28 October 2012

MS Deutschland

Although not so old (she was launched in 1998), the MS Deutschland has the looks and the feeling of the late great liners and their Era, which finished during the sixties.
Contrasting with the modern cruise ships (usually a mix of resort, shopping mall and Las Vegas casino), the Deutschland has the classic interiors now, sadly, lost in the modern naval architecture. The profuse use of noble woods and wood work and the ever present shiny brass should make any ship fan more than happy to sail with her.
As for me, with was a pleasure to be her Pilot.
A sculpture in MS Deutschland's beautiful main stairway. It's not the only one. Along the vessel's different halls and stairways there is plenty of artwork to be admired.
Picture taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Pilot Card:
Ship's name: M/S Deutschland
IMO number: 9141807
Type: Cruise ship
LOA: 175.30 mts
Beam: 23.00 mts
Summer displacement: ?
Max draft on manoeuvre: 5.80 mts
Propulsion: Diesel engines, two variable-pitch propellers, total propulsion power: 12320 KW
Rudder: 2 Spade rudders - Independent
Bow thruster: 1 (total power: 1000 KW)
Stern thruster: N

24 October 2012


Started today my three weeks working period, after a couple of weeks off-duty, in the port of Funchal. We are already in the full cruise ship season, so today I've had house full. Starting with the arrival manoeuvre of the M/V AIDAcara, at 0700 in the morning, we received also the cruise ship Ventura (with ETA to 1230) and, subsequently, the M/V Braemar, arriving at 1600. Southwesterly winds, varying from force 5 to 7, were a constant during the all day. Add some rain showers in the mix and a two meters swell outside and you'll got the receipt for Pilot's wet feet, which, in fact, did happen.
Well... seaman's life. Like a fellow colleague has the habit of saying: if this was easy, it would never, ever, be for us.
The AIDAcara leaving the port of Funchal, a few hours ago, and heading to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary islands, her final call in Europe before the transatlantic crossing that will lead her to Rio de Janeiro and to a two-months period sailing in the South-Atlantic waters. Godspeed.

Pilot Card:

Ship's name: M/V AIDAcara
IMO number: 9112789
Type: Cruise ship
LOA: 193.34 mts
Beam: 27.60 mts
Summer displacement: ?
Max draft on manoeuvre: 6.00 mts
Propulsion: Diesel engines, two variable-pitch propellers, total propulsion power: 21720 KW
Rudder: 2 - Independent
Bow thruster: 2 (total power: 2000 KW)
Stern thruster: N

Picture taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

17 October 2012

Love and hate

I've always had a bipolar relationship with my professional seafaring life. Sometimes it seemed to me the most romantic career that anybody could ever dream of. Other times it simply looked just like a big waste of my (ours!) time in this good old planet. Granted, most of it is filled with water. So being a professional mariner in it is not as out-of-place as we might think. However, seafaring is a rose filled with thorns. To live this "adventurous" life the price to pay is high. We'll gradually loose contact with family, with friends. And that solitude will walk with us through our entire career, being it ten or thirty years long. It's like being a monk, without the habit and the implied celibacy.
And this feeling is not a new one. Already in the ancient Greece, a philosopher of the Era stated that there were three kinds of persons on the planet: the living ones, the dead ones and the seafarers. During my two years as a Cadet, when everything looked sunshine and roses and when I, rightfully, thought of myself as being a descendant of Magalhães or Vasco da Gama, I used to listen a lot one of my older shipmates favorite remarks: the sea is for the fishes. Sometimes they went as far as to emphasize that if this was the right place for us, we should have born with flippers, something that I obviously had not.
From those days on, my relation with my chosen career was always a tie between the good days (and they normally were marvellous) and the bad ones (normally disgusting).
One thing, however, I never forgot from those early days. I asked a shipmate (a First-Class Seaman, now retired for years), during one of the many boring lookouts on deck we used to do, what would he like to do after retirement. He said he'd love to make an ocean voyage. On a sailing vessel. Pushed only by the wind. To forget the endless seafaring life on motor-vessels, their main engine vibrations and the propulsion cavitation. Free from the rat race.
Like all souls in this Earth, he, too, searched the purity of his life though simplicity. And I knew that our happiness in life is merely dependent on the satisfaction of (mostly) a simple wish. And that our personal universe, to lead us to happiness, doesn't have to be so large. The beauty of life is on the simple things. We just have to learn to discover and cherish them.
We just have to take (as Robert Pirsig wrote in "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance") a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.
A fisherman launches his raft to the sea, one early morning, in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brasil.
Photo taken with Nikon D40X and cheap Nikkor 18-55mm AF-S 1:3.5-5.6 G VR kit lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

12 October 2012

A trip to the North coast

The North coast of Madeira has unique landscapes. Both human and natural. Today I made a short afternoon trip to the coastline between São Vicente and Santana. Rainy afternoon and not the best light. Anyway, the trip was merely a sigthseeing one.
The North coast of Madeira (camera aimed to the NE), photographed from the S. Cristóvão restaurant belvedere, in mid-afternoon. On the left upper part of the photo, near the horizon line (and almost disappearing in the lower clouds), lies the island of Porto Santo.
Rose garden in Quinta do Arco, in Arco de São Jorge. North Coast of Madeira. One of the biggest in Portugal, this rose garden has more than 1700 different species of these lovely flowers.
Swimming pool decorative figures in Quinta do Arco, in Arco de São Jorge. Although the air temperature was merely so-and-so and the sky was cloudy, the pool's water was truly inviting for a swim.
The fabulous altar of the XVIII century São Jorge church, one of the most beautiful in Madeira. Handheld photo at ISO 3200, already in the physical limit of the Nikon D40X (sorry for the noise!).
All the photos taken with Nikon D40X and Sigma EX DC 18-50mm f/2.8 Macro HSM and Cokin System P linear Polarizer (except last one).
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.