Written onboard M/T Ek-Star July 2010
Picture from www.faktaomfartyg.se Postcard from Peter Asklander's collection
Picture from www.faktaomfartyg.se © Photo by Paul Morgan
Nordic Stream was built 1979 in Oskarshamn, Sweden. She was 183,14 m long and 24,04 m wide
She was delivered to OT-Shipping as Finneagle. Back in 1980 there was a fire onboard in the Atlantic ocean and they had to abandon the ship.
Johnson bought the ship 1982 and named her Nordic Stream.
1985 she was sold to Johnson in Panama
1989 she was sold to Laser Lines in Stockholm
1992 she was sold CRESENT SHIP MNGMT LTD, Bahamas. M/S EXONBURY.
1992 she was renamed to M/S JOLLY ARGENTO and at 1993 she was renamed again, back to M/S EXONBURY.
1995 she was sold to UND RO-RO ISLETMELERI AS, Turkey. M/S UND HAYRI EKINCI
When I was working on Nordic Stream she was sailing for Laset Lines
I signed on Nordic Stream on a beautiful summer day in Gothenburg 24th of July 1989 as a AB. We were loading containers and trailers and we had 3 more ports in Europe before we left for South and Central America. We spent the day in Gothenburg, but I don't know for how many days Nordic Stream had been in Gothenburg.
We left for Hamburg in the evening the same day I joined the ship. Gothenburg to Hamburg was less than 24 hours and we did not spend many hours in Hamburg. We loaded 2 giant engines in Hamburg for St. Lucia where the machines should be used as generators. These two machines were really big so there were people from a magazine taking pictures of the event.
We also loaded used cars and trucks for Jamaica and Central America. SO deck was full of trailers, used cars and trucks when we left Hamburg. There were also forest machines from Finland that we had loaded in Gothenburg.
Weather deck and the cargo room under main deck were loaded with containers. We also had a space for used cars on the weather deck
After Hamburg we got to Antwerp. Antwerp is a pain in the behind with the long passage up the river. And back then it was hand steering. Of course, I took a chair when I was steering.
- Are you comfortable? Captain asked.
- Yes, very!
- Is there a chair for our Pilot?
Well, our Captain had expected me to stand up while doing the hand steering, but he never said anything
But Antwerp was nice, Johnson had their own general cargo berth in Antwerp, smack in the city and it was just to cross the street and we were at the first bar. Walk over the ramp and 2 minutes' later I was sitting with a beer in front of me.
No need to take taxi, it was just to go down on the jetty and cross the street and we were at the first pub. well, after a few beers we took taxi where ever we wanted to go, even if it was only 100m. Walking is a waste of time when you're in a hurry to the action and good music around the corner. And you can always drink a beer while waiting for the taxi.
I remember the first night when, well, it was early morning when we came back to the ship. We're just arriving and should walk onboard over the stern ramp when a Police car is coming up the ramp and up on the weather deck with the blue light on.
Well, turned out that our Deck Cadet had had a few too many beers and he ended up at the hospital. So the Police wanted to have a chat with Captain and I'm sure he appreciated the early morning small talk. But I guess that our deck Cadet will have something to talk about with his grand children.
- When Grandpa was in Antwerp....Blah-Blah...leaving the bar in an Ambulance.....
Yes, a must talk about at any Christmas dinner and family gathering.
I had time to spend one day walking around in the city of Antwerp. It’s a very beautiful city and the weather was gorgeous so I enjoyed myself, and a few beers didn't make things worse.
I like Antwerp, at least back then. I have been back several times, but the city has changed and all the bars and discos around the railway station are gone. Well, never mind, I'm too old for that now. Sometimes anyway.
Next port after Antwerp was Liverpool, last port before South America. But the stevedores were on strike in Liverpool so we had to go to Swansea just South of Liverpool.
Swansea is a nice summer resort so there were plenty places to go if we wanted to let our hair down.
And of course, who wants’ to sit onboard on a nice summer evening and we had our opportunity to go ashore, so we did. There was a pier with pubs and discos, at least this is how I remember it.
