My first sea phase saw me on-board M.V Cap Andreas. She is a 270m, 6,600 TEU container vessel. I spent 5 months operating up and down the East coast of North and South America.
The route had 13 regular ports in one cycle, on average taking around 50 days to complete (New York back to New York)
New York – Philadelphia – Norfolk – Charleston- Jacksonville – Miami – Santos – Buenos Aries – Rio Grande – Itapoa – Santos – Rio de Janeiro – Salvador – Pecem.
This being my first trip away it was safe to say that I was slightly nervous. I flew out to Miami and joined the ship with three other cadets, two engine and one other deck
I climbed aboard and met in the ships office. The trainee officer led us to our cabins and the Boatswain gave us our work boots and overalls. I spend the rest of the day unpacking and acclimatising to my new surroundings. The cabin was nice. A lot of space to myself and my own en-suite, desk and day bed. After lunch we all met with the second officer for our safety induction and a general do’s and don’ts of the ship.
The next day I was placed on watch with the 2nd Officer. 12-4. having only spent 5 weeks at college I didn’t really have a clue of what to expect or what was going on. But the second officer was helpful to answer my questions and show me the ropes.
The first 4 months I spent mooring during manoeuvring with the second officer and the chief officer both at the forward and aft stations. The final month I spent assisting the 3/O and the Master on the Bridge during manoeuvring. Experiencing both sides of manoeuvring was really helpful in understanding the operation of the vessel.
For the rest of the trip I had regular watches Monday to Saturday with Sunday off! I quickly become used to being on watch and carrying out lookout duties under the officer. Half my trip I spent with the 2/O and the other with the Chief. It was interesting to get an overview of the different roles within the deck department.
My first month was spent familiarising myself with company procedures, instruction manuals, International regulation and the ship. The first month was without doubt the hardest. Everything was alien and it took some time to build a working relation with the officers and crew. After a while, you get into a regular routine.
After watches I would carry out regular day work with the 3rd officer, maintaining safety and firefighting equipment. I assisted the chief officer with ship maintenance work, ballast tank inspections and a lashing inventory. The vessel became a lot less colossal when I became used to living and working on board for so long.
When in port I would carry out cargo watches under the supervision of the OOW. This involved tracking cargo load and discharge progression, following the cargo plan. I would have to check lashings on completion on loading, monitor dangerous and reefer cargos, check mooring lines and generally assist in maintaining the security of the vessel. Sometimes it was a nice change from watch as it requires a lot more physical effort than navigation watch.
The officers were really good at letting me off the vessel to go ashore. Which was great! I was able to see a lot places. A highlight spending Christmas Eve in Buenos Aries and New Year’s Day on Coccobana beach. I was lucky enough to get ashore at every port at least once. It was a surreal experience being in a different place every other day and luckily I spend most of my time in the sunshine.
The crew were really good at helping me, it was good to learn from experienced seafarers the crew were the most fun and seemed to like having cadets on board. The Master and officers organised a crossing the line ceremony when we first crossed the equator which was a good way to break the ice. The best times with the crew would be the BBQ’s on the Saturday nights during the ocean passages.
Overall, my first trip was a great eye opener. I learnt a lot about the industry and the role of a navigational officer. It was hard work both mentally and physically but well worth it. Going away has put me in a much better position for my third phase.