Written onboard M/T Ek-Star August 2010
Bellona in Skagerack
I took this picture during the winter of 1987 when I was on Bellatrix
Build 1965 at Oskarshamns Varv, Oskarshamn. # 388
Tonnage: 1599 grt, 919 nrt, 2.949 dwt
Dim: 87,02 x 12,44 x 6,01 m.
Draft: 5,45 m.
Engine: Oil 4SA 6-cyl., 2.400 bhp, MaK.
She was delivered as STELLA ATLANTIC to Rederi AB Bertil Skanse & Co in Skärhamn, Sweden 1965
She was sold to Rederi AB Castor, Uddevalla, Sweden and renamed BELLONA 1978
Bellona was rebuilt in Poland 1997
New Tonnage: 2.366 grt, 1.173 nrt, 3.794 dwt
Dim: 87,50 x 12,43 x 6,02 m
Bellona was sold to Lukoil Bulgaria Bunker Ltd, Bulgaria 2009. No change of name
I took these pictures 10th of May 2003 when we meet Bellona in Drogden, Öresund when I was on CT Star
I signed on in Brofjorden 1st of June 1990. After a long time in school it was nice to be back for work, well, kind of anyway. For sure I needed money, my valet was blank after 2 years in school and party.
When the taxi dropped me at the gate in Brofjorden I saw Bellona lying alongside jetty #2. When I saw her I wasn't so impressed, it was an old and small ship.
But the trip turned out to be a nice one. We had a good time and we had the time to go ashore for some good times on several occasions.
Today I don't understand how we found the time to go ashore having a good time in every port. Today there is not even time to go ashore buying snus.
You need every hour of sleep that you can get.
I think our first port was Szczecin for loading. We stopped at Gothenburg anchorage for bunkering on our way South from Brofjorden to Szczecin in Poland.
We were loading in Szczecin a few times during my time onboard. From Brofjorden to Swinoujscie Pilot station it was maybe 24 hours. Szczecin was a nice place regarding the night life, but the port was terrible in the summer. It seems like the whole of Szczecin is situated in a swamp.
There is a big lake, Jezioro Dabie. And God, there were mosquitoes. Billions of them and it was terrible. They ate you alive and it was almost impossible to be on deck.
To get to Szczecin we had to take Pilot from Swinoujscie through the Piast canal to the Lake
Stettiner Haff and up the River Oder which passes through
German: Stettin, is the capital city of West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of the 2005 census the city had a total population of 420,638. In June 2009 its population was 406,427.
Szczecin is located on the Oder River, south of the Lagoon of Szczecin and the Bay of Pomerania. The city is situated along the south-western shore of Dąbie Lake, on both sides of Oder and on several large islands between western and eastern branch of the river. Szczecin borders with town of Police, seat of the Police County, situated at an estuary of the Oder River.
The city evolved from an early medieval Pomeranian stronghold, which in 1243 was merged with two adjacent German settlements, creating the present-day Old Town.
Stettin remained with Sweden until the Treaty of Stockholm (1720), when it was integrated into the Brandenburg-Prussian part of Pomerania. After the Second World War, the city was annexed by Poland, and its inhabitants fled or were forcibly expelled.
German: Swinemünde is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Usedom and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by a Piast canal dug in the late 19th century to facilitate ship access to Szczecin.
Most of the time we had to drop anchor outside Swinoujscie to wait for our jetty to be available. One time while waiting, in Poland they never knew when we should proceed alongside. It could be everything from a few hours to a few days.
Well, anyway, one morning the pilot just entered us. It was around 4-5 o'clock in the morning and the pilot just boarded us without prior notice. When he came on the bridge he stank of vodka.
2nd Officer called the engine department and Captain. We were ready to hoist our anchor when the pilot realized that he had entered the wrong ship. Hmm, Poland and East Europe in a nut shell.
But we had time for chipping and painting while anchored outside Swinoujscie. And the spring of 1990 had been a very beautiful spring, and the summer continued with sunshine and blue sky.
And when it was time to proceed up the River Oder to Szczecin it was nice, we knew that there was a chance for going ashore having a good time in Szczecin.
This was 1990 and there were big changes going on in Europe, at least in Easter Europe. I went ashore with one of our ABs when we came to Szczecin the first time.
