Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Life takes a turn...

As I was enjoying my rotational leave from Ventum Maris in South Africa I got a mail asking if I would be interested in joining a commercial venture with world wide itinerary. My interest was immediately peaked so I said "yes but that I was in a contract so needed some notice" in case we would come to an agreement. 

RMS St Helena watersalute
Photographer: unknown

After a few exchanged emails it turned out that the vessel in question was the ex RMS St Helena that had most of her life been trading between the Island of St Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, Cape Town and UK. She had been owned by the Gov't of St Helena with Andrew Weir and Bibby doing the day to day operational management and manning. 

RMS St Helena discharging cargo in St Helena
Photographer: unknown

After completion of the airport on St Helena Island it was deemed that the vessel was superfluous after nearly 30 years of service (she was also pretty knackered by then as well) and she was then in 2017 sold to a security company that subsequently renamed her MNG Tahiti and also changed her class and flag to something less illustrious from LR and MCA. The Owners positioned her in the Middle East as a floating armory. Apparently this did not work out very well financially for the new Owners as she was put on the market almost immediately and a year or so later she changed hands again, this time to British interests.

St Helena in Birkenhead

Then in 2018 she was brought from Dubai to UK and moored in Portland where some cosmetic works were carried out and she was then displayed in London next to HMS Belfast for promoting her future.  Also her St Kitts and Nevis Flag was discarded and the British red ensign was flown as well as Class was changed back to LR. After this she went to Liverpool and is undergoing major overhaul and refit of machinery, structure and interior spaces in preparation for her 30 year special survey. 

St Helena in Birkenhead

After few days of deep thinking I thought to myself that these kind of proposals only comes a few times in your life so I had my chance here now and told Wilson that I'm accepting the job offer. Few days onward I had a contract and I tendered my resignation to Camper & Nicholson's from Ventum Maris. It is a bit sad as I had only been a short time on her and thoroughly liked my time onboard but I guess it was my time to be a bit selfish.

St Helena in Birkenhead

Fast forward a few weeks again I was on the airport in Nice on a flight to Manchester where I was picked up by the DPA and brought onboard. The previous Master had left some time ago and only the Ch Mate was holding up the fort so it was a clean slate to start from. Well, time will tell how this goes but there definitely is a lot to be done to this lady before she is setting sail again.

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Friday, 14 June 2019

New adventures

After I left Illusion + having been properly disillusioned by the Owners and zero progress in just about everything I resigned, handed over to my Chief Officer and went R&R to South Africa for a few weeks to clear my head. 

Ventum Maris in Valencia

I then returned to Tarragona to pick up my luggage from Wanderlust and took the train back to my hobbit hole in Italy. Actually crossing 2 borders is pretty painless in EU, there were no checks whatsoever except the only snag is you gotta change trains, at least on the smaller lines. The timetables did not go very well together so I also had to spend the night in Barcelona and Nice so if you are in a hurry - take the plane. After having settled down and unpacked I enjoyed hiking the Ligurian mountains and watching summer coming on whilst looking for new challenges. 

I also did some travel around Firenze and Rome whilst renewing my travel document as well as visited Civitavecchia, nice marina over there. 

One morning I was checking train tables and decided on a spur of the moment it is a good time to go to Greece as my dentist had called me for a checkup so took the overnight train to Bari. The train was most uncomfortable, next time I'll take a sleeper. I had the good luck to meet with a former colleague and he showed me around Bari and treated me to a wonderful lunch before boarding the afternoon ferry to Patras. 

In Greece I met another colleague and stayed with him a few days after which I took the bus to Peloponnese to go hiking. In Tyros I did five days heavy trekking up and down the local mountains, with my friend Wendy, was actually very lucky with the weather. Then I had some matters to take car of in Athens and packed up and took the bus to the Big Eggplant. After failing to resolve my business I then once again took the journey to Patras but this time took the ferry to Ancona as I could not bear the idea of the overnight train. Arriving Patras it was too late to get a ticket all the way so I managed to get one to Milano where I stayed the night before continuing to my destination.

