01 August 2012

North Sea trade

The North Sea trade is, for us, mariners, in many aspects, the Foreign Legion of a seafaring career.
Inclement weather, unpredictable even in Summer, short port calls, insanely intense traffic, uncomfortably shallow waters (although well charted), commercial pressure, reduced rest and hard work and... a bureaucratic hell, with endless reports and paperwork.
Nevertheless we seamen have short memories and, most of the times, we tend to forget the bad moments. We leave easily behind the storms, the struggle for our lives and the (comparatively) underpaid hard work.
So, when I remember the North Sea my mind navigates to the midnight sun above the polar circle, in the Summer days of the Norwegian and Icelandic fjords, to the oil rig burners that lit the night and turned it almost into day along the British and Dutch coasts, or to the many wonderful people I've met in my maritime expeditions.
Do I really miss it? You bet!
The Motor/Tanker NCC Tiahmah (IMO nº 7384871), under tug escort, enters the Berendrecht lock, in the port of Antwerp, on a very typical grey North Sea morning.The Berendrecht lock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berendrecht_Lock) is presently the largest in the world, with 500 metres long and almost sixty meters wide. Depending on their size, it can accommodate several ships at once and allows them to access the port of Antwerp interior basin, where the vessels can be alongside free from the natural tidal movements.
Picture taken with Nikon FM3A and Nikkor 28-105 AF-D kit lens.
Fujichrome Velvia ASA 50 scanned on Nikon Coolscan V ED. Post-processed in Adobe Photoshop CS3.