There were exchange offices all over Szczecin and the days of exchanging on the black market were gone. Now it had become expensive in Poland as well.
A few years ago you changed 20 US on the street and it was almost impossible to finish the money. Well, today it is a different story and you wonder were your 20$ disappeared.
Hmm, just to grab another 20$ bill and order a new round of beer.
Yeah, I forgot, expensive, but now you could find stuff to spend your money on. And we could drink the beer now, it was imported. German and Danish beer.
Back in the cheap days there were Polish beer that set you back 10 ¢ per bottle. But it was awful, tasted like toxic waste so you had to spend 1 hour to finish a bottle.
So of course it was cheap. The imported beer was worth the extra money.
Well, back then there was really only one choice if you wanted to get drunk, to drink vodka and orange juice.
We walked around the city for a while with stops for beer and when we got bored out of our minds bored with the sights we went for a NIGHT CLUB. But during our walk around town I also saw a Polish version of the Monopoly game. The old communism time was a goner.
We ended up on a night club were they were throwing a show with a juggler and some other stuff. They performed on the floor and I remember that I wanted to perform as well so I was up dancing.
I ended up in the jugglers props and I managed to kick it all over the place. They collected all the stuff and the show continued like nothing had happened and there was no problem. But when we moved along to a disco in one of the big hotels they kicked us out.
Well, anyway, it was time for my nap.
One time when we visited Szczecin we took a taxi to the city for a good night out. We ended up in a disco and we meet our old Chief Officer.
He had been sent home by the Captain on our last trip. At departure from, I think it was Rostock, he had moved away from the fo’c’s’le when Captain was using the spring line to swing the ship out from the jetty.
Well, any normal sailor would have moved away. Captain was a crazy one, well known idiot and he was sent home later and the Chief Officer came back.
Anyway, we meet the Chief Officer at the disco in town and we were at least to say surprised to see him on Szczecin.
- What the are you doing here??!!
- I'm on holiday in Szczecin.
- Holiday in Szczecin!!?? Are you joking?
One of the ABs pulled down his pants and underwear and fronted some of the guests and we were thrown out. So we had to look for a new place and I remember that I and the Chief Officer was going around Szczecin looking for a place. But no luck.
Well, there was time for work as well. It was summer and we were very lucky with the weather and we had plenty painting to do.
As said before it was 1990 and big changes in Europe. But East Germany and Poland was pretty much the same story as always when arriving with a ship.
Maybe going alongside tomorrow or maybe not. We spent a few days waiting at the anchorage and we painted the ship. I could work as much as I wanted so I was bust from early morning to late night with chipping and painting.
Captain refused to sign my working hours. Yes, it was the same Hill Billy that sent home the Chief Officer.
Yes, he was a notorious character and everyone knew the guy.
- Have you been on Bellona?
- Then you know Captain Stupid?
He was running around with the agreement between our trade union and the employers' association.
- The anarchy is spreading over the ship.
What the f@ck is wrong with this guy. Here I am working for free.
Well, I could have been sitting in the mess room scratching my arse instead of painting. And that's how the whole thing started, when I joined the ship Captain complained that the ABs were only sitting in the mess room. So they were not allowed to do any over time.
So I started to work during my night watches. For me it was very good. Instead of sitting on the bridge I was painting and cleaning the accommodation. And of course, then I started to work over time. Chipping and painting on deck.
I worked 10 to 12 hours a day and Captain refused to sign my overtime. Well, 2nd Officer told me that he was writing down all my hours. Yeah, first Captain says that the ABs don't work and when they work he complains about the over time. So it went on like this pretty much every day.
Well, anyway, a well known troglodyte and he were fired later on. I mean, this guy had really made it in his life.
Everyone he meets thought that he was an idiot. And when he signed off there was not a sad face to be seen. Well, maybe his wife's.
The main difference you could see when going ashore in East Germany was all the promotion for western cigarette brands and German beer. Well, one good thing was that they had started to play some good music on the radio. While anchored outside Rostock I listened to East German radio. And there was very good music on the radio.
Back in the day the East German radio was as exciting as a car from East Germany. You didn't spend many seconds listening to the, yeah, whatever you want to call it.
