Monday, 3 February 2003

Columbus Caravelle sold

30.01.2003 - 03.02.2003
M/v Columbus Caravelle

As I was looking for a new job I was contacted by the new Owner of CoCa (Columbus Caravelle), the Technical Manager Alan Lowry from CMM Ltd. asking if I would like to follow the new Owner's to Greece. He said my knowledge of the ship would be important for the project they were planning for her, she was going to be converted from cruise ship to mega yacht. As I knew the ship and the idea of being part of a conversion was exciting, I agreed. Not that I had anything else going at that time.

M/v Columbus Caravelle alongside Gaoyanglu wharf, Shanghai
(photo collage)

To begin with I flew to Hong Kong where CoCa sat at her usual buoy mooring and boarded her in a consulting capacity to Alan Lowry so as to know what was ships property and what was not. The people from Conning Shipping were a bit surprised how the tables had turned with me suddenly on the other side. Not that there were any surprises, Conning removed their stuff, mostly decorations and paperwork and such things. I also confirmed which crew was to follow us to Greece, the Ukrainians were a bit sad that they did not get to do the transit.
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Tuesday, 7 January 2003

Columbus Caravelle

04.03.2000 - 31.05.2000 Chief Officer
01.06.2000 - 07.08.2000 Captain
02.10.2000 - 01.11.2000 Chief Officer
02.11.2000 - 04.02.2001 Captain
05.04.2001 - 04.06.2001 Chief Officer
05.06.2001 - 10.08.2001 Captain
09.10.2001 - 09.12.2001 Chief Officer
10.12.2001 - 26.04.2002 Captain
24.06.2002 - 07.01.2003 Captain
M/v Columbus Caravelle

M/v Columbus Caravelle in Jeju Is., S. Korea

As we did not have too many comers to CC or rather we weren't interested in Officers coming on for one contract and then moving on we decided we would rotate the position between 3 persons, C/O Perttu, me as C/O & Captain and Reijo as Captain. It worked well for awhile but was finished after Reijo got a position ashore and left seafaring life to be with his family.

By end of 2000 Conning Shipping acquired a bigger ship, Omar II, to cater for their growing clientele in Hong Kong and so we were chartered down to Singapore with a partnership where I think Conning Shipping also had a finger in the pie. The MO was casino cruises of course. The rumor went that someone had lost nearly 100mil USD in one night at the casino and that enabled for the fleet enlargement.

We made cruises up and down the Malacca Straits and even once we visited Bintan Island in Indonesia as a trial. I think the massive bribes to get a sailing permit there finished the idea. Usually we cruises up to Port Klang, then down to Melaka, from there to Singapore, then Pasir Gudang, again Singapore and Port Klang. It was a rather pleasant itinerary, some days we could go and explore Port Klang or Singapore.

The Indonesian shipping license, I was told the signatures cost a fortune

As I was going so often to Port Klang I applied and got pilot dispensation so we only needed a Harbor Pilot (he only came for the coffee anyways), but it sped up the arrival. Also the radio communication went entirely in Bahasa Melayu, the 1st Officer then, Jukka Kiuru, compiled a nautical phrase list that we rehearsed ourselves on before we started reporting in Malay.

Malaysian pilot exemption certificate

Furthermore, the requirements became more stringent on passenger ships and crew needed to have a Crowd Management course done. Reijo Granqvist had started this certification by making an onboard course and got it certified by Lloyd's Classification society, I continued his work after he left.

We also were required to start a maintenance program digitally, a program that would remind you if something was left undone. It took us about a year to put everything on database but we got it ready in time to our next external ISM audit. It was a really good tool after that.

Arrival ceremony in Shanghai, China (attended by R. Granqvist)

Then suddenly in June 2002 the charter ended in Singapore and Conning Shipping did not extend or renew the contract so they took away the ship and chartered us in traffic between Shanghai and Jeju Island, South Korea. I was on vacation when the transit happened and Reijo took the ship up north from Singapore.

The sailing was at times quite rough when it was typhoon season and the traffic in the river was chaotic. Nothing we had experienced in Hong Kong or Malacca Straits could have prepared us for the nightmarish traffic situation in Shanghai. The pilots were used to old ships, maybe even steamers as they had only telegraph orders for engines and at times were difficult to understand their pidgin english.

One 1st Officer, Heikki Kaukinen, once counted the traffic and got an average of 400 ships passing our berth in an hour. The berth we occupied at Gayonglu jetty was in the centre of the city so one could walk to the Bund and elsewhere. Unfortunately the Charter went bankrupt at end of 2002 and the ship was arrested and Conning Shipping took back the ship to Hong Kong.

I signed off in Shanghai and handed over to an Ukrainian Captain and left for vacation and to find new employment when the news reached me that the ship had been sold to a Greek buyer and Conning Shipping did not have a position to offer me (Omar II was 100% Ukrainian deck & engine crew and, of course, cheaper).
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