There is a school for Custom Officers somewhere around Swansea. So they sent a whole bus full of those students for searching our ship. But they had got it all wrong, they thought we came back from Colombia. Anyway, the found a bag of white powder, a kilo or 2 under one bed. All of them started to scream and laugh and they were very happy. They thought they had found a couple of kilos of cocaine.
- YIPPEE!!! We found drugs!
- Yippee ay ay Motherf@ckers!! That's detergent
Big disappointment and they disappeared with their tails between their legs, missed by no one.
It was about 10 days from Swansea to St. Lucia. Back then there was no GPS and as soon as we had left Europe the Decca navigation system disappeared. We got a satellite position one or twice per day. But the guys on the bridge managed to find the small island among many other islands in the Caribbean.
So one morning when I woke up we had dropped anchor outside St Lucia waiting to get alongside.
We were discharging at Grande Cul De Sac Bay close to the capital. HESS oil has a big oil terminal on the island were they store crude oil. There was a very small concrete jetty were we laid our ramp and discharged the 2 machines for their new power plant. The first RORO ship in this size that had ever arrived to this jetty.
a country in the Caribbean, one of the Windward Islands; pop. 133,310 (1991); languages, English (official), French Creole; capital, Castries.
First encountered by Europeans around 1500, St Lucia was settled by both French and British in the 17th century. Possession of the island was long disputed until France ceded it to Britain in 1814. Since 1979 it has been an independent state within the Commonwealth.
I was back 10 years later to discharge banana oil and it looked pretty much the same. But looking at a satellite picture today and it looks totally different, at least from above.
We only stayed for a few hours so there was no time to go ashore, but I didn't miss anything. When I was back 10 years later the capital had nothing to offer. A cruise ship terminal, and they are the same all over the Caribbean. Same t-shirts and same souvenirs, only different names.
And the Ciceron, OK, let me quote internet: “ Ciceron is a populated place in Castries, Saint Lucia” Yes, not even a village and when I was back 10 years later it was pretty much the same, there was 3 chickens and 3 banana trees. Not much to write home about. Well, when we had discharge the machines we left for La Guairá in Venezuela.
I woke up one morning and we were anchored outside La Guairá. OK, if I remember it right it was not more than 1 day from St Lucia to La Guairá. I took a few good morning pictures before I started with the painting.
Painting deck, what a waste of time and money. First loading and discharging and the paint is a goner. This paint is not built to take containers bouncing on deck.
Well, they could waste money on paint but working gloves was another story. I asked Bosun if he had working gloves.
- We only get one pair per voyage.
- What the ??!! I'm sure you will get a nice price from Johnson for best Bosun in the company.
And this guy was something in the Seaman's trade union so you understand why I'm not a member in the trade union. well, now I'm a member in the Norwegian Officers Union. But that's only because it's mandatory.
We came alongside in the morning and I went ashore with our Cadets. Cadets, I don't remember if it was Cadets or Apprentice. Back then we did not have apprentices on Swedish ships. I think this started in the 90s. But I'm not sure. well, anyway, we got ashore in La Guairá and we took a taxi to Caracas. We hired a guy to bring us to Caracas and back.
I had never in my life seen so much scrap cars running on the streets. All the cars looked like they were about to fall apart any second. And of course, Police controls everywhere. But they were only looking for tea money, if they would have been seriously concerned by the safety of the roads they would have banned 9 out of 10 cars from the roads. But that the cars was about to fall apart was nothing a dollar bill or two didn't solve in a jiff.
We had a good time and it was interesting. Walking around the city of Caracas stopping for a few beers. First stop was at a restaurant for dinner and then the rest of the stops were for beer only. Getting tipsy and it was time to return to the ship.
Typical, We wanted to stay for some fun, but the ship was due to leave for Puerto Cabello, Venezuela in the evening so we had to be back onboard.
I had been back to Caracas after this and it was still looking pretty much the same then. For sure, it was not like in Asia, if you left a city for 2 weeks it was impossible to recognise the place when you came back. At least until 1997 when the big crash came and it was the same ol' concrete skeletons standing there year after year.
