It is Monday the 20th of March and yours truly is sending this special travel report from en-route as passenger on freighter mv Bright Sky of MACS Maritime Carrier Shipping GmbH & Co (www.macship.com) from Leixões, Portugal to Durban, South Africa.
I arrived here at Walvis Bay, Namibia on the 17th of March early morning and today, the 20th of March I am sitting at the yacht club overlooking the South Atlantic Ocean with a glass of white wine in hand contemplating the sea voyage I have had so far. I left the port of Leixoes on March 1 and the voyage south to Namibia has been yet another one for the memory bank. That has always been my favourite bank in the world why? Because you can deposit and withdraw at will and opening hours are 24/7 x 365, not like other banks of today where customer service is often a thing of the past and where when it’s raining they want the umbrella back that they gave you when the sun was shining.
I booked the owners cabin onboard this large MPP vessel fully loaded with containers, trucks and other machinery and equipment for the African continent. The scheduled stops for my trip are Walvis Bay, Cape Town, Maputo and finally Durban on/about April 1st.
You will ask perhaps why does he go on a freighter? Is he not bored? How is the food? what to do for exercise? Is there internet onboard? So he doesn’t get seasick? How about rolling, pitching and weather, etc..? The best way to describe my experience onboard for these 16 days is by showing you some pictures and videos as they can best describe my wonderful experience onboard a freighter, something I have done since 2005 as a passenger with regularity worldwide.
1. Food – a selection of what I have been eating during the voyage can be seen here. Food is solid, plentiful and I, for one have NOT lost an ounce of weight so far…
2. Exercise – here you can see photos of the well equipped gym, small pool, table tennis and the whole ship to walk around which I do almost daily. 12 laps amounts to some 6-7 km and since there is no elevator, it is 6 flights of stairs all the time to/from my cabin and the mess-room (the dining room on a ship).
3. Sunrises and sunsets are the most wonderful proof of life in my view and a main reason besides the solitude for me taking such trips – See a few incredible pictures from the first 16 days here.
4. Nights onboard if you cannot sleep, what then? That is also amazing as there is no light pollution and on a clear cloudless night you will see stars that you never dreamed of. I tried to capture the sky, including the moon and you can find photos here.
5. Some general impressions of the vessel, can you basically move around everywhere? Yes indeed with common sense and being careful as its a moving entity of course but take a look at some selected pictures here.
6. How about the cabin? The owners cabin onboard is a marvel to behold and as most things in life simplicity yet functionality is all we need – with 2 rooms, a day and a night room including a great shower/toilet at least I, for one ask nothing more. See here.
Finally I come to the selection of a few videos that I took during the voyage so far for the first 16 days and you will find them here.
A trip like this of course could NOT be realized unless the owners of the company “carrying” me as a passenger would allow passengers onboard so a huge THANK YOU and credit goes to the owners of MACS who, for years have been synonymous with superior, reliable and freight forwarder FRIENDLY service to and from Southern Africa. They are one of the few cargo ship owners left in the world that accept passengers and thus help to spread the gospel about what shipping really is and I dare say that they ALSO due to this fact get more customers on the cargo side because I, for one, representing some 300 freight forwarders worldwide, will certainly sing the praises of MACS as a must ask shipowner for the reasons mentioned.
On a personal note of course I believe that owners of successful companies kind of “owe it” a bit to return something to, shall we say, the “joe public” and one way of doing this is indeed to allow the general population to see the life of shipping. One might ask, but how about the captain and the crew, are they not bothered by passengers? Well, frankly speaking NO. Naturally, if you are a bother yourself and an ignorant one ashore you may also be the same onboard and you might be told so in no uncertain terms, but 99% of passengers going on such trips respect and obey the rules onboard and consequently 99% of seafarers are only happy to see passengers onboard.
First hand impressions from me here in Walvis Bay, Namibia? It is truly an amazing and beautiful country with nice people, richness if they want to harvest it and fantastic food. They luckily seem NOT to have succumbed, too much at least, to the allure of “investments” from big countries only to mean ownership (China may come to mind…) and other big companies even in shipping who monopolize everything they can get their greedy hands on. You all know who they are, buying market shares or dumping for some years to get rid of locals only to increase rates rapidly later on is a known tactic by these multinationals and nowhere more so than in Africa, so perhaps an FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) organization like in the US could be very handy here in Africa and come to think of it in Europe too. But incompetence at the political top of things is regrettably abound in many places in the world, and thus the status quo persists.
Although this report is sent today on Monday the 20th of March, I shall endeavor to return to Thursdays again and will have my 2nd and final travel PCW newsletter for you on April 6th and then we are back to normal again with issues including interviews, wise words and my ultra wise observations ? of course.
Your editor, and freighter traveler onboard mv Bright Sky currently at Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Until April 6th, I remain…
Bo H. Drewsen