I went ashore for a walk with our Motorman in Rostock, East Germany and we could see the difference. It was like a lemming migration coming from Germany with free cigarette samples and shit. I could not help it, but I thought East Germany reminded me of a carnival without the roundabouts. But it was nice to see them starting to renovate the old beautiful houses.
OK, on the picture above we have a street in Rostock. at the end is a small square. And on the right corner is a bar. This is the place where I had 3 or 4 East German police cars to come pick me up a few years ago.
Today Rostock city center is very beautiful with the old houses nicely renovated. Plenty restaurants and bars. And there were many Japanese cars and West European cars on the roads.
We also went to Wismar in east Germany. Don't ask me if we were loading or discharging.
But I went ashore for a walk with the Motorman to have a look at the town. I had been there before and as you can guess. I had trouble with the Police, no, I think it was with the military in Wismar a few years back when it was the real east Germany.
In comparison with Rostock Wismar was still in an East German state. Of course, there were the West German beers and cigarettes.
We took the walk to the town and we stopped for a beer, but the place was really nothing to write home about. There was a church under renovation. This was, if I remember it right, a famous church and we had a quick look before we continued.
Wismar was pretty run down and some of the houses looked like they were going to fall apart any second.
But we could see that it would have been a very beautiful city if the just renovated and painted the houses.
But we could see that there were work in progress, not to the same
extent as in Rostock, but anyway.
is a small port and Hanseatic League town in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, about 45 km due east of Lübeck, and 30 km due north of Schwerin. Its natural harbour, located in the Bay of Wismar is well-protected by a promontory. The population was 45,414 in March 2005, more than doubled from 21,902 in 1905.
Representative of Hanseatic League city brick construction as well as the German brick churches, the city has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 2002.
Under Swedish rule
By the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 Wismar passed to Sweden, with a lordship to which it gives its name. Through Wismar and the other dominions in the Holy Roman Empire, the Swedish monarchs in their roles as princes, or Reichsfürsten, took part in the Imperial Diets. From 1653 it was the seat of the highest court for that part of Sweden. In 1803 Sweden pledged both town and lordship to Mecklenburg for 1,258,000 Riksdaler, reserving, however, the right of redemption after 100 years. In view of this contingent right of Sweden, Wismar was not represented in the diet of Mecklenburg until 1897. In 1903 Sweden finally renounced its claims. Wismar still retains a few relics of its old liberties, including the right to fly its own flag.
The 80 m high tower church of St Mary (Marienkirche) is the only remainder of the original Brick Gothic edifice, built in the first half of the 13th century. It suffered heavy damage in World War II, and was deliberately destroyed in 1960 under the East German Communist government.
And the church, I write this in 2010 and we have internet. Unheard of back in 1990 and when looking for information about the church I saw that they had managed to make a nice city out of Wismar.
And as we can see on the info from Wikipedia the church has a name, Marienkirche.
We spent a few hours walking around looking at the views before we returned to the ship. And it was pretty nice to get back onboard
I was not onboard for a very long time, I had to go home to be able to make it to Roger Waters concert in Berlin the 21st of July. I only remember signing on in Brofjorden, Szczecin, Wismar and Rostock. But when I look at my pictures I see that we had been in Norway as well. But I have no clue where we went or what we did.
Well, I don't remember Norway. But I remember that we went to discharge in Åbenrå, Denmark. I'm almost sure that it was Åbenrå close to the German border. So maybe we had loaded in Norway for Åbenrå, Denmark. Who knows? And it really doesn’t matter.
Well, anyway, when we should discharge and we had to wait until the next day for them to start cargo operations. Well, spending Saturday night onboard waiting was nothing for us. But Åbenrå wasn't the most exciting place to visit, not even on a Saturday night.
What to do? Well, I got the idea of going to Flensburg in Germany.
- How do we get there? Motorman and one of the ABs asked, obviously excited over the possibility to get some Saturday night action.
- By taxi, I said.
- It's too expensive, blah- blah -bla
- No pissing and moaning please!! Where is your spirit? I asked.
- Let's sell some cigarettes, I said.
- Yeah, very good, they answered. Let's go already!
