Good evening Sir;
Good afternoon Sir ;
We tried to do the best but did not found the second Tug.Next High tide tomorrow 16:00lt .
A bill of lading is issued by the Master of a merchant ship to signify the true description of the cargo loaded. I wanted to put here in this blog the description of the things I come across on my voyages ( and now ashore)
B : maybe it's you know the speech impaired people
A : oh ! I thought it was meant to be a couple of gay guys.
B : why would they reserve seats for gay guys?
A : I don't know. Maybe because they are french. Plus why do dumb
peole need seats? Why can't they fucking stand quitely in a corner
Like the rest of us?
Which is why it was a bit tragic for me when all my lifes dedication
and efforts were disregarded by aeromexico when they put this thing in
front of me on the Mexico city - Paris connection.
Now the previous post was about Mexican food and heaven knows I have
put enough posts praising mexiccan food, but what I fail to understand
is why a bunch of mexicans would try to feed me French food in a
location from which I could not concievably escape.
Now I do not hate French food. Fat people with food are like mother
Teresa with lepers. We love all food. But like her we understand that
there is simply not enough time to take care of all the food in the
world and we have to decide which food group needs us more.
People have gotten fat on frech food, but he fact is that whenever I
have tried the same, I have found it so exhaustively pretentious that
it burns off all the bloody fat. French dishes are named something
like "mon de rue el carap" which probably translates into something
like "crappy food from the roadside". Something which have been
sucessesfully feeding white tourists for the last fifty years at a
fraction of the cost.
I had thankfully eaten a hearty Mexican meal of something that sounded
distinctly more exotic ( diabla anyone?) before boarding, so I just
prodded around at it to check if it would retaliate and cut a cross
section of it. As you can see in the picture, it didn't make things
Next time if these guys do make me fly with these guys again, I hope
they will be considerate enough to provide parachutes as well as the
sissy life jackets.
I have to admit that safety regulations do help. They tune the mind to some
Zen like state, where you are able to sense danger. For example, when I
looked out of the porthole on the next glorious morning, I immediately
sensed danger as I saw the bosun running back along the deck with what was
evidently an alien object eating his arm right up to his shoulders.
Like all prudent masters, except Nelson and James Cook- who wound up dead at
sea, I immediately swung into action and prayed to god. Then I sat down at
the desk and looked at the phone for the next five minutes. At the end of
that time, as the phone had not rung, it was evident that the alien
infestation had spread among the whole crew, which in an zombie inspired
orgy of blood and trailing entrails, had hacked each other to bits. I felt
deep sympathy for my young valiant mess man as he bravely tried to warn me
on phone as the zombie oiler nibbled on his feet. Rookie mistake. Aliens
always use phone lines to spread and as he would have held the phone to his
ears, the small ant aliens would go into his ears and all that would have
remained of Eddie would have been an agonizingly silent cry of blinding pain
as his brain imploded. I sincerely grieved for Eddie. Or it was equally
possible that nothing of great importance had occurred. Either way, it
didn't look like I would be required to do anything, so I decided that it
was safe to venture out of my cabin.
As it turned out, the light and its refraction through my dual layered
porthole had played tricks on my mind. It was actually a small bosun who had
caught a big Lobster. And as big lobsters go, this was huge. Minus its
antennae, which were longer then it, this chap was about half a meter in
length. Lobsters apparently don't die when you take them out of the water.
But it certainly looks out of sort when placed on a steel platter surrounded
by the ships crew who were excitedly pointing out which part they would eat.
As I looked at its majestic sweep lying on the galley table, Eddie happily
showed me where he would cut along the back to put in the masala and let me
stew. I have honestly not seen such a big lobster in my life. There
definitely can't be too many of this size out there in the world. It seemed
crazy that a bunch of sailors eat this chap in the middle of the sea. The
guy deserved to be in some aquarium looking out at the passing gaggle of
school kids with its unblinking eyes. If this was a couple of hundred years
back, this chap would probably land up on the table of the local ruler to
get his favours. As I looked up, I saw the faces of the Excited crew staring
back at me.
With a deep sigh, mustering up all of my Captains demeanour, I pointed to
the sea creature and declared,
"I want to eat this part."
Another problem with cold fronts, ( apart from the aforementioned basic
problem that they are bloody cold), is that they bring bad weather with
them. The above picture of the houston channel, was the last day of good
weather that we had for the past week and by the time we had dropped anchor
in the Mexican oil fields two days out of Houston, the northerly swell has
started to roll in. It ended up dragging our anchor and forcing us out into
the Gulf of Campeche to fight it out with the sea. I don't think you ever
win with the sea, and we came back battered a couple of days later when she
calmed down a bit.
The problem with the hands on bigger ships like ours, is that we really
are a bit spoilt. So when the sea does get rough enough to make us
uncomfortable, we get really uncomfortable. I had thought that my cabin
furniture was firmly bolted to the deck, but a bout of particularly bad
rolling woke me up to a crash in my day-room in the middle of the night. As
I rushed in there in my boxers, my sofa, which is usually a rather inert
object, hurtled itself from the other end of the room right into my nuts. I
think its for the best that I'm already a dad.
