Wednesday, 19 August 1992

Work experience

As I had finished and graduated from my Officer's Class in 1991 it was again to go all out to shipping Companies to try for a job. Bore Line could not offer me a position as they had sold a couple of their ships and had more people on their lists than they cared to have. 

So I turned to the trusted Seaman's Service (MEPA) calendar (now discontinued as every union started printing their own calendar) and opened up the pages of all Shipping Companies in Finland and heir contact numbers. As it was still lean times in Finnish shipping I had again some trouble finding a job as the HR guys wanted young guys with 30yrs experience. 

At last I got a job from an outfit in Helsinki called Pipping & Co. as 1st Officer. They had once been the pioneers in small tonnage coasters in Finland but had been sidelined by Rederi Engship & Hans Langh, I suppose as a result of their wheeling and dealing as I heard later from the grapevine. Anyway, the ships name was m/s Bona Fe and it was a 1972 Dutch built general cargo ship that could load 2815 DWT. She was 70m long and had 2 hatches but no deck machinery in way of cranes or booms. The Company had one more ship called Marika and it got the dubious reputation of once passing by a pilot station without anyone on bridge.

Bona Fe at sea (photographer unknown, source: Facebook)

I signed on in Raahe, thats way up north in Finland, a major port exporting steel, in maritime circles called "the arse of Finland", I agree but there is another strong contender that is Koverhar down south, they also export steel. Both ports are depressing grey factories with smelters and all that jazz attached. We loaded steel for Goole, UK.

Steel cargoes were easy to load and unload, especially steelcoils, but during winters they were hard to secure and even more dangerous if they got loose in heavy weather. usually the securing were done by us the crew as we had no allowance for stevedores, usually we used 2x4", 6x6" & 4x4" timbers and nails as well as chains to lock the cargo down. The ship rolled in bad weather with <10s 30-="" 30deg="" a="" anything="" during="" fly="" from="" intervals="" list="" loose="" nbsp="" north="" not="" p="" place="" pleasant="" port="" sea="" so="" starboard="" the="" was="" wintermonths.="" would="">
With Bona Fe I became familiar with many small and big ports in Europe, we went for many Danish ports (Copenhagen, Vejle, Fredericia), Norway (Aaheim, Sauda), Belgium (Antwerp), Spain (Bilbao) Portugal (Aveiro), UK (Goole, Grimsby, Immingham, Fowey), Ireland (Cork, Greenore), Holland (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Vlissingen), Sweden (Kappelshamn), Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Kiel), Poland (Gdansk, Gdynia), Russia (Vyborg) and probably most coastal ports in Finland. 

After doing 1.5 years on/off on 6 weeks relieving turns I left Bona Fe in 1992 to join a bigger ship with a bigger salary to go further away so I joined up on m/s Atlanta Forest.

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