It's very expensive with cigarettes in Denmark and they prefer Cecil and Prince and we brought as many cartons we could carry (we had a whole lot of beers to carry as well, long ride). We would sell the coffin nails and we would have plenty money to spend on beer and other stuff. Prince was good because they always asking for Prince.
We started with the taxi driver.
- Do you have Cecil?
_ No, but red Prince we replied.
- I only want Cecil!
- Motherf@cker, I was thinking.
We took a tour around town in our taxi that was full of cigarettes looking for people wanting to buy cigarettes. Not one single soul! I never sold cigarettes before in Denmark, but every time I had been in Denmark with ships you had to fight your way through crowds of people wanting to buy cigarettes.
We got feed up going around a boring Åbenrå looking for people wanting to buy cigarettes so we told the driver to take us to Germany, we had VISA card and obviously plastic money is better than cigarettes.
Even though we had plenty beers with us for the ride we were in a hurry to a nice bar with music and some females to talk to. So we told the driver to floor it and we were soon at the border to Germany.
Well, we had to pass the border between Germany and Denmark with our TAX FREE tobacco. We hadn't thought of that possibility. We took as much cigarettes we could carry on us and we gave the rest to the driver, most of the cigarettes that was, motherf@cker!
But we smoked like there was no tomorrow in order to decrease the value of our gift to the driver as much as we could.
We managed to pass the boarder without getting caught. They only asked us a few questions and we could pass through. We arrived to Flensburg in a good mood even though our cigarette business was a big setback. We wanted to have a good time and we forgot about the cigarettes.
Actually, we gave away the last cartons of cigarettes in Flensburg, yeah, who wants to look like a fool carrying around cartons of cigarettes?
I don't remember much of Flensburg, but I know that I don't have any desire to go back.
We had the owner’s grandson onboard for a few weeks. He was onboard as a deck boy and he was learning the tricks of the trade and to become a salty sailor. He was going to sign off together with us in Frederica, Denmark 9th of July 1990.
He was going to Gothenburg via Fredrikshamn and I was going with Motorman via Copenhagen. He was going to Helsingborg and I was going to Gothenburg. But I joined him because I wouldn't mind a night of fun in Copenhagen.
- I haven't been in Copenhagen for a long time, I said to Motorman.
- OK, join me on the train to Copenhagen.
So we left with the train to Copenhagen and the Deck boy went for Fredrikshamn with his suitcase full of ready-made waffle mix.
Yes, we had hidden a few packages of ready-made waffle mix in his suitcase. They told me onboard that they had ordered a waffle iron and ready-made waffle mix for the ship.
The ship owner sent his son to get back the waffle iron.“ Here is not going to be any waffles on this ship!! ” he said and left.
It was a very long guy so he hit his head in the door frame so he left with the waffle iron and blood running down from his head.
Well, he forgot to bring the ready-made waffle mix with him so we thought it would be a good idea to send it with the grandson.
We were tipsy already before getting on the train and our mood improved by the hour towards Copenhagen. They sold beers on the train so no worries. We had my entertainment centre with us. Our Motorman had a guitar, but he had yet to learn how to play.
And of course, after a case of beer we were handsome enough to enter a compartment full of girls. More beers and the spirit were high.
As I said, our mood improved by the hour on the way towards Copenhagen, well, that was until about 1 hour before arrival to Copenhagen.
We arrived to Copenhagen in the evening and we had downed more than a few beers on the trip and we were getting tired. You don't need much imagination to understand how the train compartment looked like at arrival to Copenhagen train station.
We had been looking forward to our night in Copenhagen, but when we arrived we were not fit for fight. We went to the ferry terminal to look for lockers for our luggage, but I got on the ferry to Malmö, Sweden.
I spent a few hours waiting for my train to Gothenburg and I managed to destroy my Samsonite suitcase.
I was pitch camp in my bag outside the train station and the suitcase never recovered after that experience. Impossible to close the bag properly after that, unless I was standing on top of the suitcase while locking the locks.
- Hmm, I wasn't in a very good shape when arriving to Gothenburg.
I was off to Berlin a few days later. I had a meeting at "Treffpunkte Berlin" the 20th of July with my friend and we would join the Roger Waters and The Wall concert party in Berlin the 21st of July 1990.
This party was something I had been looking forward to.
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