he would send home the Captain and the Panamanian 2nd Officer from Honolulu.
- But don't tell them
Our way over the oceans. Click on points of interest for map
Tuesday 13th of January 2001 and our first stop was in Honolulu for bunkering. We arrived early morning after about 3 weeks sea voyage from San Francisco. When we arrived outside Honolulu we left Jefferson with a tug so we could go in and take the bunker. We were not alowed to bring President Jefferson to American terriorital water so we had to have a tug taking over President Jefferson while we went alongside to take bunker in Honolulu.
When we arrived to Hawai there were plenty war ships and helicopters in the waters around us. Turned out that there had been an American submarine that had hit a Japanese fishing vessel and they were looking for survivors.
9th of February 2001 The Ehime-maru, a Japanese fishing vessel, was hit by a US submarine Greenville about 18km off Honolulu. Soon after the collision, Ehime-maru went down the water. There were 35 people on board in the Ehime-maru, but nine of them are missing and presumed dead. The Ehime Maru was during a
Fishing boat Ehime-maru.
training voyage for students of the Uwajima Fisheries High School.
The Ehime Maru left Japan with 20 crew members on Jan. 10 to hunt for tuna, swordfish and shark. The boat was also carrying two teachers and 13 students from the Uwajima Fisheries
High School in the south-western Japanese state of Ehime. The students were learning how to fish.
The USS Greenville was practicing an emergency surfacing procedure known as "emergency main ballast blow" at the time of the incident. The USS Greeneville had been
Emergency main ballast blow.
practicing an emergency surfacing manoeuvre when it collided with a Japanese fishing ship Friday in waters off Diamond Head.
The Japanese vessel was split open and sank about 20 miles from Pearl Harbor after the submarine surfaced under it Friday. A massive search continues for nine people missing from the sunken ship Ehime-maru.
Coast Guard teams rescued 26 crew members. Later they found the wreck of Ehime-maru in 2000 feet of water.
USS Greenville in dry dock.
They dry docked USS Greenville at dry dock #1 at the Pear Harbor Naval shipyard to examine damage and to perform necessary repairs following the tragic Feb. 9 collision at sea with the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru.
Emergency surfacing by blowing its ballast tanks. Imagine this coming up through your fishing vessel
If you want you can read more about the incident here. It is an amazing story and the Commander went from The American Navy's golden boy to something the cat had dragged in in a jiff. Amazing how life can change within a blink of an eye.
The tug owner came onboard and he steered Master Cody to the bunker berth
The tug owner arrived with the new Captain on the tug boat that came to take President Jefferson while we took bunker in Honolulu. It's not a very easy operation to change over to their towing wire while rolling in heavy swell. We had to take home all of our wire with the winch until we got the bridle up on deck. Now you can imagine having this big chain on deck connected to a container ship only a few meters away.
Heavy rolling all the time. Winter in the Pacific and the bridle ripped of all fittings on our deck. It was very dangerous, the fittings were flying over deck and we had to pull up the towing wire from the other tug to connect to the bridle. Then we had to slack on our wire while the other tug was taking home the bridle connected to their wire and disconnect our wire before they could take over President Jefferson.
I left the ship for K-mart when we came alongside. I needed to buy some board games for the remaining journey. 3 weeks of domino and it tends to turn a wee bit boring. K-mart was within a few minutes walking from the ship and I was soon back onboard. The sacked Captain was not very happy, but as the owner said. If we have told him that he was sacked he could have started a lot of problem with the Coast Guard and God knows what. Captain was surprised when the owner showed up with the new Captain on Honolulu roads.
We needed every drop of bunker we could get onboard to get us to Singapore. All tanks brimmed and we discovered a hole on the ship side. A small hole and the gasoil were squirting out from the hole and in to the port. Would not have been very popular if someone would have noticed. It was a very small hole and it stopped as soon as we started to take bunker from the tank as the hole was at the top of the tank.
It was day light when we arrived and it was dark when it was time to take over President Jefferson outside Honolulu. But we managed and we were soon steaming Eastward towards the Philippines. No land until we reach the Philippines. And it was 5 to 6 weeks from Honolulu to the Philippines, so you understand that we didn't made any speed to write home about, 4 to 5 knots only. Closest land during the passage to the Philippines was Guam and when we passed Guam we were passing far away from Guam.
