Wednesday March 21st
Captain Søren H. Hansen reporting from the bridge of Clementine Maersk
On Wednesday 14th at 18.31 hours we arrived at the reporting line off the Suez Canal. Deadline for joining the southbound convoy is 19.00 hrs. If you do not make the deadline then you must wait 24 hours for the next convoy unless you decide to pay a surcharge of $26.000 USD, 5% of the Canal fee for arriving late.
After passing the line we were instructed to drop our anchor at the Northern Anchorage area V4 and wait for the convoy to start.
Later in the evening we were called by the Port Said Port Control who informed us that we should be ready at 23.00 hours to be No. 3 in the Convoy.
One by one, ships were heaving up their anchors and slowly proceeding by their convoy number into the buoyed fairway to the Suez Canal. A Pilot joined at 01.05 hours.
Passing the Port Said is quite hectic with the Maersk Agent and authorities coming on board to check and pick up papers. I had prepared all the papers by laying them out on the Deck Office. The papers were in folders to the Agent, Suez Canal Inspectors, Immigration, Port Health, Security etc. The Chief Officer takes care of all of this.
At the same time one electrician from ashore was joining. His job was to adjust the heading of our forward Suez Projector with an intensity of 3.000.000 candela. Apparently something from “the old days” as the projector is situated 250 meters from the Bridge and hidden by all the containers. Today we are using all our modern equipment and instruments to navigate and follow the exact track through the Canal having a breath of 330 metres with a depth of 20 metres. When the Canal opened in 1869 the breath was only 140 metres with a depth of 11.6 metres.
In this process we also have our stores crane pick up a mooring boat. The mooring boat and its crew are to be used in the case that there is a sandstorm. In which case, we will have to send some lines ashore to moor the ship.
35 minutes later the agent and authorities left the ship and we were able to increase the speed from 6 to about 10 knots. With 160 kilometres ahead before reaching the end of the Canal, it was time for a nice cup of coffee and some chocolates.
The first half of the Canal is more or less straight north south. After about 2½ hours sailing we passed a bridge. Having a clearance of 68 metres there was no need to lay down our mast like what we did in Newark.
Later when passing the town of Ismalia it was time to change the pilots.
At the same time the sun was rising from the dessert of Sinai. It was a very beautiful morning.
On the western side of the Canal some part of the land is green with some very small farms, but on the Sinai side most of the land is sand from the big dessert.
We reached the Great Bitter Lake at 08.00 hours, and it was time to drop our anchor and wait for the northbound convoy to pass.
Three hours later we were heaving up our anchor and proceeding again. When we passed the town of Suez at the end of the Canal the wife of the Chief Engineer and 2 off signers left together with the pilots at 14.55 hours. It was a very fast transit this time. Sometimes this can take hours.
With more than 50 ships passing every day it seems to be an endless parade of containerships, oil tankers, car carriers, bulk carriers etc.
That was my very last Suez Canal transit, and with a cost of around 515.000 USD.
When we got to the Red Sea the temperature was slowly increasing, so we turned the ships air conditioning on again.
Sunday we left the Red Sea by passing the Strait of Bab el Manded and entering the Gulf of Aden. Later we will enter the Indian Ocean with the much talked about Somalia pirates. Before we enter this area all crew members are called to a meeting at the Bridge. The Chief Officer informs everyone about company procedures for passing such a high risk area and what to do in case of a pirate attack.
I have also sent some information to some Navy and Security Centres in this area in preparation for our passing. These Centres then follow us on a daily basis, based on daily reports that I send them until we have passed India. We also increase our speed here to 22 knots.
Today we are having sunshine with a very nice temperature of 30 C.
During the afternoon I will walk on top of the wheelhouse, 116 times from side to side (43 metres) giving me a total distance walk of 5 kilometres, - a nice walk and a great way to get some fresh air.
Next week the seawater will reach a temperature of 28-30 C, and this means it will be time to fill the ship’s swimming pool!
We are set to arrive in Tanjung Pelepas next to Singapore on Tuesday the 28th March at 23.00 hours.
Posted on Wednesday, March 21st 2012