04-Jul-2005 -- Coming from Durban and bound with containers for my beloved Lagos (Nigeria), today I visited 34S 26E. The ones having a careful look will realize that the GPS display is different from the other visits on board ship. And indeed, I just had taken over command on a new ship.
But prior to introduce the new "confluence boat" let's have a look towards West, where there is Cape Recife. Have a careful look: in front of it a whale is just blowing! Towards WNW there is the city of Port Elizabeth, a major South African Port. To the NW and NE we see the northern coastline of the Algoa Bay and the ranges of the Great Winterhoek Mountains.
Port Elizabeth, the city closest to the Confluence, is situated at the SW corner of Algoa Bay and nearly midway between Cape Town and Durban. The city has a population of about 300,000. The city grew up around Port Frederick which, built in 1799, is one of the oldest British buildings in South Africa.
As mentioned above, I am now in command of a new ship, the container carrier "Phoenix". The "Phoenix" is trading with containers between Santos (Brazil), Cape Town, Durban, Lagos and Tema (Ghana). Here are the main particulars for the "Phoenix":
- Antigua flagged container carrier built in 1990 at Sietas Shipyard (Hamburg, Germany)
- Radio call sign: V2LX
- Length over all: 157 metres (515 ft)
- Width: 23 metres (75 ft)
- Draft (i.e. the immersion of the hull in the water): 9 metres (30 ft)
- Gross tonnage: 10,868
- Container capacity: 1,100 TEU (=twenty feet equivalent units)
- Maximum deadweight (i.e. the maximum weight of the cargo): 15,160 tons
- Equipped with two cranes of a lifting capacity of 50 tons each
- Main Engine: 4 stroke MAK 8 cylinders
- Output: 12,000 HP
- Maximum speed: 18 knots (33 km/h, 20 statute miles/hr).
Well, nothing special, except for the year of construction. So far I was only sailing on old ships with a technically comparably very simple and low standard. And now they suddenly and cruelly kicked me from my idyllic resort of the late 70-ies just into the 21st century!
The navigating bridge is a jumble of buttons, levers, control lamps, screens, panels, beeping alarms, and whatever electronic garbage I don't know, which all drives me mad. In my opinion a ship does not need anything else than a steering wheel, an engine, a propeller, a rudder and a radar. But here I did find funny devices whose real purposes are still unknown (at least to me). My young officers, however, reassured me that this ship is even already very old and technically outdated. If this is true, I must never join a boat built after 2000 or so!
The only advantage is a built-in GPS in the radar, which allows me to hit offshore confluences now entirely and comfortably alone and without running around to and fro. As all commanding equipment is arranged ergonomically around the radar, I can steer the ship myself whilst checking out the positions.