And our Fitter was very lucky. I don't know if lucky is the word I'm looking for. But he got a stroke the same day we passed Guam. He was in his cabin on the floor and the crew tried to help him. I ran up on the bridge and I called US Coast Guard. I don't know what kind of ship they thought I was working on.
- Steer towards Guam as quick as you can and we will send a helicopter.
- Thanks, I will update you with our course and position every 15 minutes.
Well, they must have thought that I was dead drunk, a new position every 15 minutes and it was almost the same position all the time. 4 knots is almost as we were drifting.
I went down to the crew and I told them that here was a helicopter coming
- Pack a bag with his pas port and stuff
- Helicopter, you are joking!!
They thought that I was joking. We're in the middle of the Pacific and I had managed to get a helicopter. They came to the bridge looking at me.
- How did you get a helicopter?
- I arranged one from US Coast Guard
- Show me how to do? Captain begged.
He didn't spoke any English and it was obvious that they didn't learn about publications in the Russian navigation schools. Everything is available in the ALRS (Admiralty List of Radio Signals) just to call the Coast Guard.
Our Fitter was picked up by the helicopter crew and he survived. And now we received e-mail every day from the owner on how expensive this had been. Hospital and tickets and stuff....
- Is this guy for real?
He should be happy that he survived. Sending away a ship on a 4 months journey with only 10 aspirin, a few plasters and some antacid onboard. And now he was complaining about the cost of sending the Fitter to the hospital
We're steaming on and on
We saw nothing but water between Hawaii and the Philippines, actually, I was disappointed. I had expected to see sharks and stuff. Nothing until we reached the Philippines where I saw Dolphins. But we were lucky with the weather after Hawaii, no swell and it was a pleasure trip. Nothing but the Pacific Ocean around us and thousands of miles to the closest islands.
Our Chief Engineer had a lap top, a Fujitsu and he was going to sell it. I think he wanted 150US$ for the computer. The owner of the tug boat was going to buy the computer “when he got money” so I gave the money to our Chief Engineer and I had my first computer ever. I knew f@ck all about computers and I ordered computer books to be delivered in Singapore. Of course, the tug owner was pissed off when I bought the computer that he was going to buy. But seriously, if you can't cough up 150 US$ you should not buy a computer.
And what attitude is that? Chief Engineer wanted to sell his computer and here he have a buyer that's has the cash and now he is expecting to wait until the tug owner gets 150 US$. Well, what did we care.
But there was a digital camera onboard, a SONY if I remember it right and it was with a floppy disk. Yeah, I bet there is a lot of you that don't know what a floppy disk is.
Back in the days when I had hair there was something called a floppy disk used to store data.
A Floppy disk
is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles. They are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD).
Floppy disks, initially as 8-inch (200 mm) media and later in 5.25-inch (133 mm) and 3.5-inch (89 mm) sizes, were a ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange from the mid-1970s well into the first decade of the 21st century.
By 2010, computer motherboards were rarely manufactured with floppy drive support; 3 1⁄2" floppies could be used with an external USB drive, but 5 1⁄4", 8", and non-standard drives could only be handled by old equipment.
While floppy disk drives still have some limited uses, especially with legacy industrial computer equipment, they have been superseded by data storage methods with much greater capacity, such as USB flash drives, portable external hard disk drives, optical discs, memory cards, and computer networks.
For more than two decades, the floppy disk was the primary external writable storage device used. Most computing environments before the 1990s were non-networked and floppy disks were the primary means of transferring data between computers, a method known informally as sneakernet. Unlike hard disks, floppy disks are handled and seen; even a novice user can identify a floppy disk.
Because of these factors, a picture of a 3 1⁄2" floppy disk has become a metaphor for saving data. The floppy disk symbol is still used by software on user interface elements related to saving files, such as the release of Microsoft Office 2010, even though such disks are increasingly obsolete.
There was space for a whopping 1,44MB on a disk. USB sticks were unheard of and to write a CD was space age technology. So you needed several floppy discs if you wanted to install a program.
Well, anyway, I took pictures but I only have a few of them left. But this was the first time for me with a computer. Yes, I had started my own web page, but I did all the work on John B's computer. I remember that I had to scan a few documents before leaving for Master Cody.
- Scan, what is that?
I went to buy a scanner, there was a computer store at Kville torget just outside John B's apartment. Yeah, as this was several years ago there was a computer shop and internet cafe in every corner. You don't need them anymore. Now a day everyone have their own internet. Well, anyway, we connected to John B's computer and, it took a few tries, but I managed to get the hang of it.
