Posted by: Craig | April 28, 2008

Leaving Zeebrugge

After the engine room visit this morning I had lunch and a nap prior to heading forward for departure from Zeebrugge. I noticed that the Falstaf, another Wallenius vessel, had shifted berth, and was now sat on the quay behind us.

Fidelio had to do that last visit apparently, it took five hours for the whole operation, simply, I am told, because there are two stevedoring companies working either side of the basin.

Again letting go was easy, and Pär and the three crew members made light work of bringing in the mooring ropes, and then tying the vessel into the locks.  After an age waiting for the lock gates to open, we are heading out and towards the pilot station where the pilot, after grabbing a free dinner, is away.

Captain Falkenberg points out the ship’s wake as he maneuvers around the pilot boat, admiring the performance of his vessel’s rudder. Although there is it seems a ghost in the machine. When at sea one of the two steering motors is switched off, and it occasionally switches itself on for no apparent reason.

As we pass the vessels at the anchorage I notice that three of the twelve have AIS data showing that they are underway. A common problem, as is the other, that of vessels with information showing they are still at anchor.

An ageing ship passes down our portside, funnel billowing grey smoke. The only smoke I have seen coming out of the Fidelio’s funnel was during engine start up, a quick one second plume as the cylinders fired up.

As we head into the Dover straits there are thirty ships within ten miles of us, but the TSS keeps them separated. A motor tanker passing a mile ahead of us calls the Fidelio, asking which way we are likely to go. Ellinor tells it we are passing astern, a mile behind it.

If they were worried it’s a bit late to suddenly ask that now, she says as an aside. Once we have gone by the tanker we are on course again to enter the main routing channel through the Dover straits.

Ships time is brought back to UK summer time, meaning the three watches do twenty minutes extra on duty tonight. The same rule will follow as the vessel sails across the Atlantic to the US East coast. Although when coming back, there’s twenty minutes less to do as the clocks advance forward.

1930 (BST) rounding Foxtrot 3 buoy and heading south east through the straits and passing South Falls sand banks and on towards Southampton pilots for 0300.

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