I don't remember what time of the day we arrived to Puerto Cabello, but as I remembers it they only took us alongside during day light. A good routine, but I guess that’s changed by now.
The more they talk about safety the more short cuts there are to save money. Fatigue and rest hours is nothing no one cares about, only when it comes to talking about safety and we are expected to cheat with our working hours.
Well, anyway, I don't know if I was any happier to see Puerto Cabello in day light. I was not impressed and I decided to stay onboard. And we did not stay there for so long anyway. And I saved some money by staying onboard.
I always thought that we stopped in Cartagena, Colombia after Puerto Cabello. But when I scanned my pictures I saw our apprentices wearing t-shirts from Jamaica in Cartagena, so we must have been off to Kingston, Jamaica before we went to Cartagena.
is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the south-eastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States.
Kingston was founded on 22 July 1692, as a place for refugees and survivors of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. Before the earthquake, Kingston’s functions were purely agricultural. The earthquake survivors set up a refugee camp on the sea front. Approximately two thousand people died due to mosquito-borne diseases.
Initially the refugees lived in a tented camp on Colonel Barry's Hog Crawle. The town did not begin to grow until after the further destruction of Port Royal by the Nick Catania Pirate Fleet's fire in 1703. Surveyor John Goffe drew up a plan for the town based on a grid bounded by North, East, West and Harbour Streets. By 1716 it had become the largest town and the centre of trade for Jamaica. The government sold land to people with the regulation that they purchase no more than the amount of the land that they owned in Port Royal, and only land on the sea front. Gradually wealthy merchants began to move their residences from above their businesses to the farm lands north on the plains of Liguanea.
was a city located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour, in south-eastern Jamaica. Founded in 1518, it was the centre of shipping commerce in the Caribbean Sea during the latter half of the 17th century. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692 and subsequent fires, hurricanes, flooding, epidemics and another earthquake in 1907.
Port Royal was once home to privateers employed to nip at superpower Habsburg Spain's empire when smaller European powers dared not directly make war on Spain. As a port city, it was notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals and was a popular homeport for the English and Dutch sponsored privateers to spend their treasure during the 17th century. When those governments abandoned the practice of issuing letters of marque against the Spanish treasure fleets and possessions in the later 16th century, many privateers turned pirate and used the city as their main base during the heyday of the Caribbean pirates in the 17th century. Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal coming from waters as far away as Madagascar.
After the 1692 disaster, Port Royal's commercial role was steadily taken over by the town (and later, city) of Kingston. Current plans for Port Royal will redevelop the small fishing town into a tourist destination serviced by cruise ships with archaeological findings at the heart of the attractions.
Port Royal provided a safe harbour initially for privateers and subsequently for pirates plying the shipping lanes to and from Spain and Panama. Buccaneers found Port Royal appealing for several reasons. Its proximity to trade routes allowed them easy access to prey, but the most important advantage was the port's proximity to several of the only safe passages or straits giving access to the Spanish Main from the Atlantic. The harbour was large enough to accommodate their ships and provided a place to careen and repair these vessels. It was also ideally situated for launching raids on Spanish settlements. From Port Royal, Henry Morgan attacked Panama, Portobello, and Maracaibo. Roche Brasiliano, John Davis (buccaneer), and Edward Mansveldt (Mansfield) also came to Port Royal.
Since the English lacked sufficient troops to prevent either the Spanish or French from seizing it, the Jamaican governors eventually turned to the pirates to defend the city.
By the 1660s, the city had gained a reputation as the Sodom of the New World where most residents were pirates, cutthroats, or prostitutes. When Charles Leslie wrote his history of Jamaica, he included a description of the pirates of Port Royal:
Wine and women drained their wealth to such a degree that... some of them became reduced to beggary. They have been known to spend 2 or 3,000 pieces of eight in one night; and one gave a strumpet 500 to see her naked. They used to buy a pipe of wine, place it in the street, and oblige everyone that passed to drink.