So the owner in Florida got copies of my certificates and I was ready to take off early next morning.
We reached the Philippines around 20th of March and we had to pass through the islands and we had to shorten our wire. The wire hanging 150m down and it will drag over the bottom and get destroyed or stuck in something. Not a situation you want to end up in. We also needed shorter wire so we could manoeuvre with our tow between the islands.
And we saw Dolphins swimming around our tug boat, there were plenty of them. I remember this day, it was hot and we were on deck eating oranges. Sunkist or whatever the name was. From California and it was like eating the best orange juice. This is the best citrus fruit I have ever had. Yes, much better than the Clementine from Morocco. It might have been genetically modified oranges. But they were good, very good. We finished a whole box of them in no time at all.
Otherwise I was just eating toast, I came down from the bridge one morning and I ran in to our Cook in the kitchen, he was making breakfast in his underwear. This is maybe normal in Russia, but not in Sweden so I only had toast after this. But I have to give it to him. I just looked at him while saying “EH EH EH” and he dashed of the get dressed.
Well, I don't understand how the owner could pay salary to have a Cook onboard. Jesus, the food he made, I would have made it better. He was practically nothing but a passenger. But he got inspired when he saw me painting all our store rooms and cabins. He called me one day.
- Hey, come have a look!
And he was proud, he had painted black spots on the red floor in the kitchen
- Look Look! Now we can't see the dirt! VERY VERY NICE!
And the worst part, he was really proud. Like he had solved the world's energy problem
Yeah, really nice to work with people that takes proud in their occupation and does a good job. And he told me that he wanted to become Bosun on deck. OK, hold it right there!
Well, today the ship owners just look at the cost. If they can fill a position in the crew list for, hmm, let's say 1000 US$ per month they do this instead of hiring a skilled person for 1500 US$. And I think it will cost more with the cheap crew in the long run.
We passed between the Philippine islands and we would have been an easy targets for pirates when we passed through the Philippines, making 4 - 5 knots. But I think the pirates could see that there was nothing to get from this tug. The only thing keeping us company was a few dolphins.
When approaching Malacca Strait we have to shorten the wire when we came to shallow water. And we need to be able to manoeuvre in Singapore Strait so we had President Jefferson on a short leash. We dropped the anchor at the Eastern anchorage to take the bunker and provision. We sent home our Bosun and we got a AB and Bosun from Sri Lanka, The last guy from Panama, the 3rd Officer jumped the ship in Singapore, good, now we got rid of him. But now it was only the Captain and me remaining so we did 6 hours watches on the bridge.
The owner or the broker of President Jefferson sent his representative to come onboard to make an inspection of the ship. Well, I think it was the broker, the same guy that was onboard President Jefferson in San Francisco, a British guy living in Thailand.
At the anchorage in Singapore there was a Greek tanker coming for bunkering as well. This idiot dropped anchor just next to us, about 1 cable away. Believe it or not, but he was actually going astern to be able to squeeze in between us and the next ship on our port side.
Smart move, next to a tug with tow. I tried to call him on VHF but the only reply was that he was at anchor and that he arrived before us.
I'm not going to give you 1 million if you can guess what happens when the tide is turning. But sure as hell when the tide was turning he starts to scream on the VHF that we have to move. Jefferson starts swinging to starboard turning her stern towards the Greek. Giving her a scratch in the paint along her starboard side. The Greek hoisted her anchor and disappeared and we never heard from her again. I think they realised what a stupid manoeuvre they did squeezing in between us and the other ship on the anchorage.
New Bosun and AB from Sri Lanka arrived in Singapore. Very good people. Now it was possible to keep good standard on the deck job. Hamsa and Wangsa where real professionals. It was a pleasure to work with them. Our Swedish Chief Engineer signed off and the Russian 2nd Engineer was promoted to Chief Engineer and we got a new 2nd Engineer from Russia and a fitter from Romania, all of a sudden we were kicking ass on the ship again. (not the kitchen department)
I had ordered snus from the tug owner. He had ordered it for his office in Florida and he had sent it to Singapore. Very good, but after a long time without snus it was very painful for my gum to start again. But I was soon used to it.
