Day 14: Friday
We berthed on the opposite side of the harbor from Vancouver, so we stayed on board during discharge operations. There was a car carrier berthed next to us which was discharging massive mining equipment and cranes.
We finished discharging the remaining steel products at 0900 hours and so our stay in Vancouver was brief. The pilot boarded around 1300 hrs and set sail back to Long Beach.
Heading back to Long Beach, the crew had the massive task of preparing the holds to be able to load a cargo of Borax, which is a fine powder. We were warned that the cargo hold inspectors would be incredibly strict with their inspection.
The voyage down to Long Beach was uneventful and probably not sufficiently long enough for us to buff the holds ready for inspection. When we arrived into Long Beach again late at night, we anchored in the inner anchorage and promptly had all holds failed! Shore gangs were hired to help with the cleaning. They were on board 24hrs taking 12-hour shifts. I stayed on board for another couple of days before Dad flew over from the East Coast to pick me up and take me back to San Diego to join the rest of the family for the balance of the summer break.
When the captain heard Dad was coming to pick me up, there was a lot fuss over the lunch menu!
Overall, it was a great experience with a fantastic crew. I really bonded with all my shipmates and very much enjoyed the working with and being guided by the Captain, Chief Officer, Third Mate and the British cadets. I now see why my father loves shipping so much!
Day 13: Thursday
Robert started to educate me on all the different types of bulk carriers, such as the handy size bulkers which are used mainly for smaller ports/rivers.
Panamax bulkers are appropriately named as they are the largest bulk carriers able to transit the Panama Canal, whereas the cape-size trade via the Cape of Good Hope. In the tanker trade, Suezmax tankers are the largest size that can go through the Suez canal.
He then told me about the very large ore carriers that Vale built which are called Valemax. He showed me a picture of one which is 400,000 dwt and it would make the Saga Andorinha look like a sunfish!
Day 12: Wednesday
We set sail for Vancouver, Canada and the Second Officer let me take the helm for a few minutes. Not sure how it looked on the chart, but I was nervous and it was certainly a lot harder than it looks!
I was taught how to navigate and how to see if we were on course. We were a tad starboard and so we adjusted the navigation to head 341. I did not however, have the chance to learn celestial navigation. The captain had told me this is a requirement, since there has to be a back-up plan should the systems fail.
I joined Robert on his watch duty from 2400 hrs to 0600 hrs. We passed the San Juan Islands and Johns Island where I had spent a month at Camp Norwester a few years ago. In the distance, I could see the teepee tents of the camp.
Day 11: Tuesday
Today we completed loading of the soda ash and prepared to sail from Portland and take the six-hour journey back down the Colombia River to the Astoria Pilot station.
We left Portland at 1600 hrs and had a pilot change at 2000 hrs from Colombia River Pilots to Colombia River Bar Pilots. At 2300 hrs, as we passed the last outbound pilot station at Astoria, a helicopter landed on the hatch cover to take the pilot ashore.
By this time it was quite windy. I actually enjoyed talking to the second pilot since he was a graduate of Annapolis Naval Academy, which is an institution I would also like to attend.
Day 10: Monday
Robert (the British cadet) and I took a taxi into town, to go eat at a burger place in Portland. I could not wait to eat a Burger after having had so much Indian food. I actually felt satisfied after the burger, which was a refreshing change.
The Seaman’s Centre gave us a ride back to the ship. The ship was still loading the soda ash.