Port Royal grew to be one of the two largest towns and the most economically important port in the English colonies. At the height of its popularity, the city had one drinking house for every ten residents. In July 1661 alone, forty new licenses were granted to taverns. During a twenty-year period that ended in 1692, nearly 6,500 people lived in Port Royal. In addition to prostitutes and buccaneers, there were four goldsmiths, forty-four tavern keepers, and a variety of artisans and merchants who lived in 200 buildings crammed into 51 acres (21 ha) of real estate. 213 ships visited the seaport in 1688. The city’s wealth was so great that coins were preferred for payment rather than the more common system of bartering goods for services.
Following Henry Morgan’s appointment as lieutenant governor, Port Royal began to change. Pirates were no longer needed to defend the city. The selling of slaves took on greater importance. Upstanding citizens disliked the reputation the city had acquired. In 1687, Jamaica passed anti-piracy laws. Instead of being a safe haven for pirates, Port Royal became noted as their place of execution. Gallows Point welcomed many to their death, including Charles Vane and Calico Jack, who were hanged in 1720. Two years later, forty-one pirates met their death in one month.
We all know the famous rum Captain Morgan. And as you could guess. It is named after the 17th-century Caribbean privateer from Wales, Sir Henry Morgan. The label uses the slogan, "Calling all Captains!"
Although a work of historical fiction, James Michener's The Caribbean details the history, atmosphere and geography of Port Royal accurately.
I remember us anchored waiting for our jetty. We came alongside in Kingston during the evening and as soon as we put down our ramp on the jetty there was plenty stevedores coming onboard, yah man Everyone was smoking.
And it was not tobacco they were smoking. Climbing containers removing lashings with a big joint in their mouth. Well, no accident happened so I guess they were used to it.
We discharged used cars and containers from Europe and I was in the cargo hold keeping an eye on the Stevedores.
They were not effective, most of them were sitting down smoking while one or two of them were removing lashings. And one guy, yeah, this was scary. One guy driving around in a truck so I really had to keep my eyes out for the truck. I had no clue how much this guy had smoked, but he had a joint hanging from his mouth all the time.
Yeah, that would have been an f@cking dream comes through. Be run over by a 5 ton truck with a container.
I was on the 8 to 12 watch and I had asked around about the night life in Kingston while working in the cargo hold.
- F@cking excellent!!
- The best in the world!!
- Not a dull moment in Kingston!
- Sounds great!
I will be ashore at midnight when I'm off my watch. Of course, after hearing all this I was in a hurry to get ashore. So when I was relieved at midnight I went straight over the ramp and ashore.
It took me 20 minutes to walk through the port. Passing warehouses and sheds and not much light around. People laying and sitting around smoking so I made a few stops to ask for the way to the “NIGHT LIFE EXTRAVAGANZA”
Leaving the port behind and I could hear the reggae music. So I walked towards the music I ended up in a shanty town with bars made of corrugated metal with an open side. A jukebox and cold beer is what's needed for a good night out in Kingston. People (of course, stoned senseless) dancing on the streets and Bob on the jukebox. But who am I to complain, I'm just a guest in the country.
I ordered a beer and I was soon enjoying the cold amber while listening to the music. A girl, believe me, she was not beautiful. I almost shat myself when she started to stroke me on my leg.
- Why is there no people coming ashore from your ship.
- Hell, I don't understand that! With all the beautiful women around here.
It was a wee bit embarrassing, I came straight from the cargo hold covered in black dust. So when she strokes my leg the dust mixed with the sweat and turned in to mud. Well, they did not seem to care too much about cleanliness in this part of town. So never mind that I was looking like a Zebra with mud running down my body.
And of course, after 10 bottles of beer I could not care less.
I was back onboard early in the morning and I was on watch at 8 o'clock in the morning. Our Radio Officer had arranged a tour of Kingston in the afternoon. She had arranged a min van for us so we left the ship in the afternoon.
Today it was a different story, a bunch of white people and the people in Kingston was screaming at us.
- Whites go home!!
I had had no problem when I was alone, but when we was a bunch it got too much for them. If we had done like this in Sweden they would have called us Nazis and put us in jail.
