27 February 2013


* Means "Hello!" in Tuvaluan.
I've finally finished my three weeks at work and I'm proceeding in a very quick order for a couple of weeks of relaxation.
My service period ended, as usually, with a fully dedicated week to the port of Caniçal and today, the last day, I've finished my duties for now with three manoeuvres. Three departing vessels.
The first of them was the Paula C, a small ninety meters' bulk carrier with wheat as her cargo. Coming from France and bounding for Spain, they enjoyed almost five days alongside to "recharge the batteries".
We, seamen, all know that ships are not built to be alongside. They are made for navigation. If we could resume in just a small sentence the meaning of commercial shipping it would be "the least time navigating and the shortest time alongside". Thankfully not all cargoes are equal and, most of the times, bulk cargoes usually take longer to load and discharge. Therefore crews working on these vessels normally enjoy some "quality" time while alongside. And I place the adjective between commas so that you don't get the wrong idea: that being a seaman is like being in an endless cruise. It's not. True, we still can find a little bit of time to visit, to explore, to enjoy our own slice of the globalization that we helped to create. However those moments are getting shorter and shorter, as the commercial pressure builds up around ships and crews.
Thank God that was not the case for Paula C and her crew during the past weekend. Her last visit to Caniçal was probably around two years ago. Coincidentally on both occasions the Captain was the same and so was the Harbour Pilot (me!).
So it was a good surprise to meet once again Captain Kolapi Utime, who is, proudly, the only Merchant Marine Captain from the small island nation of Tuvalu.
And since it is not usual to meet a colleague from such an exotic location, we ended up having a cool chat after the arrival manoeuvre was done, and before he went ashore to enjoy his dinner and taste once again those "delicious Portuguese fish dishes".
When I inquired him about the population of the island he told me that they are about ten thousand citizens. "Well... presently one less, because I'm here!", he laughed.
Captain Kolapi Utime and me on the Starboard bridge wing of the M/V Paula C, before her departure manoeuvre from the port of Caniçal, yesterday afternoon.
Pilot Card:
Ship's name:
M/V Paula C
IMO number: 9373553
Type: General cargo ship - bulk carrier
LOA: 89.80 mts
Beam: 14.50 mts
Summer displacement: ?
Max draft on manoeuvre: 6.40 mts (arrival)
Propulsion: Diesel engine, one variable-pitch propeller, total propulsion power: 1980 KW
Pitch: Behaves like a right-handed
Rudder: 1 - Flap rudder
Bow thruster: 1 (total power: 250 KW)
Stern thruster: N
Picture taken with Panasonic DMC-FT3 and post-processed with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 4.1.