19-Aug-2004 -- On August 9th I have joined again my good old "Nova Scotia", this time in the Port of Rotterdam where she was discharging frozen orange juice concentrate from Brazil. After completion of discharging we had to drydock at Rotterdam due to urgent repairs. Several corroded shellplates had to be cut off and replaced.
The repairs in the "Rotterdam United Drydock" took eight days and amounted
to the exorbitant sum of 190.000 Euro (US$ 230,000)! When the manager of the shipyard presented me the bill I turned pale. In an Eastern European shipyard (e.g. in Poland) they would have done the same job just for about US$ 50,000. Once again I thanked God to never having taken the insane decision to become a shipowner, but just to remain a small insignificant captain. So the settlement of the invoice is absolutely not my problem :-)
On this picture the ship looks quite small. To give you a better idea of her
dimension: The diameter of the propeller is 5 metres (16 feet), and the
height of the rudder blade is 6 metres (20 feet), which is the approximate
height of a 2-storey building.
On August 19th we finally docked out, and our next employment was already
fixed: Loading bananas in the Belgian port of Antwerp for St.-Petersburg
(Russia). Many people may now put me the question: "Since when bananas are growing in Belgium?" They do of course not, but it is just transshipped cargo. The huge mother ship comes with bananas from Ecuador and Central America and discharges them all in Antwerp. Thence minor lots are feedered by smaller ships (like ours) to other ports and countries which are not importing so huge quantities. In our case the mother ship brought about 5,000 tons of bananas, and we are oncarrying about 1,700 tons of them to Russia.
At 8:30 pm (16:30 GMT) we left the shipyard and sailed down the Nieuwe Waterweg, (which links Rotterdam with the sea), towards the open sea.
Two Pilots were assisting to bring the ship safely through on this busy canal.
In my first visit to this confluence I have
mentioned that after the flood in 1953 a large project was initiated to
prevent such floodings in the future. This project, the so-called "Delta
Plan", involved stronger and higher dikes and numerous flood barriers. The
latest of those flood barriers to be completed was the
storm surge barrier in the Nieuwe Waterweg near Hoek van Holland, of which
this time I could make a photo. The storm surge barrier can be closed in
case of imminent danger and subsequently the Nieuwe Waterweg will be cut off
from the open sea, avoiding serious damages to residential areas, port
facilities and ships.
The Nieuwe Waterweg opens to the sea shortly West of Hoek van Holland. To
the north we see a sandy beach
For another two and a half miles
a breakwater extends into the Sea, whose tip is marked
by a beacon.
Due to the strong wind the pilots left the ship already within the Nieuwe
Waterweg and I got the permission to proceed by my own under radar
surveillance and VHF advices of the three traffic control stations, namely
"Maas Entrance", "Maas Pilot" and "Maas Approach".
This time I could pass exactly over the confluence, and
daylight was still enough to make some pictures.
To the SE we see the "Maasvlakte" (Maas Flats) . From my previous narrative we
learned that the development of Europoort ("Euro gate") started in 1957. A
large complex of ports and industrial areas was created between Rotterdam
and the entry to the North Sea. When more space was needed, the Maasvlakte
("Maas Flats") was created. By means of dikes, dams and sand deposits the
coast line was altered to include many square kilometers of newly created
After having taken two pictures from the confluence, one to SE towards the Maasvlakte and one to the East towards the entrance of the Nieuwe Waterweg I proceeded
through the offshore traffic separation schemes until I got the permission
from "Maas Approach" to turn South towards the "Steenbank" Pilot station,
where I took a pilot after midnight, which brought me up the River Scheldt
until Antwerp, where we finally berthed at 10 a.m. and commenced loading