Next morning did see the sea in a better if still disgruntled mood, a
dazed bunch of crew and a rather sheepish sofa.
Vincent explains that he is a freelance pimp. That means that he simply
makes a profit from references, and doesn't need to maintain an exclusive
clientele, or girls or hit around any women. He says that is a very
convenient. Principally because it is very difficult to hit around Mexican
Every company is required to have core policies that guide them in
everything that they do. I have diligently looked through all the policies
onboard and have not come across any policy that requires me to tell pimps
that I cannot let my ship be used as launchpad for boatloads of sex crazed
low cost prostitutes in nations with favourable forex conversion rates. I
have thus maintained silence on this issue. In all honesty, if Vincent ever
does give me a written request, I promise to forward it to the HQ. But in
the meanwhile, Vincent is a friend.
Vincent meets you at the boat jetty and takes you shopping. He haggles with
the cab drivers and the shopkeepers and takes you to quaint eating sea side
joints where he then translates the menu and orders the most awesome sea
food such as shrimps Diabla and the local cocktails such as the "Torito" .
All while describing in most vivid details how he could get you in bed with
women whose current loss of virginity might be actually doubtful. I am not
sure if you have ever shopped or had dinner with a similar topic being
spoken, but it sure beats watching seagulls fight over a fish thrashing
around in its dying throes. Vincent also has stories to match any
situation. You might get into a taxi with him and he would resume his
conversation with, "One time, I was in the taxi with another captain and
three of my friends, ..." and other such stories, too outrageous to be
anything but true. Taxi rides in Mexico are disappointingly short.
If you do ever feel indebted to him for these services and hesitatingly ask,
"Vincent, would you mind of I gave you some money."
Hiding his face behind a set of complicated hand gestures Vincent replies,
"If it makes you happy."
When things make people happy, Vincent becomes very happy.
I am given to understand that these days one of the first question a father
asks of his prospective
seafarer son-in-law, is if he has been to the pirate port of Tortuga. My own
father-in-law ofcourse realised that at this point of time, it was probably
better that he did not know of the fact but being a doctor, couldn't resist
asking me one rather unremarkable evening,
"So how frequently do you guys take a bath on ships?"
Honestly, I have seen very less resistance from people regarding this trend,
but whenever something along this line does get raised, there are four basic
responses that crop up.
1. The info is already out there. The logic is that the feeds are already
out there if we like it or not. So might as well use them for whatever
benefit that we can get out of them. This is like justifying buying fur
because its already there in the store. Let me explain. The people who have
set up the AIS antennae on the shore are in it for the money. They are not
doing it because they want to see their dad sail into the harbour. John from
gCaptain explained the economics of the iphone Apps. His iPhone app for the
AIS (gTrax) sells for about five dollars on iTunes. Plus for every port that
you require a feed to, you need to pay ten dollars every month. Out of all
the revenue generated, about 50 percent goes to the people providing the
feed. Do the maths.
2. The threat is too improbable for any actual danger to ships. In forum
discussions I gave an example of sailing into an US port on a ship named
"Allah Laden" and how that might be targeted by college students with
iphones. Laughable right? Sitting in a US city, it certainly seems so. But
try sailing into the middle east with a ship named " Jesus H Christ" and are
you still that comfortable? You see, this is not something local to US
Coast. This is happening all over the world and personally as a guy who
might be sailing anywhere, it worries me. And the Americans should worry
too. The ISPS regulation was pushed through the IMO by the Americans mainly
as an response to 9/11. So the whole point of a regulation, in which you put
equipment on ships for better monitoring, is lost when you make it available
to the very people you want to keep out. Small boats and yachts are common
sights in US ports. Probably most of contributors of gCaptain have a couple
of boats themselves. If a bunch of Somalians can climb fast moving ships in
the middle of the sea while fighting resistance, there is not much stopping
an Al Quida cell from boarding slow moving LNG tankers in the miles of
inland US waters. Americans should worry. 9/11 was a local incident.
3. Just switch off the AIS. Sounds very simple. Infact, readers from a
non-sea background are probably going to ask at this point, "So if you
switch off the AIS, the transmission stops? Then what was all this bitching
Well its not so simple. Making the master responsible for switching off the
AIS is a very convenient ploy. He is anyway the guy who gets screwed
whenever there's a cock up, so why can't he be the fall guy for this as
well? The AIS is not to be switched off unless the master has good reasons
for switching it off. Who decides these good reasons? Sailing in the
Somalian coast is a very clear example. Even my company orders state that I
should switch off the AIS. But what about Sailing off the Benin, Nigerian
and the west African coast? Statistics prove that there are more piracy
incidents on West coast Africa then off Somalia. They are just low key. Can
I switch it off there? Suppose I'm an Indian Ship coasting Pakistani
waters, or an American ship coasting Iranian waters, then what? If some
incident does happen, the first thing that is going to be said is that the
Captain should have known better. So is the captain now supposed to read the
news daily and make threat assessments, that the whole Obama administration
Take another case. I read the news. Diligently. And I arrive off Houston in
my assumed ship "Allah Laden" a day after the Fort Hood incident. A Muslim
has killed more than a dozen chaps and Obama issues a warning fearing for
reprisal attacks on Muslim targets. Hearing this, I immediately switch off
my AIS. Houston pilots have an intricate AIS system and our good friend
oneeighteen, boards and refuses to take in the ship unless I switch it back
on. What then?