I ordered, I think it was 20kg salted peanuts + chocolate and computer books that was delivered to me as well. I had 1 tin of peanuts and some chocolate first thing. I got this terrible agony over my losing battle against obesity. My cabin was full of peanuts and I gave a few tins to the ABs from Sri Lanka. I went to see them the day after again with more peanuts.
- No, thank you. We have enough.
I asked them if they wanted to work 8 hours a day and eat peanuts or if they wanted to work 12 hours a day.
I remember one day when we were steaming towards Alang, the guys were relaxing on the fo'c's'le enjoying a beautiful evening. I started to drop peanut cans and chocolate bars from the bridge.
- OK WE WILL WORK 24 HOURS PER DAY?? NO MORE PEANUTS!! PLEASE!!
- No, now it is too late. 8 hours only and peanuts.
I was out of peanuts before we reached India. Of course, less than a week later I went to their cabin looking for my peanuts. I wanted peanuts and I regretted that I had given them away.
- They are finished
We arrived to Singapore on the bunker fumes. We just made it and the engine department was using small air driven pumps to suck the last gas oil from the bottom of the tanks so we could run the engines all the way to the anchorage. We had actually planned to stop for bunker in Brunei. But they decided to go straight to Singapore and we were just making it.
So we needed to fill our tanks to the brim to be able to reach India with our tow. We had the usual trouble with the bunker boat. They always try with their tricks.
20 tons was missing and we really needed the 20 tons to make it to India. I called the tug owner in Florida and he asked me to kick their ass.
- We must have all the bunker, otherwise we won't make it.
- OK, I will go down and speak with them
I went down and asked them to deliver the last 20 tons.
- Sorry Sir but we don't have any more. You have received everything you ordered.
I got pissed off.
- Hey, I'm not in a good mood!!
- We don't have any more gas oil for you!
- First I had the Greek a-hole dropping his anchor on our place and a 3rd Officer jumping the ship. I really don't need this shit. You better delivering the last 20 tons.
I was screaming and I think they crapped their pants and Ipsi wipsi wu they found the last gas oil. These shady bunker characters disappeared to the bunker barge in a jiff and they started to pump gasoil that, according to them, had been delivered to us already.
They try all the tricks, always the same problem taking bunker in Singapore. But I think it has become better now. I haven't had any problem or heard of any problems for quite a while. But of course depending on the company you use.
This company really did know how to keep the good crew coming back. Well saving a few cents here and there. Losing dollars here and there. When the ship was in Honolulu on the way to San Francisco the US coastguard paid them a visit. This visit ended with a long list of items that have to be corrected before they were allowed to leave Honolulu and items that had to be corrected before leaving next US port. This bill was not cheap. But that's another account, the food and crew is still cheap.
This is the lunch. It's nice to come to a nicely set table after hard work. One Sunday the AB came to Sunday dinner after 12 hours hard work. For dinner there were baked beans. I don't have to tell you that he was very disappointed.
The man in the kitchen (he called himself "Chief Cook") was working in his underwear only. I have never even heard of something like this before. But it was good for me; I lost 30 kg and the company saved several cents.
But I don't know, maybe it's cheaper to hire cheap crew that are satisfied with baked beans for dinner in the long run than to hire a skilled crew that want to keep the ship "ship shape". And why wasting money on buying food that the Chief Cook will destroy?
It was very nice to leave Singapore behind and we expected about 1 month to reach India. We will stop in Bombay to get onboard the broker's representative again. Then he will stay onboard President Jefferson until the owners have received their money and we will beach her.
We left Singapore and now the 2 guys from Sri Lanka was doing a very good job on deck while our Captaina nd I took 6 hours watches on the bridge.
And when passing through Singapore Strait we had several reporting points and I looked in the ALRS and I asked Captain if he had reported at the point we passed when I relieved him.
- Yeah, we have all these reporting points
- Ah, that s why they have called us all the time.
As the owner of the tug boat told me:
- It is a very good Captain, but he doesn't speak English.
But we managed to get Master Cody and President Jefferson out of Singapore and Malacca Strait. Even though we did 6 hours watches on the bridge I was in a good mood. Our guys from Sri Lanka were very good and the Rumanian Fitter was also very good. The Russian Chief Engineer was very good and easy to work with and we got a whole lot of work done onboard
But we had just left Malacca Strait behind when our steering engine burnt up and we had to go to hand steering. Wheel and wires to the rudder and this was very hard. We had to have the 2 deck crew on watches, 6 by 6 so the work on deck came to a full stop.