Only a week went by and once again I had to get going and this time to Finland to upgrade my qualifications, it was time to do the polar ice navigation course. At same time I managed to meet my parents and sister for some family time. Time went by quickly and summer was coming on so I had to fly back to the Riviera.

Mid of May I was invited to Burgess office in Monaco and to discuss a possible job. I went and met with my previous yacht manager, Mr Jiyu and he explained the situation is very confidential so can't really disclose anything but would I be interested as the previous Capt had resigned? Yes of course I would and that was about it, meeting finished and I was out on the street again. As I was walking along the street I met with my previous Ch Off who was captaining Illusion Plus now, the world is small. I asked him of latest news but the reply was that nothing had changed except the management. He was in a hurry so I wished him good luck and headed for the train station.

End of May I was again on traveling foot, this time to Malta to attend the wedding of 2 friends, Leanne & Jono, it was a lively weekend where I also met old colleagues but was happy to return back to Liguria to rest & enjoy the nature.

Eventually in the beginning of June I was invited to visit a yacht in Valencia, m/y Ventum Maris. They had Burgess management but due to change to Camper & Nicholsons as per Owners request and needed a rotational skipper for the summer. 

Ventum Maris at anchor

For a 10 year old lady she is quite well preserved with a peculiar interior design, very close layout as in Lady S (both are Amels builds) and simple functionality. The only thing I dislike is the low freeboard tenderbays making it hard to recover the boats in rough seas, the boats will just get smashed against the crane booms. Oh well just another thing to learn to live with. Propulsion was same, twin fixed props astern and a good sized bowthruster, the rudder was not independent so there is no "toe in"maneuver mode as I had in Lady S. Anyway propulsion is a minor thing in the grander scheme so I accepted and was due to sign on in Palma by mid June. Great, new adventures ahead.

After a few days after the initial visit I had my flight tickets sorted and some days later I was on my way and signed on in Palma, Port Adriano. The next day was handover of management as well as Captains and the day after I was on my way to Ibiza. The 1st maneuver was exciting as there was not much space but I quickly picked up the characteristics and got her out of port without any hassle as well as into it. Then it was only time ot wait for the guests to board...

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Joining again

Recently I was staying at my friends pad in Liguria, up in a medieval village of Montalto Ligure as I was doing rounds to the Riviera for various contacts looking for my next challenge. That aside my month was slowly coming to an end and one afternoon I was at the pad when I received an email out of the blue from China.

The mail was asking if I could send an updated CV and a valid phone number and a time when I could talk. Said and done I sent the info they requested and five minutes later the phone rang. There was a Chinese gentleman asking if I was available and some other data, we talked for a few minutes and then he asked if I have ever heard of Burgess. Yes of course I had heard, one of the top yacht management companies out here. There was not much more and he said they would be in touch and hung up.

Subsequently I called Burgess asking if they knew anything about a yacht in China as I had read of yachts being built but that was ages ago. Slowly the story unfolded that this indeed was the project I had read about years ago in industry publications.

Then a few days went by and Burgess called me up if I was available on a Skype interview the next day. Yes I was, nothing much else going on in this sleepy village. Next day came and I was standing by the window where was the best signal and waited for the Skype session to start. Then I was being informed that the Chinese yard would also pitch in the interview so that was bit of a surprise.

The interview went well in my own opinion except I was so intent in deciphering their accent so I totally forgot my face expressions and to the end I was asked if I ever smile. Thing to take note of in the future.

Some days went by again and I learned that I was runner up among 3 candidates and that I probably had the best chances of being the chose one. Well that was good news but seeing is believing. Again some time passed and finally I was offered the job to a quite mediocre rate, I decided to accept it as "better some job than no job". The mandate seemed short anyway so it looked more like a temp job than fulltime role. I was told to go to China, commission her for traffic and sail her to be displayed in Monaco yacht show for sale.

