RTWSA – Voyage to Malaysia

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

This is the second half of my journey on the CMA CGM Titus. After leaving Nadhodka Russia, we headed south to our next port in Ningbo China. It took us two days to get to Ningbo and because we were delayed in Vancouver and Russia, we lost our scheduled berthing and had to wait outside the port again for the next opening.

The Chinese port are very efficient and fast. In fact there cranes are set up with double gantries so they can haul two 40 foot containers at once.

I was not able to get off at any of the Chinese ports as we were there for less than 24 hours and most of the ports were far from the city and public transport.

I continued to be fascinated with the loading process and took far too many photos and videos.

After Ningbo we traveled to Shanghai and again had to wait for a berthing slot. Shanghai is the largest container port in the world. It is actually about 80 km outside the metropolitan area on an island with a very long bridge connecting it to the mainland.

The company canceled our next scheduled stop in Hong Kong and sent us on to Yantian, where we got a berth right away. In the Yantian port, we could see some of the city from the bridge. Also, I got to get off for an hour to go to the Immigration Office. When the ship arrived in China, immigration stamped my passport without needing to see me in person. However, to get my exit stamp, I had to have my face checked against my passport. This required me to get off the ship, go with the ship’s port agent to Immigration, which was a 20 minute drive across the container port (huge place) and a 5-minute walk from the gate. On the way, the port agent was stopped by security for a random breathalyzer test. It was Chinese New Year and they were checking for people who had celebrated on duty. I was amazed that anyone was working at all on the holiday.

After leaving China and on our way to Vietnam, it was time for maintenance and drills. I got to participate in an abandon ship drill and got to climb in the lifeboat. Really cool and I am really glad it was a drill and not an actual need to abandon the ship.

Life boat drill

 

Life at sea was pretty quiet for me as a passenger. I read a lot, crocheted a scarf, climbed stairs and stared at the sea a lot. I also played thousands of games of solitaire.  You can play much faster on a iPad than with physical cards.

As I mentioned before, my cabin was quite large and my bed was separated from a lounge area by a divider with a planter filled with faux greenery. Unfortunately for me though, some of the faux plants looked like nut grass, a nasty weed that is hard to get rid of and the bane of my garden. Every time I looked over at the divider, I want to pluck those faux weeds.

Can you see the nut grass?

 

Meals were another way to mark time passing and a chance to talk with some of the crew. I ate in the officers’ mess room and meals were designed for the Romanian officers. Breakfast was a help yourself buffet and I usually had oatmeal. At lunch and dinner, we had a soup course first which was always good. When I was finished with my soup, Mark, the steward would bring out the main dish, usually some kind of fried meat, fried potatoes and a cabbage type salad. By the time we got to Malaysia, the fresh fruits and veggies were running low and the variety was limited. Tomatoes and cucumbers only last so long on board. I was able to restrict myself from the desserts most of the time, but sometimes at lunch they had Magnum Ice cream bars and those were too tempting.

Some of the yummy meals I enjoyed

 

After leaving China, we stopped for 18 hours in Vung Tau, Vietnam. On the way into port, we passed a hill and the captain gave me the binoculars and pointed out the hill. He called it Rio. There on top the hill was a gigantic statue just like the Christ Redeemer in Rio De Janerio. The channel into port is very narrow and tricky. There were many small fishing vessels playing chicken and crossing in front of us and close beside us. Several of the crew were on watch duty.

The crane operators in Vung Tau were the fastest of my trip. Even the cranes moved fast. In Vancouver, the cranes went about 5 miles a hour when the rolled along the dock into position. In Vung Tau, it was 15 miles an hour!

After Vietnam, we headed to Malaysia and got to the Singapore Straights about mid day. These straights are the most congested shipping channel in the world. We had extra crew and officers on the bridge to help spot for problems during the three hours we were transitting the straight. From a distance, I could see Singapore, which I had visited in 2014. It was pretty amazing to see so many ships in one place.

I was very impressed with how well the officers and crew worked together on this part of the voyage. I got to watch the captain in full control and giving directions. Most of the time we were on auto pilot and needed only two men on watch. The captain was pretty impressive with how he both directed and instructed his junior officers.

Singapore Straights, the most crowded navigation channel in the world

 

My last full day was time to have a last walk around the ship and grab more photos. I dressed up in my blue coveralls, helmet and safety vest. By this time, the weather was pretty warm and I appreciated the slight breeze that comes when we are running around 20 knots.

Walkabout on deck

 

Bridge office

 

I really enjoyed the officers and crew. My thanks in particular to Mark, the steward and Fidel, the Admin Officer who handled all the paperwork for me. I hope their journey onward is as safe and free of problems as when I traveled with them.

My shipboard friends

 

Fidel and I

 

_______________________________

I put together a YouTube movie from my photos and videos. It runs a bit under 14 minutes. If you would like to see my 40 days and 40 nights, that is a shorter version of it, you can see it below.