"Cape Moss" passenger number 1
It seems to me that hard work does pay off
In some situations I find that smart work pays off too. In fact once in a while no work pays off. But that simply isn't very reliable ;) I suppose a combination between hard work and smart work is the best. At least for me.
When I left you last week I already had a plan. Next step was to make the arrangements in order to have that plan come true. Most of it was purely administrative. Telling people what to do, sending emails, making phone calls, replying to emails, replying to more emails...
Solitaire is a game where you need to think about your next move. I like it!
Then something happened! Maersk is a Danish company which I have known all my life. They are globally the largest shipping company in the world measured by containerized shipments. I started noticing their containers from the very beginning of the Saga. There was one in Denmark before crossed the border to Germany. I then noticed one in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium...and then it just kind of became a game. To make a long story short that ended up in an interview which was featured on Maersk's intranet for its 89,000 employees to see and read! It was a good interview which was well received. So Maersk made the decision to post it publicly on their webpage for everyone to see. So here you go:
About the same time as the article appeared on the intranet, I received an email confirming that I was welcome onboard "City of Xiamen" from the Seychelles to Mauritius. That's a fairly interesting voyage which goes up past Somalia to Oman and then back down to Mauritius. It should take around 10 days and I'm looking forward to it.
Andry from Le Express did a great piece on the Saga: http://www.lexpressmada.com/blog/magazine/carnet-de-voyage-torbjorn-c-pedersen-raconte-once-upon-a-saga/
Now, was it a coincidence that my request to come onboard was granted around the time as the article went online on the worlds largest shipping company's intranet? It probably was a coincidence. Maersk is not the owner of "City of Xiamen"...but it is time chartered by Maersk...sooo? The world works in mysterious ways ;)
In either case it's not super important. What was important to me was that the first 2 containerships out of 3 had fallen into place already. And with that my extravagant plan was falling into place as well. Come on baby...give me that 3rd ship and let's make this a success!!! :)
The days slowly approached the date where "Cape Moss" was due to arrive to Tamatave. "Cape Moss" was the containership which was going to get me to the Seychelles from Madagascar. For whatever odd reason the office manager for MSC (worlds second largest shipping company) in Antananarivo had told me that it is against the law to leave Madagascar by boat? It was probably his way of saying that I couldn't get onboard one of MSC's ships leaving Madagascar. That information, however, stuck with me. Why would it be against the law? Could it possibly be true? What would I do then?
Colombia Shipmanagement (CSM) to the rescue!! https://www.columbia-shipmanagement.com Yes! CSM invited me onboard the "Cape Moss" and ended that myth. Myth busted! Since the "Cape Moss" is also a ship which is time chartered by Maersk I figured Maersk might be the agents for the ship. So I went to the local Maersk office in Tamatave near my hotel. It turned out that Maersk wasn't the agent, but I got something else out of my visit. Because of the intranet article everyone at the office knew my face and who I was. A bit strange I might add...because I've been visiting Red Cross offices in over half the world and nobody knows who I am :)
The market in Tamatave is a great place to visit.
After a lot of handshakes and a few photos I left the office and returned to my low cost hotel. During the evening my phone rang and Jaouad presented himself as someone I had met at the Maersk office. He then proceeded to ask if all was well? If I was happy with my stay in Tamatave? If I was happy with my hotel, the food and if there was anything he could do for meeting?
In reply I answered that I was happy with my situation, but that we could meet for coffee the next day if he wanted to? The next day Jaouad invited me for dinner at a nice restaurant where I met his beautiful wife Bouchra and 1 year old daughter Insaf. We had a great time. The next day continued like that. Jaouad and I had breakfast in the morning as he was going to help me with some problems I had with the internet. Then since it was Sunday we joined his family at the beach.
In the evening Jaouad wanted to show me a place for good burgers so we met up again. Then we agreed that it might be fun for the staff if I came and told them about the project - so the next day I did.
At Maersk a few of the things that came up were: "long term planing" and "commitment".
