30.11.2009 - 30.11.2009
Standing on the deck of the m/v Green Cape in the harbour, I half watched Cape Town going about it's business and the occasional cable car gliding up to Table Mountain in the distance, and half watched the loading of provisions on to the ship via a large metal cage. The flatbed truck parked below was overflowing with all the essentials. A few sacks of potatoes came up, followed by 2 sacks of onions, several boxes of eggs and, finally, well over 200 crates of assorted booze.
It was going to be one of those sorts of trips.
To be fair, I could see it coming – looking at the manifest when I initially boarded, something had already told me that spending the next 18 or so days on a ship with 1 German, a South African and 25 Poles (all men, and mostly, large men) would not necessarily be the ideal place to detox...
The m/v Green Cape is my home for the next 18ish days. She is a mixed usage freighter, owned by a German company, MACS, with, as noted, a mostly Polish crew and is flagged in the Marshall Islands. She makes a regular round trip between Europe (4 or 5 ports, always including Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp) and South Africa (5 or 6 ports, some of them twice, and with the occasional additional double run) plus sometimes Walvisbaai, totaling roughly 50days.
She was built in Italy almost 30years old, and is due to be retired/scrapped and replaced within the next few months. She is only scheduled for one more trip after this, although rumours suggest she may survive a while longer as the Chinese company who are building her replacement have gone bankrupt, and in these economic times priorities change slightly.
Her age makes her design slightly unusual to the now common mid-size container ships, in that she has space for some containers behind the tower/cabins. Also, and much more unusually for a ocean going freighter, she has a vehicle deck with full ro-ro capability. On this voyage, we leave Cape Town with a lower hold full of coal, the upper hold containers, plus a dozen or so petrol tankers on the vehicle deck, and another 50 or so containers on deck. At Walvisbaai, we are due to gain another 135 or so containers for a total of 500ish. At total capacity, she can handle about 300 containers on deck, plus 500 or so below and whatever she has in the hold and vehicle decks.