Manager man said it’d be a quick job (and on reflection it was really). Hop on first plane out of London City to Rotterdam, look at ‘Hellas’, fly back to City by teatime. Bobby’s job?
Fog at City and all VLM flights to Holland ‘Idefinitely postponed’ . Nice lady at check in unchecked me in (I’d done it online the previous evening) so onto the DLR for some Oyster abuse and back to Bank. Walking along Moorgate at 0650 and I’m amazed at how busy it is with city folk readying themselves for another day of power broking and billion making. Didn’t realise they started so early. I suppose you can’t be a wealth maker and be a clock watching ‘nine a clocker’ at the same time.
Back to City in late afternoon and a teatime flight to Rotters. The cost of taxis in Holland never fails to pain me deeply but to get from Rotterdam airport to the city centre by public transport seems woefully difficult compared to the slick and well oiled ease of doing a similar manoeuver at Schipol. Pity. Eight minutes and 29 Euros later I left the taxi driver to book his 9th holiday of the year and buy a new Mercedes and checked into the Golden Tulip. There the second price induced heart attack of the day occurred. There was a film festival in town (in Rotterdam ? In January?) and the cheapest available room was a a mere 230 Euros!!. No wonder then that Dutch children are the happiest in Europe. They’re all getting ready to be the richest people on the planet with endless entertainment thrown in watching silly foreigners collapse at the knees every time the simplest transaction takes place.
After an evening meal which only cost the equivalent of a Ghanaian labourer’s yearly wage I went to bed, frightened to open the minibar in case it bankrupted me, and my employer and Maersk and BP and Shell etc etc.
The Hellas was 33 years old and was leaning in a slightly exhausted fashion against the Parkade quay. She’d been there for 6 weeks waiting for work. These are busy and lucrative times for tug owners, Hellas wanted in on the action but I could see why she was having to wait. Hastily applied garish topcoats don’t easily disguise years of abuse and underfunding by greedy owners. A wheelhouse full of strategically placed Crucifixes and blue tacked to the bulkhead, ‘Sailor’s Prayers’ didn’t do much to help matters either.
The crew were pleasant, and nice and a long way from their Fillipino homeland and didn’t like the cold grey Northern Europe climate (I’m with them on that one). Hellas had too few of things that I’d come to see and too much of what I hadn’t. Most glaring was a bollard pull certificate that claimed that her 33 year old diesels produced more bollard pull than a brand new vessel with 30% more power. It was ridiculous and shambolic and allegedly authenticated by the Hellenic Register of Shipping and one straw too many.
No work for that old girl then. I felt sorry for her crew, they wanted to sail away to somewhere nice and warm. I was all for that but not towing our stuff thank you very much. So it was back to City to break the news to those that were hoping that Hellas would get them out of a hole. It was more likely to get them into one.
Office for the rest of the week, tautline moorings are my current nemesis. That said, I may be off to Las Palmas to look at another tug at the weekend. Hope the taxis are cheaper there.