CHRISTMAS DELIVERY

My arrival back in Auckland was a quiet affair, the wind disappeared and I motored into the harbour in sunny calm conditions.  Truce is now berthed in Bayswater Marina where she will spend a couple of months until I find a more permanent berth in the New Year.

Heading into Auckland with no wind
Heading into Auckland with no wind

It was good to settle back into New Zealand life, especially as the summer weather is on the way and days are long and warm.  As usual there are a heap of odd jobs to do around the house and garden, but no hurry, I am just taking it easy after my Pacific crossing.

However, it wasn’t too long before I was packing my bag for another trip overseas.  This time for a ship delivery from the Netherlands to India.  In mid-November I left Auckland in sunshine and arrived in a wet, cold and dark Amsterdam – quite a shock to the system.  A taxi ride took me to a hotel in Rotterdam where I joined the rest of the crew, a mixture of Dutch, Belgium and Indonesian.

The next day I headed out with the other crew to join the ship and prepare for the voyage ahead, 7,000 miles to India which will see us spend Christmas at sea and arrive at our destination before the New Year.  The ship is fresh out of the shipyard and as usual everywhere was buzzing with technicians doing final installations and testing of systems.

The ships crew started the task of preparing for the upcoming voyage, receiving provisions, preparing the voyage plan, getting familiar with the ship and its systems, safety training and drills and of course the volumes of paperwork and certification that are part of modern seafaring.  After two days on board we were ready to sail – but not before a good night’s rest.

The next morning the Pilot boarded, the gangway was sent ashore and we let go the mooring lines.  I carefully manoeuvred the ship away from the berth into the Nieuwe Mass River, very aware that a lot of people were watching from the shipyard.  Taking a new ship for the first time is always interesting and a steep learning curve to establish quickly how she responds to engines, rudders and thrusters.

Before reaching the sea we had to pass three bridges in Rotterdam.  This involved lengthy waits in the river for bridge opening times – which are coordinated with traffic conditions to avoid more congestion than usual in the city.  After an hour wait we passed the Van Brienenoordbrug and then had a lengthy wait in the river for the second bridge, the Koninginnebrug, to open.  During this wait we were passed by the old tug the ‘Spanje’ with Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) on board.  Zwarte Piet is a traditional Dutch Christmas character – who in recent years is becoming controversial with his blacked up face and curly wig.

Tug Spanje with Zwarte Piet on board
Tug Spanje with Zwarte Piet on board

 The next bridge we passed was the Koninginnebrug before entering the Koningshaven.  We waited in the confined area of the Koningshaven for half an hour before passing the Erasmusbrug (nicknamed the Swan bridge) and finally being free to head towards the Hoek van Holland and the North Sea.

By late afternoon we dropped the pilot at Maascenter.  The weather forecast was not too good for the southern North Sea.  After the pilot departed we spent some time securing the anchors and double checking all was secure on deck before picking up speed and heading off to start the voyage to India.

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