I have been accused of making silly connections, but to me, passing the
onus, on switching off the AIS on the master, seems like an old western
movie, in which the local goons insist that they will shoot in the main
street and people who don't want to get shot can simply sit in their houses.
4. Lets just do it in America. The US is an awesome country. idea's born
here are going to take flight and go everywhere. AIS iphone apps for china
are not far and are probably already out there. There is nothing stopping it
from replicating anywhere. God knows that the Somalian pirates have enough
money to start off a system that they can use within their own network if
they put their mind to it. Give me a couple of million dollars and I will
set up an awesome system that will stream live info to only my core group.
And AIS is not the end. LRIT is just being started. An Antennae off Scotland
could pick up a ship off Somalia and feed it live on the internet. Is
something in place to stop that?
The tragedy of this whole thing is that the people feeding this whole
movement are the shipping fraternity. Joe, who goes online from his mom's
basement when not in college is not the one paying these AIS stations for
live feeds. Its the yatchmen, pilots, tugsters, shipping companies and
seagoing folks who are paying this and jeopardising themselves and their
fellow mates. People are taking any mention of stopping this as invasion of
their personal rights. Guys, this is a new technology and just because there
are no laws against it doesn't make it right. Just because god gave you a
big dick doesn't mean you have to fuck yourself in the arse with it. Another
silly connection, but there it is.
PS: As I am posting this by email, I couldn't put any links to the above. Am
writing this as a reminder to myself & to you if you need me in the future
to give you the links :
01. gTrax's business model
02. IMB's Piracy statistics.
03. Fort Hood incident
04. LRIT details
Receiving emails from ship chandlers of Egypt is as common as getting emails
from widows of rich Nigerian government officials. I am convinced that both
types of emails are true. You only have to go to Nigeria to see that there
is obviously no government official left alive (plus even their President is
in some sort of coma in Saudi). And a visit to Egypt will
resolve any doubts regarding the earnestness of the Egyptian ship Chandlers.
The most recent one I got starts off like this,
"Fm: Winner Supply Co, Egypt
Kind Att: Master
Date: 11th Jan 2010
Good Day Capt, ( Happy New Year )
Wish this day to be a great day for, you, your family, and
all the great crew under your wise command..."
I like this guy already. To everybody out there, if you do visit Egypt,
please take supplies from the Winner Supply Co.
Which is why I like the gulf of Mexico and Carrib region. Its a mellow
region and save for a few hurricanes a year, you would be forgiven to assume
that you were lounging about next to your pool in the backyard on a sunny
day. This trip proved otherwise. The arctic chill, also called "The Canadian
Express" made its way from up north and the temperatures reached record lows
in 27 years. Why they had to wait 27 years only till I reached the port is
something I have yet to figure out. But Water was freezing, decks were
icing, people were slipping, extremities were hurting and there was a lot
and lot of swearing.
It just wasn't Texas week as the Texas Longhorns lost to Alabama in the
finals of College football at Rosebowl at Pasadena. Over the last couple of
years, I've been trying to follow the sport and watching the movies, you
pretty much get the idea what the game is about. This particular game wasn't
so bad, and the 'bama team had to deal with a pretty decent fight-back from
the longhorns in the third quarter. These might just college kids pushing
around each other on a grass field, but they are huge in the US. When you
listen to them giving interviews at the post game celebrations, I was
reminded of Tendulkar when he was hitting Quadir for sixes. There is
something about the raw passionate power of excellence that brings tears in
my eyes at times. Van Gogh paintings, Tendulkar sixes and the broken elbow
of quarterback Cole McGraw.
Those and the cold bloody wind.
Discussing life with kids is always interesting. As a kid, life is
agonisingly slow, unbelieveably clear, enviably unending and yet inevitably
So this kid is getting married at the end of the year. As I absorbed his
vision of how his married life and parenthood would be, I was particularly
struck by a statement of his. He said, " Sir, I love my nephew like my own
(future) son. Tomorrow even if something goes wrong between myself and my
brother, I will still love my nephew like my own son."
Yeah Well. About that...
Leave your child in the middle of the night for half a year and be
surprised to find yourself crying. and then shed those tears for another
Then we'll talk some more.
I hope the new year has brought good tidings to all of you. We were busy
preparing for cargo ops, when a cold front passed over us and the operations
were suspended as the weather turned sour. So the boys had a good couple of
days off, while I spent a restless night as the ship got tossed around a
bit. Ah the trade-offs in life!
Personally the last year went super. If we could have every year like the
last one - minus having babies that is - that would be awesome.