Wednesday, February 2, 2011

September 19-24 Pacific Ocean Transit

One day has been pretty much the same as another. Once the officers
got their paperwork done after leaving port, they too have little to do besides
standing watch. Engineering officers perform routine maintenance, and
corrective maintenance if need be. The engineroom is automatically
operated, and there are no designated watchstanders in the propulsion plant.
Captain Pschonder chose to go east from Okinawa and pass halfway
between Alaska and Hawaii. He meant to avoid heavy weather that was
farther north, along the actual great circle route. The normal track is to the
north, passing through either La Perouse or the Tsugaru Straits, through the
Sea of Japan, and down to Xiamen, China. Or the reverse track from

The chief engineer gave me a tour of the engineroom. As I never
served in a Diesel ship, this was a somewhat different experience for me.
The one engine, twelve cylinder, in-line, 90000 horsepower Diesel with a
single rudder and two steering engines. There are five Diesel generators,
output voltage is 6000V, and the largest one is rated at 2800KW. Only one
generator is in operation now. The large electric plant capacity is to power
refrigerated containers if there are any onboard, but there are none on this
trip. There is a waste-heat boiler, and an auxiliary boiler which is used in
port. Fresh water is manufactured by a single-stage flash distilling plant.
The ship holds 7800 containers. She was built in Ulsan, Korea, in 2004. Six
months were required to build her.

On September 24, we crossed the International Date Line. So we
have come halfway around the world since July 17, when we left London
and crossed the Prime Meridian.

Life aboard this container ship is very routine. The track is
programmed, monitored by GPS (Global Positioning Satellite), and the helm
is on automatic pilot. Meals go on time. 0730 breakfast, 1130 lunch, and
1730 dinner. Coffee at 0900 and 1500. Ship’s work begins at 0800 and
ends at 1600. The German officers eat in the officers’ messroom, where a
separate passenger table also exists. Penny and I eat at that table. One table
for four has appointed places for the master, chief engineer, and chief mate.
The fourth place at that table is never set, although I gather that if there were
only one passenger on board, that place would be used.

I have never seen the Finnish second mate or the two Filipino officers
in the officers’ messroom at all. Kim Axberg does not even speak German.
There are separate menus for the two messrooms, but only one galley and
only one cook. The messrooms are located to port and starboard,
respectively, of the galley. Penny and I often choose the Filipino entrees
from “the other side.”

There is a gymnasium, a sauna, and a seawater swimming pool. I use
the exercise bike twice a day for thirty minute periods, and do a little bit
with the weight machine. This has been very good for the diet…especially
after all the beer beginning in Poland. They have ice cream after dinner on

The chief mate tells me that we arrive off Point ConcepciĆ³n at 0900
on Monday, September 29, and the Long Beach pilot is scheduled to board
at 1500 that day.

Here is an interesting bit about the cargo ship business. CMA CGM
does not own the Hugo. A German bank does, and the French company
CMA CGM charters the ship from the owners. CMA CGM hires a German
company, NSB, to operate this and other ships. NSB provides crews and
operates more than one hundred ships for six or seven charterers, of which
CMA CGM is one. Evergreen is another, as is Hanjin.

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