Then I flew from Italy to Greece to collect some items and subsequently I flew to Finland to apply visa as one can only apply a visa to China in the country of origin or residency. I was not resident in Greece. Spent a good week in Finland before I could collect the visa and managed to say hello to my family. Then again I flew back to Athens to prepare my luggage for the voyage and I was also informed that my Chief Stewardess will join me on the flight from Muenchen to Beijing and then Yantai.

Then came 12th June and I was on the way. Taxis were conveniently on strike in Athens so I had to manage my luggage by car to the metro line in order to get to Eleftherios Venizelos airport. Check-in and security went relatively smoothly despite it being high season and I was waiting to board my 1st leg to Muenchen.

In Muenchen I met with my Chief Stewardess Leanne, who had come from Malta, and we waited for boarding and dreaded the long-haul flight ahead of us. Incidentally I already knew her from before as I had been introduced to her at Palma yacht show earlier in the year.

Fast forward 12hrs we were landing in Beijing, collecting our luggage and going through the Chinese arrival formalities. Our body temperatures were measured as we ambled along towards Immigration and Customs. Then we had to check in our luggage again and were informed we can only check in 20kg when we had arrived with 40kg seafarers tickets. No point in arguing, they ignored us and said I could take the cabin sized luggage (full with DSLR camera lenses) with me and we would be ok. Said and done so we headed for the security and boy was that fun, had to empty basically everything in the bag in order to pass. At least we were on time to get to our last flight, Beijing -Yantai.

Flight left somewhat on time and 2hrs later we landed in Yantai, Shandong province. Our pickup was there and anticipating that after a solid 24hrs being on the road we would be taken to the hotel first to freshen up, but no, straight to the yard we went. In the yard we were faced again with security but luckily we did not have to check any luggage.

Once inside the yard we were driving towards the offices of the yacht division and we saw a yacht in one corner of the port basin that looked to be in the 40-50m bracket. We came a bit closer and saw the name and realised this is the boat but how did it look so small? Then I realized that the humongous crane almost above the yacht as well as the surrounding monstrous oil-rigs just dwarfed her so she looked like a toy-boat. Moreover the color was rust-red and she looked unpainted. Not sure what to make of it so I said nothing.

Yantai 200.000t mega crane and an oil-rig

Once in office we started meeting lot of new faces of the project and started receiving information left and right. In a few hours our brains were fried twice the size as well as we had managed a tour of the yacht with vice GM Roger. The rusty color proved to be a protective coat that would peel off when it was time. Interior was pretty much a-shambles incomplete with dozens of workers milling around.

Yacht alongside

Finally around 6pm we were carted off to Yantai city center some 10km away from the yard. We checked into Asia Hotel downtown. Downstairs in the lobby was an inviting expat bar called Chris bar, I had dinner with Leanne and then we retired to our respective rooms dogtired. My next adventure had begun...
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Hellenic day

This Sunday I decided with a few crew go see some hellenistic sites handpicked from the guide book.

Becin castle

Becin Castle is overlooking the town of Milas, the castle itself has lot of ruins in various states of disrepair and there seemed to be an old shepherds hut on top where you could see that the animals had resided below and the shepherd on top. The castle itself was not really hellenistic and had been occupied by all sorts of groups at different epochs. Only sort of preserved structure giving any clue to its use was the old hammam where some of the plaster remained in the steam room and one could recognize the heating compartment. Otherwise the ruins gave a nice backdrop towards the city of Milas and the fig and pomegranate trees gave a nice atmosphere to walk around the fortifications.


Didyma (Temple of Apollo)

Next on our stop was Didyma in Didim, this was the largest temple of its time dedicated to Apollo but it was never completed. The temple is massive looking at the small people around the pillars and inside where the spring was used to house the oracle. Both the spring was dry and the oracle gone when I visited.

Miletus theatre

After this we still had some time to motor up to Miletus theatre. A massive stadium that could seat 15.000 persons at best. It still had the tunnels and walkways behind for spectators to get to their seats. Simply stunning construction and when it was still in operation it was next to the sea which now had receded far away. The whole area covers several sq kilometres and other buildings and I think one could spend days here exploring the old ruins. 