Anyway racism was not invented in Europe. I saw some interesting stuff in Kingston, among them a kitchen made out of a wrecked van. I would not have ordered food there even if they gave me money. Otherwise it was pretty much like a small town in England except for the palm trees and the weather.
After Kingston we left for Cartagena, Colombia. We arrived in the evening and we would not get our shore pass until the day after. But what the Yoo, I swapped my watch and I went ashore with a Motorman.
Our Motorman knew a place so we took a taxi and we came back in time to start work again. I don't understand where I got the energy from.
Never mind being up all night long. When I got of my watch at lunch I went ashore with our deck apprentices. We wanted to go see Bocagrande. Obviously a good place for some night life. And we could spend a few hours with day light to see if there were any sights worth seeing.
I don't understand how we found the time for all the fun. But I knew I swapped a lot of my watches and that I didn't had much money when I signed off. Never mind, there are more where they came from.
Day light in Cartagena, not much to see. So we went to a restaurant and then it was beer time. I remember that I was at some disco later on in the evening and I remember what I did, but that will be revealed when I'm 70.
- Hmm, there will be a lot of rubbish to write about when I turn 70.
- Hmm, maybe not. My nephews might read it.
Cartagena, yes, it was fun. But one time is enough and I can't say that I have any wishes to go back. I will not go there for holiday.
After Cartagena, I'm not sure if we left for Christóbal, Panama or Santa Marta, Colombia. But I think we left for Christóbal, Panama. Christóbal is the port at the Panama Canal on the Atlantic side.
Of course, we went ashore and we went to a few places. I was in the bathroom and there was an American soldier from the base in Christóbal.
This was back when they warned white people not to be on town. Panama and US were not the best of friends so white people was better off staying indoors. Warnings were broadcasted on the radio and TV. I t sounded like it was pretty serious.
- We cannot guarantee your safety!!!
- F@ck that! I don't want to sit onboard.
Well, anyway, this soldier was running for the Police and when the Police came back he pulled his gun and pointed it to my forehead. I showed him my post card and he f@cked off out of there.
We continued to a disco or whatever they called it. as mentioned before, coming back to South America and the place look pretty much the same as 10 years ago. A few new houses, not at all as coming back to any Asian city. New houses and developments. Yes, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are not easy to recognise today. well, anyway, I was back in Christóbal 20 years later.
Big changes, for the worse. In 1989 I thought it would be impossible for th place to deterioration into a worse slum. But I was proven wrong. 2007 and the place was even worse, the whole city was just terrible. The same bars as 1989, and yes, the same furniture’s. Anyway, it was nice to leave Christóbal for Puerto Limón, Costa Rica.
At arrival we had to drop anchor. I was on watch on poop deck for pirates and thief's trying to climb up on our stern ramp. Nothing happened during my watch but on the next watch there was a guy trying to climb onboard. I think we stayed for 1 or 2 days at the anchorage. The next day we took a speed boat ashore for a good time and a few beers.
We went to some lagoon or what they call it with a waterfall and then we walked around drinking beer. I lost my camera here as well. OK, it got stolen. The guy grabbed my bag, Bought in Colombia and obviously of good quality. He grabbed the bag and he ran away, I was hanging on to the bag kicking after his legs trying to get him on the ground. I was skidding after him on the dust road like I was waterskiing after him. So I was not in a good mood when I returned to the ship.
Well, my bag slide of my arms and the Motherf@cker got away. I spent the day after at the Police station trying to get a Police report, well, all for nothing.
So no more pictures and we have to try to survive my pictures from onboard before the Costa Rica incident.
After Costa Rica we went to, well, I don't remember if we went to Puerto Santo Tomás in Guatemala or to Puerto Cortés in Honduras first. I think it was Guatemala first.
I was ashore looking for Ritalina, they say that it's good for your diet. But I didn't found any and there wasn't very much to see in the town or village. It was a poor village and it did not made my feel any better. Pretty boring and only one drug store so I returned to the ship after a while.
Puerto Cortés in Honduras is a big port for bananas. We stayed just 5-10 minutes’ walk from the town. I took a walk to the town in the afternoon and I returned in time for my watch in the afternoon. I was on the 4 to 8 watch now. I think I had to change because we had one AB falling of a container in, I think it was in Colombia.
