Skip to main content

EXPEDITION

On April 28, 1947 the rather tired looking Peruvian Navy tug "Guardian Rios" towed an extraordinary looking object out of Callao Harbour, Peru. A closer inspection showed it was a collection of balsa logs lashed together with ropes made of jungle fibre. On top sat a straw hut and just forward of it was a single pole mast to which was fitted a simple square sail rolled up. A long steering pole aft projected well astern and this whole contraption looked extremely crude and ready to fall apart. Some six Europeans stood on deck checking everything and looking concerned at the tugs progress. Some 50 nautical miles later out in the Humboldt Current after some signalling, only one of the Europeans spoke Spanish, the tug cast off the raft as it turned out the contraption was. So finally the sail was lowered to show a large face and the Kon-tiki Ekspedisjonen was now underway. The voyage so well known needs nothing further from NAUTICAL LOG, and of course a book was written, in Norwegian. In March 1950 an English language translation was published and for my 14th. birthday that year I received a copy from my parents. It was a great story, which is still in my bookcase, and just the adventure to whet the appetite of a boy planning a career at sea. Well so I thought at the time anyway!!

Since that time there have been many voyages around parts of the world and indeed around the world itself. Some well known and successful but far more than are usually discussed end in tragedy. We have the successful passages of Francis Chichester, "Dove", The Volvo Ocean Race and also the losses of Fastnet and Tasman. More recently we have had the "Junkcraft" passage from Los Angeles to Hawai'i, "Mystery" from Cornwall, England to Melbourne, Australia and now the proposed "Plastiki". With this latter name there seems to be an influence of the "Kon-tiki" but at least they left the hyphen out.

Well I did go to sea some two years after reading the "Kon-tiki Expedition" and a whole lot more sea stories. Over a career that lasted some 50 years I learned that there was a lot more than just building a raft and setting sail. The sea is an unforgiving mistress and will bite back hard if not treated with great respect and knowledge. I also learned that many countries have ocean rescue services and Coast Guards which go to sea when things really fall apart for seafarers. We forget all too quickly that these guys and gals also have families and they set out in appalling weather with the very clear understanding that there is quite a high probability they may not return. Here I speak from direct experience having had the honour to serve with such people for part of my career. Also there are agreements to direct ships from their normal course of trade to assist other vessels at sea. This is done most willingly and with pride in this great tradition of the sea. However it is done often at great expense to a shipowner and should not be considered a "right" due ocean passage makers on private expeditions. Shipowners are required to obtain Certificates of Seaworthiness and Marine Insurance Certificates before proceeding to sea.

In reading of the "Plastiki" for example on their website there were several comments, most rather supportive but I suspect not from knowledgeable seafarers. One was downright harsh and described Mr. de Rothschild as a "self-indulgent twit". This was rather rude of the commenter but expresses a viewpoint, it is a somewhat self-indulgent expedition. One might well argue that Mr. de Rothschilds money is his own to do with that which he wishes and this is true up to a point. When the spending of that money affects other people to the degree that this project could then there is surely a duty to assess that impact and provide for it. It is very important that these types of private planned ocean passages are done in coordination with the National Maritime Authority. Safety is Paramount and a Certificate of Seaworthiness should be obtained, also the vessel and the entire expedition must be fully covered by marine insurance. Then should they need assistance or even rescue by a National Rescue Service the costs of such assistance will be fully reimbursed by the expedition's insurance. It is clearly quite unfair to expect the taxpayer to pay for a private expeditions rescue, particularly in the current economic conditions.

Good Watch

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HOW TO WEAR A LIFEJACKET

A popular U.S.-based cruise ship style
A popular European ferry style

Several times during the year NAUTICAL LOG has had visitors searching for lifejacket instructions. With two just over Christmas we decided to publish something for everybody to see and read.
Choose a Coast Guard approved life-jacket and make sure it is undamaged. Make sure life-jackets are readily accessible, never locked away. Check the fit, there are adult, child and infant sizes, the correct one MUST be used. Choose bright colour life-jackets so as to be seen easily by Search and Rescue (SAR).Put your life-jacket ON BEFORE you leave the berth. Make sure you have a light and whistle attached AND they BOTH WORK.
Good Watch

ISM CODE - AUDITING

Ships now operate under the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (ISM Code).  Since this is a Post on Auditing NAUTICAL LOG, who is a Trained Auditor, will not go through the requirements as these can be found on the Internet and in your local nautical bookshop - you do have a bookshop hopefully as they are a dying breed.  There are two types of Audit an External Audit and an Internal Audit.


The External Audit consists of the Flag State or an outside Auditing Firm coming into the Company and going through all the Protocols, Procedures and associated Manuals.  They may also hold a drill simulating a situation in one of the Company's vessels and observe the results of the Shore Staff dealing with it.  NAUTICAL LOG has been through this experience with two very different Companies and believe me it is a long, difficult, trying day not made any easier by the subsequent debrief.  The External Auditor then prepares a Report which causes a…

AN tSEIRBHIS CHABHLAIGH

This month saw the commissioning into the Irish Naval Service of a new Class of Irish Naval vessel more of the Frigate size than the previously Corvette size.  However they are all classed as Patrol vessels, the new vessel is LÉ Samuel Beckett P61.NAUTICAL LOG wishes her well and a successful service.


The older vessels saw unbelievable service and value for money the first being commissioned in 1979 and continued through the '80's and 90's into the 21st. Century.  During those years in addition to patrolling the stormy seas around the rugged Irish coast they made passages across the Western Ocean to the United States and Canada, south to South America as far as Argentina, and east to Asia as far as Korea.  Such passages are really remarkable for such small vessels and show the competence of Irish seafarers who as Naval Officers and Merchant Marine Officers train together.

Good Watch.