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#1 Oct 28, 2019 3:17 pm

New Historian

Sea Legs

When you’re on a long sea voyage, days and days without sight of land, it takes your mind and body a while to calm down, to match the motion of the ocean. It happens imperceptibly: you find yourself staring at the horizon for hours, meditating without realizing. Of course I’m talking about when weather and sea are benign, but even crappy weather can be fun – afterwards.

Compared to the average landlubber I guess I’ve spent a fair bit of time at sea, including five trans-Atlantic trips in cargo ships, trips around the Caribbean in unseaworthy rustbuckets, plus countless sailing trips on owned, chartered and delivered yachts. And apart from one or two nightmares, I’ve enjoyed every minute of them all.

Mind you it wasn’t always like that, my earliest vivid memory is of being scared shitless on a boat off the coast of Trinidad aged five, clinging to my father in what I was certain was a raging hurricane. Later on our father took us by inter-island schooner home to Grenada, I remember looking at the narrow gap on the horizon that separates Trinidad from Venezuela, the notorious Dragon’s Mouth, and asking: Daddy how will this big boat fit through that teeny-weeny space?

‘Just wait son,’ he said. ‘You’ll see.’ And I did.

Fast forward several decades: I’ve done a couple of Trinidad runs by ‘schooner’: rusty old tubs that long ago found themselves unable to trade in first world waters and descended to the lawless shores of the Caribbean where they continue to eke out a living until finally succumbing to age and salt water. The best of this bunch is Ocean Princess under Captain Sowie, who runs a tight ship, or as tight as possible under the circumstances.

Weather permitting it’s a pleasant trip from Grenada to Trinidad, about 12-13 hours overnight. But it’s not for the faint-hearted; these boats are the living embodiment of unseaworthy, any marine surveyor would have a wet dream examining them! Rusted and broken stanchions (railings), deck equipment falling to bits, clumsy cargo handling, atrocious accommodation, zero safety features and don’t even think about using the heads (toilets)!

And then there are the sailing trips, but that’s another yarn …


#2 Oct 29, 2019 9:08 pm


Re: Sea Legs

Not the Ocean Princess I just located I guess... bulk carrier, currently flagged in HK, berthed in Rotterdam at the moment. Built in 2002, Gross tonnage 300053.

Maybe the Ocean Princess 11, flagged to VC, 33mx7m, around 8 knots just off Grenada heading South as of  2 hrs ago..


#3 Oct 29, 2019 9:16 pm

New Historian

Re: Sea Legs

Wow where you get that tracking? Yup that's her, leaves Greenz Tuesday PM arrives back Friday AM - god of rustbuckets willing!

There's an active trade between Grenada & T&T:

Every Tuesday evening, three vessels sail from Grenada, bound for Port-of-Spain: Ocean Princess II, Little Desrine and Eldica David; all departing at around 8PM and arriving Trinidad by about 9-10AM the following morning. A fourth vessel, the Mary G, sails from Grenville, arriving at the same time. In addition, vessels arrive from St Lucia and Saint Vincent – the Caricom wharf in Port-of-Spain can get pretty congested on a Wednesday morning.

There is very little cargo moving southbound, mainly agricultural produce like yams, plantains, bananas and whatever else is in season; all packed in pallets and loaded on board using the ship’s cranes (there are no shore cranes). The process for loading fuel is even more haphazard; the ship’s cranes lift enormous drums of diesel from trucks, swaying ominously, spilling half the fuel onto the deck in the process. The loaded drums are manhandled into position in the hold; from whence the fuel is siphoned off into the ship’s tanks – more spillage.

By comparison with the journey southbound, where the vessels are almost empty, for the northbound leg they are all loaded to the gills, with an assorted cargo of soft drinks, steel rods, building materials, foodstuffs, gas bottles, car parts, diapers and practically everything else that Grenada imports from our industrialized giant to the south. Sleeping space on deck is always a valuable commodity on the return trip.

Last edited by New Historian (Oct 29, 2019 9:20 pm)


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