Friday, September 28, 2007

Crazy bridge officers...

The last story that José posted reminded me of a situation that happened while sailing in the Indian Ocean, down the East African coast heading for the Cape. We had to steer the same approximate course for several days – off Africa distances take a new meaning and also our speed was, due to boiler problems, exasperatedly slow. This course meant that for some hours of the day the ship’s mast would become in the alignment of the Inmarsat antenna and the satellite we were trying to connect (I think it was IOR-E) so no voice communication was possible.

When an important call had to be made to the office, the officer on watch would dramatically change the course in order that the Inmarsat antenna and the mast would take another alignment relative to the satellite. We would then steer on that course until the phone call was over, and then resume the original course.

This practice became common to the bridge officers but, as with all other things, bridge officers and engineers are a world apart. The British 3rd engineer used to go aft of the bridge deck for some sunbathing and relaxing while looking aft to the swimming pool (yes we had a swimming pool and no it was not a passenger vessel). When he noticed the dramatic change of course we would come to the bridge wing and check whether we were manoeuvring for other vessel (a vessel was always a novelty on that part of the ocean) or if something was wrong. He wouldn’t ask anything and no one would tell him a thing (this is how it works between engineers and deck officers…). He just would go back to his armchair just to watch a big course alteration a few minutes later (that is, when the phone call was over…). This continued for days so he started to wonder whether these bridge guys were drinking too much or were in fact just crazy people that someone had placed on board a tanker...

4 comments:

LUIS MIGUEL CORREIA said...

Was it before or after this fine VLCC started to loose it's plating at the bow?
She was very nice with her green hull... and twin parallel funnels...

Malheiro do Vale said...

Luís Miguel,

On this trip we managed to get to Sines with the vessel in one part... the plating on the port bow would be ripped on the next one, while passing the Cape Agulhas (which is in fact the cape that divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian Ocean, not the Cape of Good Hope). On that occasion we didn't reach Cape of Good Hope...

Tim said...

I know this situation, we have had "satellite" courses put in the passage plan to avoid shadows from the funnel or mast also.
Interesting what affects passage planning these days, GSM availability, TV reception, Satellite link! oh and all the rest!

Sailor Girl said...

A Real Regata do Tejo é já amanhã! Mais informações no Atlântico Azul! Juntem-se a nós!

You are welcome to participate or join us TOMORROW at the Royal Race of Traditional Ships of the Tagus! More information at Atlântico Azul!