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Sunday, 24 September 2017


Having settled into the Yalikavak marina we finally had a chance to take a few hours off and I decided to go to Bodrum to see the sights as I had never been there before. According to the guidebook the only places that have any value historically is the Bodrum castle and the Mausollus mausoleum.
Yalikavak marina

Moonlight II in Yalikavak

The city itself is pretty large and the castle is smack in the middle of it. One can straight see the protective capabilities of the fortress in medieval times as there is a bay on each side of it. Entry to the castle was 30TL which gives you access to the whole area. The route has arrows in red and green and it did not make much sense to me but it seemed the red arrows were dead ends. There were a few displays scattered in various spaces but nothing major. Very nice scenery and I got a few nice shots that I will probably post at a later stage but for now you have to make do with these.

Bodrum castle

After having wondered around the fort for some hours we had enough and headed for a coffee and then decided to check out the mausoleum that was supposed to be one the wonders of the world in its time.

Bodrum castle

Entry to the mausoleum was 10TL and all there is a big hole in the ground with the burial chamber and some drainpiping visible as the rest of the mausoleum was apparently used to build the fortress. Lot of rocks were strewn around so it looks mostly like a sad DIY mausoleum now. At least there was a small exhibition center showing how it had looked in its heyday.

Mausollus mausoleum then

Otherwise the whole seaside was littered with restaurants catering for tourists and of course there was the shopping. For anyone having visited Istanbul I can tell you the same wares were peddled here, copy everything. I think the only really good articles are the leather clothes.

Mausollus mausoleum now

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Doing a Ferretti

I received a phonecall about 2 weeks ago asking of I was interested to step in as Capt on a 25m Ferretti as the permanent Captain unfortunately had had a heart attack so I thought it would be ok to help out for a few days and said I was available. 

Local boats

Subsequently I was contacted by the Owners office and had to send my requisite paperwork there as well as to go and show my face in person. Luckily it was almost next to where I live so could walk over. After having done the paper exercise my starting date moved quickly fwd as the program changed so almost next day I was back in the office with my luggage to pick up some CtM and directions. 

Local boats

I hopped on the green metro line and trained down to Piraeus and got a speedboat ticket for Poros and off I went. In Poros I had to take taxi to the owners villa to find the boat. I was met by Filipino staff working on the many boats in the private marina and I was showed around by Ray. The setting was excellent, the boat was seemingly alright, systems were tested and showed how they work. Small boat, small systems, Italian design - what could go wrong?

The Orloff fishermens jetty with Ferretti at the end

Next day was departure day, I had a call with the Engineer servicing the MTU engines for the Ferretti and was given a short instruction of how to start the engines as well as the heads up of the easily overheating sb gearbox that was due for service. Pretty straight forward and they started as they were supposed to. The boat was equipped with bow & stern thruster and a colleague of mine had warned me that as fast as you move in the marina is as much you are going to damage the boat so I took it really slowly and was careful with giving engine kicks ahead. The boat was full GRP so any small kick had her surging ahead immediately. Anyway, I cleared the exit channel without incident and soon enough I was heading for Spetses.

Local water barges laid up

In Spetses our berth was already organised in front of the Orloff restaurant and I let go anchors and moored in the Mediterranean stern-to fashion. I had to keep generators running all the time as the jetty did not have power to offer. There was onboard 2 small gensets in soundproofed boxes and they ran very quietly. Usually they were swapped every 12hrs or so in order to keep running hrs equal and to enable service & checks.

Local boats

It appeared that the program was fairly static, young guests were soon embarking accompanied by their father and he gave me and the son instructions to what to do and off he went. The next few days proved that the guests were more like vampires and kept under deck all day long only to emerge when the night clubs started opening. I remember when I used to be young like that. These days I value daylight much more. Luckily I had one Filipino boy helping me out in housekeeping and other small duties so I only needed to wear the Captains and Chief Engineers hat, he could have the Chief Stewards hat.

