Reset and rewind: back in Cyprus
Since October 10th 2013: 142 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
This was new for the Saga?!
Even after all these years of going from one country to the next we have stumbled upon something new. Let’s just look at it as positively as we possibly can.
I left Limassol (Cyprus) on November 11th onboard the good ship “MSC Augusta”, which reached Beirut (Lebanon) in the evening on that same day. Immigration did not allow me to disembark the ship so “MSC Augusta” brought me onward to Alexandria in Egypt. In Alexandria I quickly secured a multiple entry visa for Lebanon valid for 3 months. Meanwhile I requested permission to come onboard another containership leaving Port Said (Egypt) heading to Beirut via Limassol. Due to excessive paperwork I did not make it onboard that ship before she left.
Mr. Mohamed Salah ElAgha of Handelsflådens Velfærdsråd (Danish Government Seaman's Service) offered me a cup of tea and printed out the Jyllands Posten (Danish national newspaper) of the day :) www.hfv.dk
I relocated to Cairo (Egypt) which is between Alexandria and Port Said, and hoped to get onboard the next vessel. A week later I actually managed to get onboard the vessel (in Port Said) however after learning from the ships agent in Beirut that immigration was still not willing to allow me to disembark in Lebanon there was no point of bringing me onboard. Therefore I disembarked again and checked into a hotel in Port Said. At this point I requested to board the good ship “Irenes Logos”, which was scheduled to leave Port Said and go straight to Limassol, from where I had formed a new plan. “Irenes Logos” called Port Said a few days late due to bad weather in Beirut, where she was coming from. I think you must have gathered by now that there is plenty of traffic in the Mediterranean between Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt! ;)
My cabin :)
On December 2nd I came onboard “Irenes Logos” and met with Captain Tzintzos Alexandros. Among the crew the Captain is generally referred to as the Master. He had a friendly smile on his face and welcomed me onboard. As it turned out I was his first passenger apart from his wife who’s been traveling with him in the past. Both the Master and the Chief Engineer were Greek, the Chief Officer was Romanian, the 3rd Officer was Ukrainian and basically everyone else was Philippino so you know there was music onboard. There always is when you are dealing with Philippinos :) The good ship was built in Japan back in 1994/1995 and it’s safe to assume that she is well traveled. Her name has been changed twice since her launch. I have recently come to realize that I am only well traveled by certain definitions. In the past 4 years I have reached an accumulative distance of roughly 190,000 km (118,060 mi). That’s a great deal of traveling as it’s more than 4.5 times around our planet or the same as going half way to the moon. I guess that’s nothing compared to most long distance truckers, seafarers, taxi drivers etc. “Irenes Logos” certainly has me beaten by lengths! She possessed her own special charm and became the first ship I have encountered which was built in Japan. A part of that charm included shared toilet and bathroom facilities for everyone onboard apart from the Master and Chief Engineer who get their own. I have never encountered that before but I suppose most container carriers I have ventured onboard were built long after 1994.
Every container ship I've been onboard has made a lot of effort to impact environment as little as possible. It doesn't make it clean but it does help.
The assistant steward introduced himself as “Jerry” and might have been among the happiest people I’ve ever encountered. I checked the crew list and his name is not Jerry...but then my name isn’t technically Thor either. Jerry is always singing or laughing. I believe that’s a very good thing because it boosts the morale onboard. The assistant steward assists the cook and therefore gets to see everyone onboard the ship three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Imagine if he was grumpy... On the same day as I boarded “Irenes Logos” we all learned that she would return to Beirut before reaching Limassol instead of going straight to Cyprus. Adapt and improvise. Later that day a larger ship arrived near us and drew all the attention from dock workers and stevedores. “Irenes Logos” isn’t small with her 194 meters (636 ft) and capacity to carry 1,625 twenty foot containers. However nowadays the largest ships can carry 20,000 or more and measure twice the length. In my experience it’s very rare that the ships cause any delay. It’s almost always external circumstances. With the attention drawn away from “Irenes Logos” cargo operations came to a complete stop. As a result an 8-10 hour operation ended up taking a couple of days and we left for Beirut on December 4th.
Different territories have different regulations for waste disposal into the ocean. These apply to the United States. In the Mediterranean where we were you cannot throw any food waste in the water unless it has been grinded into tiny pieces.
