Sunday, 4 September 1994

Atlanta Forest

03.03.1994 - 04.09.1994
M/s Atlanta Forest

As m/s Kent Forest

Then I was off to sail the Oceans again and was glad to get rid of the shore hopping in the Baltic sea. I joined on Atlanta Forest for my 2nd contract.

Once when we were crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool to we got heavy weather and in the end I was feeling like Gulliver on his voyages.

We left on a stormy night from Birkenhead towards Grande Riviere in New Brunswick, Canada. Same night from Liverpool the Chief Engineer reported Captain: one cylinder is showing abnormal heating. Captain asked if he needs to turn back or anchor to see to the problem. C/E said to go on, he was sure the engine would hold. The weather got worse and next day we were out in the Bay of Biscay. 

Chief Engineer reported the cylinder is still heating so he had reduced load on it. captain took decision to go to northern Spain for emergency berth to overhaul engine. Opening this size of ship engine can't be done in rough seas, the cylinder itself weighs several hundred kilos. All said and done Captain called Office and reported what happened. Our Manager in Finland wasn't happy as the ship would go on off-hire due to the engine breakage so he asked the C/E whether it could still be attempted to cross the Atlantic. C/E said it would be possible so Captain relented, cancelled the berth and we altered course west again.

Next day or so C/E had taken all load off the cylinder so it was just riding along but still it was giving headache. This time Captain did not listen to any explanation but decided to go to Azores and get the engine sorted out once and for all. Berth bookings were made and the next day we arrived the Sao Miguel Island and sailed around it until day break when they woke up we contacted the port. The reply was that there is no berth available "Maybe tomorrow". Captain decided that instead of wasting fuel he would anchor in front of the port and wait for the next day.

I was on the forecastle with the Boatswain and Captain was navigating. It was not much use as our chart showed the Island as the size of a dollar coin so one could not make much of it. Soon I got the order to let go anchor. We let it go, the anchor hit the bottom and were further ordered to pay out 7 schackles of chain. Said and done we did so and then we closed the brake and secured the anchor. Everything was looking ok so we reported to the bridge and left the forecastle. As we were climbing down the ladder we heard a noise as the anchor stoppers flew around the forecastle and smoke came out of the brake as the chain was pulled out by force. 

We hurried back on the forecastle and tried heaving up the anchor. The winch would not budge. We tried to help with the other winch, nothing happened. We got a few meters up when the bow went down with the swell but lost equally when the bow heaved up on the swell. There was no other options left but to join the anchor club. At same time a Smit Lloyd salvage ship had appeared at the scene, she was probably based at the Azores and was keeping a watch for anyone that might need assistance, of course to the LOF95 terms...

Captain ordered the cutting of the chain and 1st Engineer came with the torch. Boatswain had attached several meters of rope to an empty canister to mark the place. It just took seconds for the chain to break, once it was half cut, the link ripped itself open and went down the hawse pipe like a shot of tequila. We watched the canister fly ovrboard and the line disappear into the depths, it went taut and the pulled the canister down too. In a few seconds we could not see the canister either. There went the anchor and some 8 schackles of chain (220m). 

Then Captain decided he won't be hanging around this godforsaken Island and he set course for Lisboa, Portugal. Oh well, after some 2-3 days we arrived Lisboa and got ourselves a berth. All hands available went to engine room to help overhauling the main engine, including me. Off went the piston cover and piston and the piston liner. It wa sfinally discovered that the piston liner had almost cracked all the way vertically. Had it cracked completely we would have arrived Lisboa in tow of the Smit Lloyd vessel. Having fixed the anchor we resumed voyage asap and set course for St. Lawrence seaway and Cabot Strait.

This time we had no trouble with the engine, it held fine until we arrived Grande Riviere. It was in the middle of the winter and the harbor basin was full with pack ice. The port did not have any tugboat to break it and Captain was asking them to throw dynamite on it. They thought it was a good joke. Then Captain tried entering through the ice and got stuck at the mouth of the port, he backed away and did a second attempt, he came bit further and was stuck again. 

The 3rd time he backed away even farther and came forward with full steam. I was on the rudder. He entered the ice channel and the harbor basin, I got order to turn to starboard and the bow went towards the pier. I could see people starting to disperse and back off. Then I had to turn rudder to port and we still went forward, the bow was getting closer to the jetty. The dockmaster was shouting on the radio to slow down. We kept on going, closer and closer. Finally a few meters remained and Captain set the engines on stop on the telegraph. The ship glided some more and came to a stop with the bow a few feet from the jetty and the aft some 3-4m. After clearing the agent and other bureaucrats the Captain invited all Officers into his cabin for a stiff drink and to celebrate arrival from our long journey.

After this contract I was invited to sign on again as Chief Officer but I opted to join Columbus Caravelle, a cruise ship in the Far East. Later I heard Atlanta Forest started trading to South America so maybe the choice was not the best decision in my life as it changed the direction quite drastically.


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Thursday, 17 February 1994

Finnsailor

01.02.1994 - 17.02.1994
m/s Finnsailor

m/s Finnsailor

After Norden I got offered a job to m/s Finnsailor as 2nd Officer. I was thrilled to be working in the "No 1" shipping Company in Finland, finally I was going to see what the hype was all about. I had seen their old ships and they were good tools but now I was going to see a newer tool.

M/s Finnsailor is a Polish built in 1987, ro-ro vessel, that is 158m long and had none of the cargo lifts but ramps only. This saved a lot of time in cargo handling. She could load 7620 DWT or 1790m lane length. My job was to correct charts and then to assist the Chief Officer in loading/ unloading. This consisted mainly of tallying dangerous goods and register plates of trucks/ containers.

The ship itself was very spacious, even my cabin was so big that I got agora phobia in it. Moreover I hated to clean it up when I was leaving the ship, all that dust wiping (although we got extra paid for it). We were on a liner traffic between Helsinki and Luebeck, Germany. It took barely 48hrs at sea between the ports as we did 20kts. All in all a very comfy ship to sail but all was routine, nothing ever happened. The messroom was like a restaurant, I almost felt like out of place there. If something happened it was bound to be bad news.

Time passed quite quickly and my temp contract was up and home I went...
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