Yesterday morning we woke up after making landfall around midnight at the Christmas jetty, and soon we were preparing to ‘do our stuff’. Supercargo Inna, all charged, went ashore to run her errands. Captain Brad started instructions for Mate Michael and crew while waiting for stevedores to show up. Then the bad news started pouring in. Offices were not open, KPA stevedores were on leave, and, worst of all, no empty drums were to be obtained until after the festivities of Independence day. The loom of a two day wait… and now, 24 hours later, we are all loaded and ready to go! How does he do it, time and again, Lucky Brad Ives, Master of Deep Water Ventures.
With a few stevedores, and all hands in the hold, during the day we managed to discharge all the consigned cargo that was left on board during our last flash visit (remember the issue with BBC NORDLAND). After dinner it was time to start loading drums of fuel inside the hold. Around 21 pm the order was given to close the hatch, just in time for the tropical rain. Soaked to the bone, we were working till midnight to load drums of petrol on the deck.
Because it is not safe to spend the night alongside, we had to return to our anchorage. With only four tired crew members on the ship, this turned out a tricky challenge. After casting off the stern line, the aft spring line was slipped. The off-shore breeze was stiffening, and the Kwai was set off the jetty fast. I ran up to the bow line that was already taught. Michael and me watched the shore crew trying to cast off the heavy bow line. More and more line was slipped, until we reached the last 3 feet of line. I decided to make fast the bow line on the forward bollard, while Brad was trying to turn the ship into the wind and steam up to the jetty. All in all a risky operation because Brad had no visual of the jetty and had to rely on my indications through vhf radio. It felt like the climax of the day when finally I saw the splash of the line dropping into the water. We were set free!
Today, Sunday, we are loading an unexpected charter of a hundred boys and girls that are participating in the annual inter-island soccer competition. So instead of going South, we are doing one more run on Fanning island. Opportunity sometimes interferes with our strict schedule.