It’s a short trip to Beirut which we reached early the following morning however we had to wait at anchor until we could come along side which caused more delay. As we finally came along side cargo operations began but came to an end as the wind picked up. A small storm hit Beirut and made it impossible for the cranes to operate. December 5th became December 6th, December 7th and December 8th. Then we finally left and after about 10 hours at sea we eventually reached Limassol and I was back in Cyprus. However it was late and I had to wait until the following day before I could disembark. Normally if I leave a destination and return a month later then it’s with progress! E.g. I left Athens (Greece) on August 28th and visited 8 new countries before returning to Athens on October 8th before catching a ship to Cyprus. In the same period I was visited by my fiancée in Moldova, my sister in Turkey and I walked into a cloud of tear gas in Greece. All in all pretty productive! :) However with this round trip from Cyprus to Cyprus there has been nearly no new progress. Sure I’ve made a few new friends and I have met with a few old friends too. However in the grand scheme of things there’s been no geographical progress. I left Cyprus having visited 142 countries without flying and as I returned status quo remained the same. Weird! And yet I would have done nothing differently if you sent me back in time. The elegant and most simple solution to reach Lebanon from Cyprus without flying is by boarding a vessel and going straight between Limassol and Beirut. That’s beautiful logistics. When that failed the most elegant solution became to obtain a visa (although it is unnecessary for me as a Danish citizen) and return to Beirut directly from Egypt. That’s also beautiful logistics. Knowing what I know now I shouldn’t have done it of course...but if you can predict the future then I’d like to hear from you...
Leaving Beirut, Lebanon, for the second time without visiting. You can see the snow on the mountains if you look closely.
I’m grateful to MCL Feeder (www.mclfeeders.com) who invited me onboard “Irenes Logos”. MCL Feeder is chartering the ship from Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement (www.tsakoshellas.gr) who were also kind enough to have me onboard. “Irenes Logos” normally circles around between Limassol, Port Said, Beirut and back which is nominated to take 5 days in total. The distances are relatively short but what can you do when external circumstances interfere...adapt and improvise. So what was life like onboard? Pretty easy for a passenger. Breakfast from 07:00-08:00, lunch from 12:00-13:00 and dinner between 17:00-18:00. No WiFi onboard, no gym, no pool and no sauna. There was however a small basketball court outside (don’t lose the ball) and there were recreational areas inside too. The Master permitted me to send a couple of emails from the ship's computer on the bridge, which is connected by a satellite link. Food was good and plentiful. The crew was kind to me. I did laundry (twice). I finished a book and got started on a new one. I binge watched season 1 of West World and saw about 8 movies. Also I wrote this blog for you. The “Irenes Logos” became my 12th container carrier since the Saga began and just for fun I have compiled this list for you:
1: “Baltic Bright” from Tananger (Norway) to Immingham (UK). 1 day.
2: “Irina Arctica” from Qaqortoq (Greenland) to Nuuk (Greenland). 1 day.
3: “Westerkade” from Reykjavik (Iceland) to Halifax (Canada). 12 days.
4: “Vega Saturn” from Port of Prince (Haiti) to Kingston (Jamaica). 1 day.
5: “Maersk Carolina” from Norfolk (USA) to Bremerhaven (Germany). 16 days.
6: “Clara Maersk” from Praia (Cape Verde) to Bissau (Guinea). 9 days.
7: “Cape Moss” from Tamatave (Madagascar) to Victoria (Seyschelles). 4 days.
8: “City of Xiamen” from Victoria (Seyschelles) to Port Louis (Mauritius). 13 days.
9: “Northern Magnitude” from Port Louis (Mauritius) to Port Elizabeth (South Africa). 15 days.
10: “Gunhilde Maersk” from Port Said (Egypt) to Marsaxlokk (Malta). 3 days.
11: “MSC Augusta“ from Limassol (Cyprus) to Alexandria (Egypt). 3 days.
12: “Irenes Logos” from Port Said (Egypt) to Limassol (Cyprus). 7 days.
This is not photoshop...and yes; it was due to the involvement of a woman :)
That’s 85 days onboard container carriers according to my math skills. And I left home 1,521 days ago so all in all those container carriers have been a tiny albeit vital part of the Saga. And for each of those 12 accounts I am very grateful! Now let’s keep on keeping on!! ;)
There are a few days left of the crowdfunding campaign if you want your chance to support financially. I'm grateful for those who have brought us up to 34%. There's no way we will reach 100% now...that would require some sort of miracle...it is December though...who knows? :) https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/once-upon-a-saga-never-give-up-people#/
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - well traveled.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga