This was the time of utmost happiness that was desired by myself for all these years, Working day in day out on vessels sailing the Globe, adapting to everything that had been seen by myself as impossible, Taste of success makes you forget everything!
Odd hour studies and never-ending courses paid off. This is where i say, The life has been fair to me, so have been myself to the life, being awarded Second Mate(FG) was a feeling of joy that seemed never-ending.
It was again the time to say goodbye to the best buddies you make, the wonderful experiences you share, those midnight conversations, Movies together, trips all come to an end, for a seafarer this is true at each and every phase, well being a Defense Brat am used to it.
Yet again good two month of courses on Specialised oil tanker and chemical tanker operations, Bridge team management, Junior officer’s skill enhancement were to be completed before embarking on the new voyages, by now I was really anxious to go again on the sea, this time with a Diamond on my shoulder! I was soon lined up for M.T Nord Optimiser.
This one was going to be really different, all the text you studied all these years is going to be tested with real life show! and this always gives you a feeling of deep nervousness yet there is more of excitement and you are going to unbox something new! what you always desired of.
She was docked at Mailiao, Taiwan, I flied to Taipei and it took about 2 hours of drive to reach the Mailiao harbor, this was a Product Tanker which is engaged in shipment of Clean petroleum products such as Naphtha. Was accompanied by on joining Chief Officer and Third Engineer. Everyone seemed too good to start with and I was comfortable in adapting to the environment onboard soon, it was surprising that I found one of my batch mates as a Senior Cadet onboard who was about to complete his onboard training. This always gives you good feeling of comfort when you meet someone known and close!
I admit, there had been pity mistakes that I committed during those initial days, had to get some hard words from the Master too, but eventually things started running cool and smooth as the Master signed off within a month, and equally did improve the skills of mine. There are lot of things you are unaware of and miss out, when you join at first as an Officer, things might look like this is so simple,I had been fool all my life, but yes everything needs time and patience, If you have it and sincerely want to get the things going, no one can ever dare to stop you!
The ship had a hectic yet good run, initially we were doing frequent voyages to and fro Singapore, Went out to lot of good places around, the first shore leave that I went on was to Nantong in china, this is located near Shanghai, you can’t really call it a city but it was a good modern Chinese town, and the food that I had was exceptional and changed my view of Chinese cuisine to a large extent, this is true that being a vegetarian I have not been able to explore all the delights that this cuisine could offer but certainly I always get a chance to get something that can give a fair idea of the offerings of the cuisine, and especially the verities that are available in vegetarian dishes which are often missed out. The special flavored fried rice, with beans in a garlic and chilly sauce fried to make it more yummy and you can have it until you have a full tummy! of course
the restaurants had extensive menu, some of the buddies enjoyed Octopus, Pork and crabs!
Time was flying by it was 2 months past and we were in the neighborhood, Chittagong, Bangladesh, let me tell you, you can relate each and everything to India, if you accidentally get to Bangladesh, am sure you wont realise this is not India. Bangla cuisine and places around are same what you have been experiencing, except for the too crowdie streets, which are well possible in many parts of India, the shore leave was limited to a good satisfying lunch, vessel headed to Singapore and next to Taiwan, Japan and again to the parts of china and Hong Kong, had been a fairly busy schedule and couldn’t step out.
Dumai, Indonesia was the next good port of call, although always reminds me of a bad memory of not getting hoisted Quebec flag in nighttime, which is still controversial and I couldn’t get a satisfactory answer from anyone, I mean who hoists the flags during the Night time! by afternoon all was sorted out and this was time for a good refreshing shore leave to the Indonesian city of Dumai, lovely was the city,so lovely were the people around, almost everywhere you will find these pillion taxis which are in fact scooters that will carry you at a charge, this was 10$ USD per per head and this guy will show you around all the places of interest, this was a cool idea and a joyful experience all together, Indonesia has lots to offer, whether in cuisine or artefact, most people you find around are friendly.
In-between we had done few Ship to ship operations, one of which involved a STS with TI Europe which is world’s largest tanker ship, amazing it was , a 380 meter giant!
This shipment of Dumai crude oil was to be shipped to Dongying, Shandong province in china , this was a good 11 day voyage ,You start with Malacca Straits, Malacca straits entrance gives you good traffic to deal with, you transit the busy lanes of Singapore straits, head to the southern South china sea, and you start a never-ending battle with the fishing trawlers and boats who are damn confident of being at their position, Navigating officer and the watch keeper must have eagle’s eye , you never know there is a fishing boat head on! And there are immense chances of being caught into a herd of more than 3000 fishing trawlers and boats, which light up the seas in the night like a city that never sleeps , avoiding them by a wide margin is always advisable if you have enough sea room, you have no Brakes on a lakh tonner loaded vessel! you keep going through the south china sea from the southern tip to northern and there comes the East china sea which is almost like south china sea in terms of traffic, there are a lot of main fleet vessels transiting the area in addition to the fishing trawler who are scattered along the coast. Transit the Yellow sea, which I always had thought would be yellow, in my school days, yet I never found it to be yellow! Most important of all characteristics of this sea is the never going fog, which was avoided by us during 2 of our voyages as a matter of luck! I had done almost 7 months by now and there was urge to get off, unluckily which was stretched to another one month.
Pattaya, Thailand was one of the most fascinating places I visited during these 7 months, I took first hand on the floating market of Pattaya, which is all very well-made up of wood, with a river flowing on which rides the entire market, you will find tiny wooden boats selling and fruits, you may also go for a boat ride for another 15$,there are good shops for artefact lovers, you can even buy some funky t shirts, caps, there are lot shops around, I did buy a pair of Thai elephants made up of stone, which is displayed in my drawing room! Well if you really want to see the fun around and you are a fun lover, the recommended time to visit the city is during the evening when the things heat up!! walking street is major attraction of the place, I went on to see the dead street during the day. There are few good shopping malls around, Thai cuisine has good mouth watering dishes, and if you are interested in Indian food there are lot of restaurants to be found over there.
Went on to load crude to second location in Thailand, and it was yet again the very same voyage to Dongying, china. An inspection of Oil major was scheduled
in Dongying so there was some good hard work to be carried out during the voyage, finally discharged this consignment of Crude oil, and departed for Yeosu, South Korea, I was eagerly waiting for my reliever, yes finally he was there at the anchorage, Welcome Onboard Salaminia!