Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Captain's blog - March 2009

March was spent alongside in Mumbai only. We had a MCA commercial yacht status survey and inclination test that was concluded on the 4th. Then after this the rest of the month was spent rectifying observations done by our surveyor, Mr. Alf Cashmore. Suddenly our “to-do” list was completely full.

Alf Cashmore, our MCA surveyor

I was lucky and had Avnish here in the beginning to source out all the contractors and get the work started. Without his help I would have struggled with the bigger jobs, his contacts in Mumbai gave us a headstart.

Load testing our wooden boom

We had plenty of electrical work for additional emergency lighting, moving of navigation lights, laying new cables for various lights, additional bilge alarms and so on. In the engine room we had nothing special but some additional insulating jobs and fitting engines with local sensors and gauges so the Engineers would know how fast I am sailing. We also got new exhaust silencers made to our auxiliary engines as the old ones were the one causing problems during our trip to India, now we got brand spanking new exhausts made out of CuNiFer steel.

Further to our survey we needed deadlights for saloon windows and aft door. Finally we got a loadline assigned as well.

Our CO2 system needed some modification as well as we needed additional callpoints and sensors and a remote alarm panel to the bridge.

Another contractor was assigned to make stainless steel railings to comply with the 1000mm height requirement. Furthermore, we needed air tight flaps to our engine room ventilation outlets.

One of Mumbai's pan stalls - Pagal Pan (Crazy Pan)

On the 10th it was the time for Holi, the festival of colours. We got all crew on the pier and we pasted all red while having glasses of bhang at the end of the day, after that only the standby crew remained onboard while other crew went home to their families. On the 11th I went out with Richard and Martula to Juhu beach to see the action. We did not even get 100meters off the ship when we met a marauding group of Indians with bags of colors. At Juhu beach we encountered people by the busload, all in different colors. At places the seawater was having color, some estates was throwing parties with music blaring and colored water running off from the gutters. After having seen enough we headed off to Colaba and had a lunch at Leopold’s.

On 14th I went out with Xerxes, Martula and Sunil, they took me to Gokul restaurant where we enjoyed some snacks and Old Monk rum.

On the 18th I had to shift berth from #16 to Victoria Dock #15, Port Captain took one bottle of whisky for the effort. The next day a sail yacht came to our old berth, s/y Georgia. Beautiful boat. Later on during the day I went for a lunch with Aashim Mongia, our agent here in Mumbai. The venue was at Khyber restaurant and was specializing in north Indian food. We had a delicious curry with garlic nan bread and dhal. I was so full that I did not eat anything until the next day.

Then we got sailing orders for Thailand so I had my hands full of arranging visas to Malaysia and Thailand. Our departure from India is now set to 16th April for Langkawi, Malaysia. I also got a stewardess appointed to us, her name is Kalpana Brahma. Now we are a full crew.

From the 19th onwards we lost A/C as the heatexchanger contractor failed to box them back up, so it was leaking. Needless to say we were hot. All crew slept out on decks for days. Every morning I woke up to crow’s that live in the area. The 20th I visited Thomas with Richard and stayed overnight (no A/C onboard, remember?). The next day we visited Rodney up in Virar so in effect I traveled through whole of Mumbai by train.

Chor Bazaar

On 20th I went to Chor Bazaar with Jyothi and Richard and got us a clinometer and some brass knick-knacks for the ship. For myself I got a few brass statues of Buddha and Kali, the God of Destruction and an Aladdin lamp (the genie was missing though).

On the 21st was Richard’s birthday and we celebrated onboard with a cake and flowers, still sweating of course.

Crawford Market, textile section

On 23rd we got some action as we went for a compass adjustment and engine performance test. Pilot hopped off as soon as we got to Middle Ground and told me “Captain, you know the place, anchor where you see fit after you’ve adjusted your compass”. Oh well, no objections on that point. So we swung in front of the Colaba workshop and got our compass adjusted and then we drove the crap out of our main engines and took readings of their performance. All results were satisfactory. Then we anchored again in front of Gateway and stayed there until the 26th when I moved back to Victoria Dock #15.

Darukhana beach

On the 28th I visited Darukhana ship wrecking yard. It was huge, it was dirty, it was indescribable. I saw 5-6 ships in different stages of scrapping. One ship being demolished I suspect might have been an ex-Finnish or Swedish ship as I could see the old name “Hamnö” embossed on the bow. Cutting was going on all ships and the shore was littered with gas bottles, cut out metal plates, ship furniture and equipment, people was milling around everywhere, the activity was like in an ant-nest. The immediate beach front was full of stores built from old steel plates and odd parts and inside was steel pipes, old propeller shafts and whatnot for sale. There must be tons of steel lying around. Business was going on briskly. All around was small hutments of slum dwellers, one could see old women around, food hawkers and kids running around. The pollution in this area was extensive, the beaches were soiled black after years of yard works.

Darukhana beach

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