Monday, 15 December 1997

Work experience

07.10.1997 - 15.12.1997
M/s Finnmaid

m/s Finnmaid (Pic by Dirk Jankowsky)

Having signed off Columbus Caravelle I was at home but was called from the job centre whether I would take on a short replacement job on FG-Shipping's M/s Finnmaid as 1st Officer, to which I agreed.

Finnmaid is one of the experimental ships from the era when the development of the Ro-Ro (roll-on/ roll off) concept was being tried out. It was originally built for a system developed by Finnlines but never took on, a bit like Sony's Betamax. So, she was converted to accept trailers and trucks. She was built in 1972 by the Wärtsilä shipyard in Turku, Finland. Length is 130m and she could load 5400 DWT.

The propulsion was also somekind of experiment of the time, she had twin screws but only a single rudder, this made her steering sluggish at slow speeds. No bowthruster but an air blower that could be used as one, the main idea for the blower was that the air would be blown under the ice so it would break easier during winters.

Now she was plying between Naantali, Finland and Kapellskär, Sweden, all trailers on below deck and trucks on tween deck. The trucks had drivers with them and many of them were on their way to Central Europe for 6mths of trucking. Quite often the Swedish police would set up shop at the end of the ramp and test all drivers for alcohol content.

The ship was old but worked well, crew also was very nice and I was doing 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. The navigation was most of the time in the archipelago with the Liner Pilot navigating. One of the pilots happened to my old Captain from Columbus Caravelle, Ralf Jacobsen. The OOW's duty was to follow up on navigation, logbooks and alarms. Furthermore, I got the working hours log that was sent to office on a daily basis. It was a demanding job as there was 3 different union contracts in force, one for ratings, one for Engineers and one for Officers and I had to send this report every morning after my 12-4 dogwatch duty.

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Monday, 7 July 1997

Work experience

02.06.1996 - 10.09.1996 Chief Officer
10.09.1996 - 04.11.1996 1st Officer
03.12.1996 - 07.07.1997 Chief Officer
M/v Columbus Caravelle

M/v Columbus Caravelle

I had finished my Captain's Class and had been in contact with Crossline whether I would like to go there to start as Chief Officer on m/s Atlanta Forest. I had tentatively agreed on this but, was suddenly called up from BMC and offered a steady Chief Officer's vacancy on m/v Columbus Caravelle, the younger sister ship of m/s Delfin Star that I had worked on last summer.

I did not take long to decide where to go as the salary was excellent, I knew the job and the ship was also "fresher". So, I called up Crossline and cancelled our agreement and I was once again on my way to the Far East.

As told earlier m/v Columbus Caravelle was sistership to Delfin Star and both remains of the defunct Delfin Cruises now under Finnish Government Ownership (through offshore connections) and being managed by Baltic Marine Consulting (BMC). Columbus Caravelle (CC) had earlier been chartered in Singapore and Indonesia for similar casino cruises as gambling is forbidden so the ever inventive Chinese chartered these ships to go out on International waters to play cards.

Now she was in Hong Kong as Delfin Star had been sold and there was need for more Casino ships in the city state. My Boatswain Jimmy from Delfin Star was Bosun on CC as there had been some crew changes on the way up from Singapore. I had as Captain Ralf Jacobsen who was interchanging with Captain Bo Rosenqvist. As steady Chief Officer was Karl Karlsson. Ralf and Karl resigned later as they wanted to take on a liner pilot position in Finnlines, (which they eventually got and pensioned themselves from there). As new replacement came Captain Reijo Granqvist.

The safety culture on CC was better than on Delfin Star as Captain Ralf had implemented a rigorous safety program from his years in the Caribbean cruise liners. We still had the same problem with the Chinese crew but with this charter we had them on our side and we could discipline the crew to get better. Also the Hotel Manager, Danny Chong, was an energetic Malaysian that never seemed to run out of steam.

Hong Kong itself does not offer great sights but as I stayed there I came to visit all places worth seeing and probably not worth seeing as well. It is a bustling city where the never relenting pace pulls down the weaker person. It is not a place to grow up but to make money in.

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