Local boats

The boat was working well except that the one genset started smoking and after checking it I discovered the oilsump full with oil mixed with diesel. I also checked all incoming water inlets and filters as well as impeller so it only left me the injectors as fault. I informed the office and they sent a technician within days to confirm the same. This left us with only 1 working generator and I was switching it off every day for a few hours to check oil and water levels are ok whilst the guests were ashore.

Local fisherman mending his nets 

Every evening I had the entertainment of watching all the yachts scrambling to port in search of a berth. Some were very good in finding their spots, others were late, fouled their anchors and blamed the boats around them for their own shortcomings and I and the whole port could refresh their vocabulary on Greek cuss-words. One morning some other boat even caught our anchor chain but luckily it did not disturb our anchor.

The misbehaving generator 

Next I discovered that many of the tank level gauges were pretty much not working at all as I had one day flooding in one of the showers but emptying the tank solved this problem. Luckily the boat even after 10yrs of existence had all the manuals intact and this was a great help especially the Ferretti Owners manual. While I was getting acquainted myself with the boat I discovered the irony that the Master suite bed was located on top of the blackwater tank so in essence the principal slept on a pile of sh*t. Not sure if this was done deliberately during construction or no Engineer/ Naval Architect had ever thought the implications in fung shui fashion of how it would affect the harmonies onboard...  

Fishermen clearing their nets

Every day we were eating with the security detail at Orloff restaurant, it may be a 5 star establishment but I soon lost interest in the menu and the daily Greek food fare. Very delicious but the monotony of it got to me eventually. Then came the day of leaving and the patriarch came himself onboard and said he would take the boat back of which I had no objections as it was his to commandeer. 

Orloff at dusk

During the short crossing back to Poros waters we were back in the private marina and I was checking that everything was ship shape and packed my stuff for leaving the next day, my 10 days was up. As it was Friday I stayed the weekend and relaxed at Poros Image before returning to busy Athens. The next week I had to visit the office again to have lunch with the office manager and I gave my observations during my time onboard for what they could be look at doing next winter service period.

Orloff arranged a table for two

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Lichadonisia islands

Having heard about the Greek Seychelles I decided to go visit. The group of Islands are located on the NW corner of Evia. You can either drive on the mainland to Kamena Vourla and take a ferry over or drive through Evia and boat over. I decided to do it the hard way and drove through Evia to enjoy the scenery instead of the heavily trafficked boring highway (and tollways) up towards Thessaloniki. 


So after having left Athens early morning I arrived at Ag Georgios abt 3.5hrs later having traversed all northern Evia. The village is small and the guest house or hotel (Adamakis Studios) was looking dismal but the room was clean and had a/c, fridge and an ensuite. Only a stone throw away there were several restaurants and continuing towards the center there was more outlets. At a whole everything looked a bit run down like an old prostitute in dire need of a facelift. 

The "new beach"

Next morning we got up and got going for Kavos where at the end of the land is a big camping site (most campervans there looked more or less permanently stationed there) and there were big signs for boats to Lichadonisia. Our 1st day we went to the closest beach on the biggest Island (Monolia) and closest to Evia. The ticket vendor said it was the oldest establishment there (the other was the "new beach"). 

One of the lagoons

Anyway, off we went and there was a small tour around the islets and we were showed a wreck that had sunk at abt 5m depth and also a colony of seals (didn't see any) but they were supposedly there. There were visibly quite a lot of current at places and the coxswain warned us of swimming too far from the beach as the currents could be dangerous. 

The "new beach"

Not to worry, we were quite happy to enjoy the sun on the loungers along with pretty good service from the bar. There was a constant stream of people coming and going and at times PA announcements in Bulgarian/ Russian for what I assume group tours visiting the Island. All in all not a bad place although the limited swimming area due to currents was a bit disappointing, on the other hand one could roam the Island at ones hearts desire and visit the now deserted buildings that used to house the residents up until the 70's when the last ones left. There is no water or power on the Island and the beach organisation ran on portable gensets. Even camping overnight was prohibited.