I joked with one of the ABs and I told him hard to starboard. He was almost dead when he had managed to get the rudder 10 degrees to starboard.
- HEY! I was just joking
So it was just to keep the rudder mid ships and use as small rudder movements as possible to avoid killing the helmsmen.
We stopped at Bombay to get onboard the broker's representative. He would stay onboard President Jefferson until she was beached, or if he joined us in Alang. I don't remember, but we were not allowed to beach President Jefferson until he gave us the go. We left Bombay steaming towards Alang, I don't remember how long time it took us, but Bombay to Alang is not all that long so a few days tops.
But I remember that there were plenty fishing boats on the way to Alang. We were steaming North of India's West coast and we were pretty excited to finally approaching the destination. No one onboard had ever been in Alang so we didn't know what to expect. And of course, after 3 months it would be nice to finally deliver President Jefferson.
Thursday 26th of April 2001 and we arrived to the Gulf of Khambhat in the dark early morning, about 3 months after leaving San Francisco. We should be at the Bhavnagar roads at 9 o'clock in the morning or something for the authorities to come onboard. It was important to be there in the right time because of the tide. They where annoying us all the time with the arrival time and that it was very IMPORTANT to be there exactly on the right time.
Well Captain and I were soon feed up with this tide bull shit, I mean how bad can it be?
Alang is situated on the West side of Gulf of Khambhat. We were approaching Gulf of Khambhat from SW and we should proceed to the head of the gulf to the Bhavnagar roads where the authorities should board us. When we were passing Alang the gulf became very narrow and we changed course to steer a northerly course until passing the Island Parim Bet SE of Bhavnagar roads when it became very narrow.
When we arrived to the Bhavnagar roads it was slack tide for a while. We thought that we just had to drop the anchors at the road, do the paper work and scratch our ass until it was time for the beaching. They told us NOT to drop the anchor. Captain thought they were crazy.
- How bad can this tide water be?
But we were soon realising the seriousness. The authorities and the buyer of President Jefferson came onboard on the roads. We were just waiting for confirmation from the broker's representative that the money was in the bank before we could beach President Jefferson. I was on watch and I noticed that something was wrong, I increased speed and we were still moving back. The tide water was coming in with full force and we were moving backwards even though I was making full ahead.
If we had dropped the anchor we would have lost the anchor + chain and most likely Jefferson and the tug boat. Beaching a big ship so of course, this requires a very big difference between high and low water. If I remember it right it was something like 10 to 14 meters difference between high and low water so the current is enormous in the narrow Gulf of Khambhat.
President Jefferson and the buyer of President Jefferson
The new owner and the authorities left us and we were told to steam up and down outside Alang
The Island has been known since fourteenth century and was then held by Baria Kolis of Gujarat. It then passed into the hands of Mokhdaji Gohil of Umrala in 1325. Gohil's power was short lived.
About 1347, complains of his piracy were laid before the Emperor Mohammad Tughlug, then in Gujarat quelling a revolt. Advancing in person he attacked Piram,slay Mokhdaji and took over his fort.
On Mokhdaji's defeat, the Island was deserted. After this failure no attempt was made to fortify Piram, till, on the decay of Moghul power about the middle of the eighteenth century, a merchant Surat named Mulla Muhammad Ali, built a fort on Piram with an intention to establish himself as an independent chief.
The light house tower built from the ruins of Mulla's fortress, is being renovated at present. The whole Island at the present has no drinking water resources and is almost barren of human population.
until the money was confirmed on the sellers account. So we were steaming North and South from the island Parim Bet and a position South of Alang.
I remember one night , I was coming from South and I was turning around at Parim Bet to start steaming South again. At the narrow part at Parim Bet the tide kicked in full force. We could not steer and it was just to follow the tide. I almost lost our tow, a tripping tow is nothing you wish for. I changed course to Port side to change course 180°. Master Cody turned about 90° and not more and the tow just continued northward. I called the Engineer in the engine room.
- FULL SPEED!!
He came running to the bridge, he didn't understand English so I pointed at the RPM meter.
- FULL SPEED!!! QUICK QUICK!!!!
I was on the bridge wing screaming at to the helmsman.
- What is the course?
That is the difference by driving a car and a ship. A car has a heading and the car moves in that
The Gulf of Khambhat
(formerly known as the Gulf of Cambay) is an inlet of the Arabian Sea along the west coast of India, in the state of Gujarat. It is about 80 miles in length, and divides the Kathiawar peninsula to the west from the eastern part of Gujarat state on the east.
