Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav - The sleep depriving giant

Location : US Gulf
It is surprising how Gustav seems to have filled up the whole of Gulf of Mexico. It sure is tough to get any sleep out here when this fellow is stomping all over the place.

Gustav - A determined Cuban

Location : US Gulf
When you look at the cloud cover over the entire Earth, the hurricanes heading towards me seem rather small. Gustav is turning out to be one Determined Cuban on his way to the US. He leaves the Cuban Coast tonight and is forcasted to make Landfall on the Mississippi Delta sometime early on the 1st PM. Since we were pretty much on its way, we are running with all our speed. Lets just hope that the forcasters know what they are talking about. If this Cuban decides to join his cousins in Florida, its going to spoil a lot of dinners out here!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Helicopter landings

Location : The US Gulf

The other day we had a helicopter land on the vessels heli deck. In the US Gulf, since its too cumbersome to send surveyors and charterers rep by launch for the Ship to ship ops, they usually fly them out of New Orleans. As the mothership was actually smaller then us and didn't have a Heli-deck, the chopper came over to us.

A nice change from the ordinary. I had flown in one of these choppers a few years back and it was a wonderful feeling. Please note the small floats on the bottom stands of the chopper. As the pilot then had explained to me, "They make the chopper sink slower in case we ditch this baby."

Gustav & Hanna - The Hurricane map

Location : US Gulf Coast
From where I'm sitting, this is one uncomfortable picture.  The above satellite imagery shows the whole of the US gulf and Atlantic area. The One on tip of Cuba is Gustav and more to the east is Hanna. Hanna is projected to die down a bit to "Tropical Storm" status over the next few days, but Gustav is slated to hit the Louisiana coast on the 1st PM or 2nd PM. Which should make my life uncomfortable sometime late on the 30th.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Freeport and the Baptist church

Location : The US Gulf

when I heard for the first time that we were bound for Freeport, I had wild thoughts of waterskying in the Bahamas. Turns out that there is a Freeport in Texas as well. Its not somethig that really appeals at first glance. Searching for places of intrest only reveals one beach out there over which surf breaks only when hit by a grade three cyclone. which is coming by the way. But unless the high winds start blowing them away, the place is being ruled by huge gangs of Mosquitoes. I read in a Louis Lamour book that mosquitoes in Texas can actually kill a horse. The author might have been thinking of Freeport when he wrote that.

But then this post is not about freeport, but about Religion. With every post I try to learn something new and for this post I am going to read something about the Baptist Church. The reason I'm reading up on the Baptist structure is because of the Seaman's centre that really is one of the best things going for the town. The places is filled with dedicated volunteers and practically everyone on the vessel who had been here before were saying good things about them. Their reputation wasn't let down because Greg drove down in one of their vehiclease to give  us a ride to the neighbouring town which has the mall and the marts.

A bit of research shows that the vehicle was a hard won victory during the city of Freeport meeting of the Nov 2007.

One of the first thing I came to know about greg was that he was a priest in the Baptist church and that priests in the Baptist church are called Pastors. For the past few days I have been doing a bit of reading on the Baptist church and have atleast understood the basics. If you need a crash course in the Baptist church, you must read this page from their site called the " Ten facts you should know about American Baptists" . It seems that the most visible difference between Baptists and the other mainstream churchs are that the Baptist believe that the followers of Christ are commanded to be baptised by being immersed in water in a public display of faith.  No sprinkling of holy water on babies with the Baptists. Infact one cool thing about them in my opinion is that the baptist church doesn't accept you if you are considered too young to fully understand and follow the faith. This sounds neat in theory, as it means that you choose to enter this religion rather then being born into it.

I also came to know that Martin luther King was actually a Baptis Pastor as well. Which puts Greg in great company. I wish him the best and thank him for all the conversation he humored me with. I hope we meet again so that we can have a pint together. Though I forgot to ask him if Pastors are allowed to drink. I don't recall seeing pictures of Mr. King Jr drinking!

Source : Wiki. , American Baptist Church ,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Iron Manolis at Corpus Christi

Location : Freeport , Texas
I came across the Iron Manolis as she was loading her cargo of Grain at Corpus Christi. It is essentially a gearless bulk carrier. What that means is that it is a bulk carrier that doean't have any cranes or davits to handle any cargo. While this would mean that it would be a problem to handle this ship at small ports, if an owner is confident of his ships run, saving money on the cranes can pay out in the longer run.

The Iron Manolis is a new ship with its keel laid out in 2005 and was launched in 2007. One interesting thing I learnt during research for the Iron Manolis was that it belongs to the Kamsarmax class of bulk carriers. It seems that Kamsarmax bulkcarriers are bulkcarriers of about 82000 DWT, and are basically Panamax bulkcarriers with an extended length.

In the picture above, you can see the Iron Manolis at berth. All its seven hatches are closed and you can even see the head lines going from the bow of the vessel. A tug is tied up on the port shoulder, simply because the berth is crappy. This berth was built in the early part of the century and now it is simply too samll for holding big ships like this. So we have a tug tied up to the ship at all times to keep the vessel alongside and to move it along the jetty for the loading arm. In the background is the Grain silo and the loading arms.