The "old beach"
 Next day we decided to try out the new beach. This place was visibly fresher looking as it appears it had only been organised a year or so ago. There was knee deep water and one could roam all lagoons in front and back of it. Bottom was soft sand with a few rocks here and there. Service worked well and boats came frequently over from Kamena Vourla. Luckily we came early as shortly after the whole beach was jampacked with people. Personally I liked the new beach better than the 1st original organised beach on Monolia.

The "new beach" on left with surrounding lagoons

Of course the Islands have a place in Greek mythology and it is said to be the pieces of Herakles servant who tried to poison him. 

As the story goes, the hero Herakles won a bride as a battle prize. Her name was Deianira. As she was transported to the mainland by boat the ferryman, a wild centaur named Nessus, attempted to rape her. Herakles was watching from the shore and fired a poison arrow. As the half-man/half-horse lay dying he told Deianira to take some of his blood as a talisman to ensure that Herakles would be always faithful to her. As time passed, Herakles took another woman as his favorite. Deianira remembered what the dying centaur had told her and rubbed some of the centaur’s blood on a cloak which she sent as a ‘gift’ for Herakles with a servant named Lichas. When Herakles put the cloak on, his skin began to burn and he realized that the cloak was poisoned so he threw the servant into the sea. Licha broke into pieces and Poseidon, the sea god, turned him into stones creating the Lichadonisia Islands. (Courtesy from Ruth Kozak's blog)

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Road trip

As I signed off Moonlight II in Nice after the open day event and handover to the other Captain, I decided that instead of flying I'd be going to Greece by land. So I disembarked on a calm day and saw classic yachts at the Beaulieu anchorage.

I was surprised seeing s/s Delphine (built 1921) as she had been, according to some media sources, been laid up somewhere in Tunisia but obviously now had found a new Owner so she was back in the game. She did not look very shipshape up close but classic yachts always need a lot of TLC in order to get up to standard.

Next I saw m/y Nero (built 2007) that is not a very old classic but built in China to this design, she looks the part without the age. 

Well in Nice by taxi I checked the timetables and was disappointed to discover there would be no trains east that evening so I booked a ticket to Milan for the next morning. Next I had to find a room and settled to a cheap and cheerful place next to the trainstation. I walked around town in the evening and could not find any appealing places to eat at so I just bought a ready-made sandwich at a 24h supermarket that then refused to sell me a small bottle of wine as it was after a certain hour. In France? Can you imagine. Did not take me long to walk a few blocks around the trainstation to find a hole-in-the-wall shop that sold me the bottle of wine instead.  

Nice train station

Next morning I was up on time and moseyed over to the trainstation, it is not a big affair so finding my train was piece of cake. Last evening I had bought online a continuation to Ancona so I would have a few hours to walk around Milan. Some hours later the train arrived Milan and everything there was huge. Unfortunately it was a holiday so all shops were mostly closed so I was just window shopping and walking around town like any average tourist.

Milan cathedral

Then it was time to head for the train station again and find my train for Ancona which was no biggie and off we went on time. The Italian countryside is not very interesting, lot of fields and country houses with afew cities in between with various factories visible. Coming to the Aegean coast the line was following it to Ancona sometimes almost in the sea.


Ancona train station was a very worn out affair and I had to walk abt 1km to the hotel I had booked close to the port in old town. I walked past the quarantine castle and along the coast until I arrived the hotel. Very friendly service and I ended up having dinner there. Next morning I got up early and walked around the old town and palazzos discovering all the things worth seeing, Ancona actually has quite a lot to offer for the odd traveller.

Superfast at Ancona

Later in the afternoon it was time to pick up my luggage and get in the port, the boat was a bit late but eventually it arrived and started discharging it's cargo and until it was empty we had t wait on the jetty and it was scorching hot. After some time we were allowed to embark and I found myself a nice sofa to occupy myself on. It was an overnight trip so I had dinner at the a'la carte restaurant and ordered too much of the Greek food but it was vacation time.