The Narmada and Tapti rivers empty into the Gulf. The Gulf is shallow and abounds in shoals and sandbanks including the Mal Bank at the river mouths and the Malacca Banks at the gulf's entrance to the Arabian Sea. The Gulf is known for its extreme tides, which vary greatly in height and run into it with amazing speed. At low tide the bottom is left nearly dry for some distance below the town of Khambhat.
The Alang Ship Recycling Yard takes advantage of the extreme high tides of the gulf. Large ships are beached during the twice-monthly highest tides, and are dismantled when the tide recedes.
The Gulf of Khambhat has been an important centre of trade since ancient times; its ports connect central India to the maritime trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Bharuch (Broach), Surat, Khambhat, Bhavnagar, and Daman are historically important seaports. Bharuch has been important since ancient times; Khambhat was the gulf's chief port in the Middle Ages, but after the silting of its harbour, Surat rose to prominence as the most important harbour of the Mughal empire.
direction unless the gear is in reverse. But a ship can have a heading but the ship can move in any direction. Master Cody was heading West, President Jefferson was heading North and we were moving North.
We were moving towards shore and if I didn't get full ahead there was nothing I could do. And I was really hoping that full ahead would do it for us. I was not sure. But we got full speed and I managed to get hour heading from West to South. And believe me, when President Jefferson started to turn to port I was very happy
I had both Master Cody and President Jefferson heading South but we were still moving North. Full speed ahead, but now I know that we would soon start to move forward, then I knew that the current slowed down and I could reduce our engine. Well, If I can say it myself, we became pretty good in manoeuvre the ship in this tide.
Going with the tide up and turning around just before the tide became too strong and then with full ahead towards the tide until we start moving forward. Then we just went with the tide out from the Parim Ben to the Arabian Sea. And then we turned with the tide again and started to steam towards Bhavnagar roads again. I think we did this for 2 days, but it felt like a week.
Saturday 28th of April 2001 and President Jefferson was afloat for the last time. In the evening it was time for the beaching and we had to wait outside the beach for the high water. They had people onboard President Jefferson and they had people with blow torches stand-by on the fo'c's'le to cut the chain bridle. We were going full ahead towards the beach and just before we reached the beach we put hard to starboard and President Jefferson would continue straight until she was standing on the sand bottom. We were putting hard to starboard while slacking the wire and we could see the blow torches coming to work on President Jefferson.
Plenty wrecks on the beach in Alang
Plenty wrecks on the beach in Alang
Plenty wrecks on the beach in Alang
Plenty wrecks on the beach in Alang
President Jefferson at the end station, Alang in India
She had been beached for just a very short time and they had started to cut her up to scrap
We're watching them cutting up President Jefferson
If they would fail to cut the chain we would rip off wire winches and everything from our tug boat. But they managed to cut the anchor chains and we were finally free from President Jefferson. We dropped our anchor not far away from President Jefferson. We would board President Jefferson the next day to pick up our equipment.
We came alongside President Jefferson and we only had a very short time to get onboard to get our equipment before the high water disappeared and we would be on the bottom. I picked up our solar driven lanterns and I left President Jefferson and we left Alang for new adventures.
On the foc's'le
The adventure was not over. Now we start chasing over the Indian Ocean for a new job. First the company wanted us to pick up a ship in Vishakhapatnam and tow it to Chittagong for scraping. This job was cancelled and now we were setting sail to rescue a Korean or Taiwanese fishing boat outside Madagascar. We didn't have any charts so I had to use our chart catalogue for navigation.
Gulf of Aden
Thursday 10th of May 2001 and we dropped our anchor in Aden. The fishing boat adventure was cancelled and we ended up in Gulf of Aden. We were going to escort a ship from Gulf of Aden to Gulf of kachchh for scrapping. The ship had a working engine, but they wanted a tug boat as escort so we understand in what shape the engine was in. This job was cancelled so we ended up in Aden. We needed bunker and some provision. I only remember that I received a few cases of diet drinks on the anchorage, I still remember when I saw the service boat arriving with my cases of diet drinks and I was very happy. I haven't had a diet drink in a very long time.