It might intrest the kind reader to know that this vessel, owned by Quintana Maritime Limited, is chartered out under time charter for an average daily rate of $24,500 for 2008. I think I could use a couple of ships like that myself.

Source :  Shipping Times.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corpus Christi - A bridge and a ship

Location : Freeport 28 48 N , 095 12 W

I have been twice to Corpus Christi over the past few days and since I have been there a few times before this, Corpus Christi has become one of my most visited cities on the US Coast.

This is the view from the bridge as you go into the city harbor. Right up front is the Corpus Christi Harbor bridge and to the right is the USS Lexington, now a Museum.

The corpus Christi bridge is good going in, because we are loaded and so deep into the water. It is while coming out without cargo, when the clearance height of 138 Feet makes us dismantle our mast so that we can slip under it. A fact that always irritates me as I lose Sat C reception till the time the mast is put up again.

The Construction of the Corpus Christi bridge was started in 1956 and it was inaugurated in 1959. Even now, at 243 feet, this is the second tallest bridge in Texas. Sadly because the yanks are still not happy with it, they are going to break it down and built a bigger bridge that will probably mean that I won't have to put down my mast. Also the move is aimed at Cruise ships and Container ships that have a high freeboard. I rather like this bridge because it reminds me of the Bridge of the Americas in Panama, which was built sometime around the same time.

The USS Lexington had a pretty distinguished career behind it before it was converted into a museum on 15th June 1992. Its a great place to visit with a flight simulator and all. I have seen a number of American warships that are laid up now as Museums, but this was the first time I was able to get on it and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The Lex in nicknamed the blue ghost and at night she is lit up in blue light. The sight is amazing. Sadly at 12.95$ for entry, the place is a bit steep for my taste. More info on the lady lex here.

Also in the picture, between the Bridge and the Lex, is a white building, that is the Texas State Aquarium. And to the left of the Harbor Bridge is the Fine Art Museum.

Well I think you've seen pretty much everything there is to see in Corpus Christi. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Corpus Christi - The sinking ship

Location : The Gulf Of Mexico

Sailing for over a decade, might lull you into thinking that you've pretty much seen everything that there is to see. But the other day when the ship went to Corpus Christi, I came across the above scene, and the first thing to cross my mind was a sympathetic thought for the brother captain of mine who must have been on that ship when it broke into two.

But as it turned out a couple of days later, when I passed that way again, the vessel was floating happily around in its berth, with a huge oil rig strangely impaled on it. As it turned out, the vessel Talisman, is probably one of the handful of vessels built for the express purpose of transporting oil rigs. As per what I was told by the pilot, the vessel doesn't really break into two, but is in fact an submersible vessel that enables the main deck to sink some meters below the water. In the middle of the deck is a huge hole, like a well and it is in this hole over which the oil rig is bought over and placed for the long trip over to its drilling position.

A bit of research shows that the Talisman is a 1993 built vessel classed as a Heavy load carrier and is registered in the Netherland Antilles. A place where I was a lot if you go back on the blog. Also it actually has five more sister ships in operation around the world, built in the same shipyard from 1989 to 1993. Its a neat contraption and the first time I've ever seen something like this. The Pilot explained that the oil rig is being shipped off to Argentina. Well, smooth sailing to you guys!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A recent Sunset

Location : Gulf Of Mexico - 27 39 N, 095 11 W

The last trip to Venezueal was a pity because they tied us up to an platform way off into the sea. But the sun that went down into those waters was beautiful. As it dipped down into the sea, it seemed to leave behind this river of molten clouds in its wake.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunrise at sea

Some days you wake up to the most stunning of sights in the morning that makes everything in the world worthwhile. This picture was though was not a recent one, but from the last ship. I promise myself not to go through old pictures but always fail at that. :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Steaming decks

Location : The Caribbean , 17 49 N 081 05 W

I was going through some old snaps and wanted to show you a picture from one of my previous ship. Sometimes the oil that we carry needs to be heated. When we do this, the deck actually heats up. This night we were at anchor so the deck lights were all lit up and it rained. As the rain stopped, the water on the deck began to steam up.

It sure was an spooky place to be on the deck that night. But ofcourse the ghosts on that ship were really nice folks. Maybe I'll tell you about them some other day.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Statue Ferry ticket

Location - The Caribbean , 14 03 N , 072 46 W
The last few days were busy, but didn't get much snap footage of Venezuela, so might as well fill some space with the statue. I wanted to show you the statue ferry ticket and the brochure on the statue that I picked up at the information centre.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The statue of Liberty

Location : The Caribbean ,  15 08 N , 066 33 E
Though it was fun to see the statue of Liberty from three miles, you do understand that the thrill wore off after two days of anchorage seeing it this way. So once we were tied up, we snuck off early in the morning to have a closer look at Lady liberty Early in the morning, she hadn't put on any make up and you can see the oxidation and the lines running down her face. Well she's been out there a long time so you can't really blame her for looking like that first thing in the morning.

Friday, August 01, 2008

New York - Liberty View

Position : The Atlantic , 26 07 N / 069 58 W
As we came into Newyork, the day had dawned and we saw the statue of Liberty welcoming us as it must have been seen by the millions who came in with the immigration wave of the last century. We dropped anchor about 3 miles from the statue for our first cargo operations and this is the view of the statue from there.