Well, anyway, when I walked to town I passed two girls on bicycles.
Something of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Of course, this was the only two beautiful girls I saw that day. When I returned onboard I saw the two girls on deck looking for a boyfriend. Well, I had to work.
After my watch we went ashore again and we ended up on Bremerhaven bar or whatever they called it, today the name is most likely changed to Manila or Russian bar or something exciting like that. Well, I had one beer before returning onboard, it was a very sad place.
I remember that I started to like avocado on Nordic Stream. We got Avocados in the size of footballs, the biggest Avocado I had seen before that was like a tennis ball. Not worth the trouble to cut it for just spoon full, yes, it's coming with a wee bit of job to prepare an Avocado so why bother for just a spoon full? But this Avocados, Jesus, that was something and I have loved avocado ever since.
I was on watch with 2nd Officer from Stockholm, but I think he lived in Rio De Janeiro. He told me how he started to work at sea. He had won the lottery so he took a trip to Australia, party and he was soon out of money and means to go back home to Sweden. Hmm, where do I recognise this from?
Well, anyway, he went to the embassy and back then they sent them home on Swedish ships. So they had to work their way back home. A good idea, but now there is no Swedish ships around anymore.
Our last port before returning to Europe was Santa Marta in Columbia. The port of Santa Marta was full of speed boats and yacht that had been confiscated by the police. The owners had used them for smuggling cocaine. So the Police was for a look out for cocaine smugglers, well, of course if you could pay them off they were quick to look the other way.
We went out to a beach, I don't remember the name, but it was a nice beach and they said that this was the place to be seen on if you belonged to the jet set. I didn't see any jet set and we returned to the ship in time for my watch at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
I went ashore and bought a few souvenirs the day after and now it was the second time I got a gun pointed at me on this trip. Well, this time it was several machine guns. I was walking down an alley when I van pulled up next to me. The door slide open and several Polices or soldiers were pointing their machine guns at me.
- Hablar bablar?
- Bablar hablar?
They spoke f@ck all English and they were soon disappeared
We made a stop in Rotterdam and I went to the Botlek store and bought a new camera. We loaded and discharged and we left for Gothenburg, Sweden after a few hours. My school had already begun so I had to catch up. Yes, this is my third year and we remember that I managed to do f@ck all on my second year. So there is plenty studies to do if I want to finish school.
I signed off in Gothenburg 14th of September 1989 and I had to go back to my nautical college and I was late for the autumn semester as usually. I think it was on the trip after I had signed off she had a collision with a ferry South of Helgoland in Germany when on the way to Hamburg
Back in Gothenburg and I joined the Maritime Academy again.
Wednesday 22nd of September 2010 and we were on our way from Grangemouth to Gothenburg with FO on M/T Ek-Star. I received an e-mail from a guy that turned out to be the Engine Apprentice on Nordic Stream on our trip back in 1989.
So, thanks' to the Engine Apprentice we get to see pictures from Pt. Limón, Costa Rica
Gissa om att jag blev förvånad när jag fick träff på din site efter en googling på Nordic Stream.
Jag var med på samma resa som dig som motorelev.
Är tom med på ett par av bilderna :-)
Kul som f*n att läsa om resan igen. Jag minns mycket av det du skriver men även blev några "luckor" ifyllda.
Jag har bilder från resan som jag skulle kunna scanna in och maila dig.
Jag minns när du belv rånad.. Jag var med. Jag minns att du behövde växla pengar men killen som skulle hjälpa oss lurade oss bort från upplysta gator..
Dagen efter på polisstationen kommer jag heller aldrig att glömma. Pärmen med massa förbrytare och cellerna med jordstampat golv.
Har för mig att killen som rånade dig hade grå starr på ett öga. :-)
This one was a guess work, but thanks’ to my extensive experience from the Caribbean I could figure out to a 99% certainty that this is St Lucia with Hess Oil Terminal on the right hand side.
Thank's to our Engine Apprentice for pictures!
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