After having slept a few hours on a sofa in the buffet we arrived to the port of Igoumenitsa and I disembarked on the huge open field of tarmac, obviously it was thought the port would be a continuation of the highway or a much larger quantity of cargo was envisaged to move through. By the look of things this has not yet happened. I ended walking up to town and found the bus station to get a ticket for Athens as I did not fancy to stay a night here to explore. I was in luck, the K-tel bus left within the hour and soon enough we were on our way. The trip was quite comfortable and the roads were good, I missed the Rio bridge totally (if we even pased over it), I don't know. Some 5hrs later I arrived Athens and made my way for the metro lines.
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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

s/y A

As we had finished our refit in Greece overhauling all machinery on Moonlight II we were fit for fight for a summer of charters and we set our heading for the French riviera. Our next stop was the open day display in Nice. It's a small event organized by ECPY with ML2 as the largest participant where we went in 1st and then the port was filled up with all other participants coming in size wise, kept 3-4 pilots busy for an afternoon.

s/y A

Anyway, as we arrived South of France we anchored off St Laurent du Var to wait for entry into port, provisioning and to clean up the salt from the passage from Greece. Luckily the weather was good so we were not totally encrusted. As we sat at anchor the widely discussed s/y A sailed past us. 

s/y A

She had just been launched in Germany and, as per the media, enjoyed a few weeks under arrest in Gibraltar. Apparently she had been released as she was sailing past in front of us. There has been many opinions of her design and it is not my place like or dislike her. I do think she is a marvel of man-made engineering and would like to see her actually under sail. I hope the design of the vessel is satisfying to her Owner, Mr. Andrey Melnichenko, as it is he who has decided on it. I wish fair winds and happy wakes to her with plenty of water under the keel.

s/y A

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Sunday, 30 April 2017


After having departed Dubai in good order for European summer we had finally arrived Suez, the ditch of decay and depravity in form of bureaucrats descending on you like the proverbial plague in search of bribes and presents. I have had a few unpleasant transits where the rot was so bad I have no words for it.

Some of the old wrecks trafficking these waters

This time I was using as Agents Meesa Egypt and having used them once before I trusted them to come through well again. True enough shortly after letting go at the outer anchorage the officials started coming and it was cigarettes galore left and right, the worst were the health officials that demanded 8 cartons of cigarettes and to sign a paper that no presents or bribes had been given (sic!) on their visit.

Anchoring at outer anchorage

After the first round we we shifted to the inner anchorage & our Agents were allowed to board as per the rules and we started stamping all papers for the various instances. I have always wondered where these papers end up and who ever reads them? I remember in India it was the same and the forms where copies of copies that were next to illegible, it only mattered that the file had the right header and that at the end there was a ships stamp and Captains signature on it. Once this was cleared we disembarked our security detail and then were left in peace. Shortly thereafter we were hailed on the VHF and assigned a number on the next convoy. It was going to be a non-stop transit.


Our transit started on time in the wee-hours and the electricians and linesmen came first and settled in. There was some deliberations of the area they were allowed to use but our Agent soon put an end to it. Of course the customary shop was setup on our aft deck and crew had a look at the trinkets that was on offer to horrendous starting prices. We offered them food and drink as the trip progressed.

Gas carrier

Pilot came last and soon enough we were on the way. The tenderboats were of course hollering for cigarettes & coke and our boys threw them some packets and cans in order not to aggravate them to damage our paint work.


Well on the way we soon enough reached Great Bitter Lake and it didn't take long when we changed pilots midway and we were almost through. Some miles before entering the Mediterranean the Agents took his leave and few minutes after the pilots gave his last instructions out and made his way to the pilot ladder.

Happy guys going home

I must commend both pilots I had did not even ask for a present so I volunteered a carton of cigarettes for their admirable behavior. I think even one of them declined the carton altogether.

Maybe there is hope after all for the Canal personnel & authorities to be cleaning up their act?
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