The anchorage was full of Iraqi ships that had been there since the war started back in 1991. So they had been there for a very long time. We were not allowed to go ashore, it would cost the tug boat owner 20 US$ or so. So he sent an e-mail with an excuse. Big problem with authorities and we are stand-by to leave. The only one that could go ashore was our Cook, he needed to see a Doctor.
Yeah, the guy that had been sleeping his way through the voyage, for sure, he had not spent much time cooking and cleaning the galley. So I was feed up with this bull shit. The tug boat owner was looking at a new boat in Singapore and he wanted me to join him and the Swedish Chief Engineer to have a look at the boat when we arrived to Singapore. I would join as Captain, but I sent him an e-mail. “Don't send any money to my bank, I will take it in cash when we're in Singapore” My plan was to take the cash and f@ck off out of there.
Too much, our kitchen looked like shit. I was almost throwing up when I passed the kitchen, blood running from the fridge, well, it was nasty. OK, good, I didn't eat anything. But I wanted tea so I asked the owner to buy a tea machine for the bridge. The reply: I will consider it. There have been a lot of expenses with the Fitter that the Coast Guard picked up outside Guam.
What the ? Consider??!! Yeah, you consider when you're buying a new car or a new house. Not when you buy a 15 US$ tea machine. I'm out of here as soon as we reach Singapore. According to our Cook there was a Seaman's club in Aden. He had been there before coming back to the ship and we could see a boat leaving to pick up the crew on the Iraqi ships in the evening. I don't know how long we stayed in Aden, but I called Broström when we passed Sri Lanka on our way to Singapore and they needed me on Bro Nelly in the beginning of June.
Wednesday 30th of May 2001 and we arrived to Singapore and we were moored at the shipyard in the late afternoon. It was a heavy rain, but that didn't stop me. I was going ashore to get dead drunk. Of course, no money from the owner. We had to wait for him to bring cash.
That's the attitude we're looking for, we have been onboard a small tug boat for 4 months and he expect us to sit onboard waiting for money. I took the 2 ABs from Sri Lanka with me and we got cash with my VISA card
We ended up at a disco close to Orchard Road and I got so drunk I don't even remember how I came onboard. But the guys from Sri Lanka told me that they had carried me back to the ship. The owner came onboard the day after and he told me that the Agent would bring my money later onin the afternoon.
- Well, he can bring the money to my hotel. I will check in at Raffles Stamford
I got a room at Stamford Raffles and the Agent came with my money in the afternoon. I was tipsy when he came, well, I had been tipsy since arrival to Singapore and I bought my first ever lap top/ computer while tipsy in Singapore. I paid around 4000 US$ for the darn computer, a state of the art HP computer and it was half price compared to Sweden.
So I have bought 2 computers in Singapore, the first one 2001 and my second computer 2011 after the fire fighting course in Johor Bahru and I have been drunk both times.
It was my best ever signing off, 4 and a half month on a very small tug boat. So of course it wqas nice to get ashore. It was fun and interesting onboard and who knows, I might still have been in the company if it wasn't for the money. Concider buying a tea machine! And he should be happy that the Panamanian Fitter didn't died. We got an e-mail from the American Coast guard.
“Chief Officer Aladdin and the crew did an excellent job” Not the Captain and I was the only one speaking English onboard so God knows what would have happened if there wouldn't have been anyone being able to call the Coast Guard.
OK, it has come to my knowledge that we have senior citizens visiting my web page. How hard can it be? So it's not very easy for them to see the blue coloured links to the next page.
Jiffy (also jiff)
noun [in SING.] informal a moment: we'll be back in a jiffy.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: of unknown origin.
So as you understand, in a jiff pretty much depends on your internet.
So I put a “Next” button here and I hope that there isn't any problem to understand how to use that one. So just CLICK the “Next” button on your left hand side and you will be on the next page in a jiff!
Marunong ka mag-tagalog? Walang problema! Magpunta sa kabilang pahina pindutin ang “NEXT” button sa itaas
Faites vous parlez le français? Pas de problème! Pour arriver à la page suivante faites s'il vous plaît un déclic le bouton “Next” ci-dessus!
Haga usted dice el español? No hay problema! Ver la siguiente página sólo hacer clic el botón “Next” encima!
Farla parla l'italiano? Non problemi! Per vedere la prossima pagina lo scatto per favore giusto Il bottone “Next” sopra
Sprechen sie Deutsch! Kein problem! Wenn Sie die folgende Seite sehen wollen gerade klicken der Knopf “Next” oben!