I had a 14 day visa for Madagascar which eventually expired. I had thought I would be able to leave sooner. But it didn't turn out like that and I had to spend a lot of time with the very bureaucratic immigration. They were nice enough, but it was a long and slow process to get an extension. It boggled my mind as the visa I got at my entry took little more than 5 minutes? But eventually it all worked out: The "Cape Moss" arrived and I climbed onboard.
I had forgotten how big ships can be. I haven't been near a sizable ship for a while. The "Aziza" from Tanzania to Comoros was quite small. So was the "Mojangaya" to Madagascar. Prior to that I was on a few minor ships getting to and from São Tomé in Central Africa...so it's really been a while! The "Cape Moss" is the 7th containership I have boarded since the Saga begun. She is 212.6 meters long and can carry 2,800 20 foot containers!! So she's really not THAT big as ships go...but she's still a sizable lady ;)
This is just a corner of my huge office. Behind the door is my bedroom and bathroom. Also quite space!
I was greeted with respect as I climbed onboard and everything has been really easy since then! I was shown to my cabin which happens to be "the owners" cabin. It's huge!! Its on "E deck" along with the captains accommodation and the chief engineer. The only thing above "E-deck" is the bridge. So it's pretty classy!! I think most of you know that the captain (Avtandil Zoidze) is the "top dog" on the ship. The master and commander. On the "Cape Moss" he has 3 officers to steer the ship for him and the captain is therefore mostly bound to administrative tasks and general responsibility. The officers rank from chief officer to 2nd officer to 3rd officer.
Almost equal in status to the captain is the chief engineer. He also has 3 officers: 1st, 2nd and 3rd engineer. I have been dining in the officers mess where I sat at the table between the captain and the chief engineer. Both great guys and pretty much the highest honor I could have onboard. Food was served 3 times a day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are snacks, fruits and beverages available in between meals. There's the crews recreation room, where I was welcome to sit and watch movies or sing karaoke or whatever I was in the mood for. On the main deck I could use the gym, which I actually did. So now I can say I've been running for 25 minutes on the Indian Ocean :)
Up on the bridge.
The "Cape Moss" is a beautiful and well kept ship, which was built in China only 5 years ago. So she is young as well. There is a very good atmosphere onboard which comes from having a good crew combined with good leadership. I've really enjoyed my time onboard. This ship did not have wifi available for the crew. So I have been disconnected for a few days which is always nice... And I've had the opportunity to sit and complete some work in my enormous onboard office. That's excellent and I feel up to date on a lot of things.
Something magical happened that day we left Tamatave. I had been told that it was the right time of the year to see whales. But this was ridiculous!! As we left the port around 3pm we set our direction towards the horizon and whales started appearing on both sides of us. You know the classical "tail whip"? I saw that 10...20...30 times? There was a whale which was sort of rolling around quite near the ship and then there was my favorite! I saw a whale fully jump out of the water, turn 180 degrees in the air and crash back into the ocean! Gold!! :)
Sorry, no whale photos. I got too occupied with enjoying the moment :)
A modern ship like this one produces its own water from the ocean (desalination). So there's plenty of it!! And it's heated without extra cost by the enormous engines which push the ship forward, so it's really the place to be of you want to enjoy long warm showers without feeling guilty ;)
I miss my girlfriend. I don't suppose, I'll ever get to share a unique experience like being treated like an officer, onboard a large modern containership, with her? And furthermore approaching a paradise island, which women are ready to fight to the death to get to :) Other than her being halfway around the world I would say that the situation is quite optimal this time. I won't be spending any time looking for a ship and making arrangements. That has all been taken care of from Madagascar before I left. So I'll simply meet with the Red Cross and then see where life takes me this time ;)
The "City of Xiamen" is due on Thursday 28th and should depart (with me onboard) on Saturday 30th. Knock on wood!! ;)
My gratitude to Colombia Shipmanagement and the entire crew of "Cape Moss" for taking part in the Saga and bringing us one country closer to making world history a reality. It's deeply appreciated!
Fair winds and following seas to all! :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - rich in experience
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga