The first day started with a meeting at the office. We were introduced to Frank and then received instruction on board. Including a practice run for me and Naji Algrmade, the Libyan captain. In the afternoon we started preparing the ship for sea and removed the car tyres around it. We slept on board that night: freezing cold! The ship has an excellent air-conditioning system but a heater was nowhere to be found.
The next day the rest of the crew came aboard and we could start loading stores and lashing down the tyres.
We left Gorinchem on Wednesday 21 December 2005. In Dordrecht we received all the documentation on board and could finally set sail for Misurata. At 19.00 hours local time we were outside the piers to begin the sea voyage and the so-called ‘horse hobbing motion’. Until midway in the Channel WSW 5/6, so straight ahead at only 4-5 nautical miles an hour. After two days of pitching and rolling, it improved and we could at last get up some speed. And we caught sight of our first dolphins.
We successfully pitched through the Bay of Biscay where we also celebrated Christmas. We had fantastic food. Ralph had really done his best. From that moment on, both the weather and the sea continued to improve.
After Finnistere, the most westerly point of Spain above Portugal, we followed the coastline southwards. Now that the weather was better, we had the opportunity to try out various pieces of equipment such as the water cannons and emergency steering gear. It was now also possible to do some painting work and the washing. The latter had to be done by hand because there was no washing machine on board.
Because we were smaller than 50 metres, we were allowed to pass through the inshore traffic lane here and there and this produced beautiful pictures such as here at Cabo Sao Vincente (Cape St. Vincent). Unfortunately the monastery’s siren had been removed so that the monks could only respond to our horn signals by waving.
We passed Gibraltar on Thursday 29 December 2005. Then turned south in the direction of the African coast so as to pick up the gulf stream as soon as possible. We pottered past Morocco/Algeria and Tunisia on the gulf stream with the wind behind us. This was the best part of the trip. We sometimes managed to get up to 9.5 knots at 900 revolutions and in this way succeeded in eventually slightly increasing our average speed over the whole trip to 7.8 knots. The New Year started in Morocco. No fireworks, no champagne but a pleasant baco and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
On Wednesday 4 January 2006, we lay at 10.00 hours local time between the piers of Misurata, water cannons on and the boat spick and span. We were ready and waiting! However, there was no sign of anyone from the client so we just moored and cleared up.
Customs & Immigration procedures went smoothly. There were no problems because the client had prepared everything meticulously. The day after our arrival we hung up the tyres once again. The Training of the future crew also went smoothly. There was a good atmosphere and the client was very helpful with everything.
In conclusion, where I was concerned, it was an entirely positive experience. We had an excellent crew, delicious food, no problems with the ship and a very pleasant relationship with the office/client and crew.
Deck officer: Ruud
Captain & Writer: Bart