Durban, South Africa to St Helena to Houston, Texas at 16 mph!

Durban Travel Blog

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View of Durban from the outer harbor. I think this was the new Durban football stadium being built for the world cup. This photo was taken in Sept. 2008 I believe.

This is my final blog about Africa at least until I return! I have always enjoyed traveling, taking photos, and enjoying the photos later by sharing with friends and making a few enlargements for framing. For me this is what's so great about TravBuddy. Just writing this blog has brought back a lot of fond memories and some not so fond. As of today one of my former shipmates and classmates in Merchant Marine School is on his way to Durban, Madagascar, and Mombasa and I have looked through my journal notes to get info to email him such as good taxi driver's numbers, restaurants, etc. I really like Travbuddy!

This voyage is the final leg of a long 146 day trip that was supposed to be 120 days. My contract was up after 120 days but we are still at sea and under the Captain's control until we return to a US port.

View of Durban from the outer harbor
At the begining of each foreign voyage the crew has to sign "Articles' with the captain agreeing to pretty much give him complete control over our lives, no US labor laws apply now!

This voyage began in Durban where we offloaded the last of our cargo of grain and cooking oil for the hungry people of Africa. The ship had a contract with the UN to deliver this food. Now our old ship was empty and we still faced the rough water rounding the southern tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet. Under full load this old ship had about 32 to 33 feet of the hull underwater which made for a smooth ride but empty we were only drawing about 18 feet and a few feet of the propeller stuck out of the water during each revolution.

View of Durban from the outer harbor
So first the engine room personal pumped the aft ballast tank full of sea water and the deck crew moved what weight could be moved in gear as far to the rear of the ship as possilbe. Now we were looking cool just like a "low rider" with the bow up and the stern down. After we left Durban the seas became so rough the captain was afraid our old rust bucket would fall apart so he slowed down (how much slower can you get than 16 miles per hour?) and moved well inshore so that we were able to see the coast of South Africa for several days plus we had a  cell phone signal. Once we rounded the tip, we headed on a more or less direct course for  Houston, Texas, a loooong way!

We only saw land twice during this time, the first time when we went to St Helena and the second time when we passed close by Jamacia (where we also got a cell phone signal and I was able to call my daughter in Hawaii-at great expense!).

View of Durban from the outer harbor
It was as if we had the whole ocean to ourselves. We didn't even see many other ships and no sealife except when we were close to land. In places the water was so calm the ocean looked like a lake and if we had been going fast enough to water ski, we could have thrown a line out!

It took forever, the ship was so slow I thought about naming the central theme of my blogs "Sailing Around Africa at 16 miles per hour". Today I can't remember the name of this TV show from the 70s or 80s about a space ship going to some far planet but the show was on for a few years and it never got to it's destination. Well the whole crew referred to this leg of the trip as the name of that TV show and it helped pass the time to have something new to complain about besides each other.

St Helena. Napoleon was sent here after Waterloo and died here in 1821. Longwood house is reputed to be one of the most complete Napoleon museums in the world.
We passed very close to the South America coast near where the Amazon River empties into the Atlantic. I had read that there is so much mud in the Amazon River water that it turns the water brown for miles out into the Atlantic and one of the mates told me that was true but we were a little too far out to sea to see any brown water to my great disappointment! We passed many of the Carribean islands but Jamacia was the only one we got close enough to see in the daylight. Finally we reached Houston where the ship loaded grain again to take to several countries in West Africa. At the completion of unloading in Africa, the old ship was to make it's way to the coast of Bangladesh where the crew ran it up on the beach where it was sold to the scrap merchants. In a way it was a little sad to see this old ship on it's next to the last trip before the scrappers cut her up!

For me this was a new adventure and experience and I greatly enjoyed it!

 

rcpilgrim says:
I am. In the GOM right now but our boat will be going to West Africa or the North Sea again later this year. I'm on a seismic research vessel.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2013
bigmac993 says:
Yeah,about the same as our old ship. I love it but in 2009 it got really slow so I took this job. Are you still sailing?
Posted on: Feb 01, 2013
rcpilgrim says:
Sounds all too familiar. Our trip back from Norway was at 14 knots. Top speed, Woohoo!
Posted on: Feb 01, 2013
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View of Durban from the outer harb…
View of Durban from the outer har…
View of Durban from the outer harb…
View of Durban from the outer har…
View of Durban from the outer harb…
View of Durban from the outer har…
View of Durban from the outer harb…
View of Durban from the outer har…
St Helena. Napoleon was sent here …
St Helena. Napoleon was sent here…
Me in my engine room uniform with …
Me in my engine room uniform with…
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena
St Helena. Jamestown,the main sett…
St Helena. Jamestown,the main set…
Jamestown, St Helena Island
Jamestown, St Helena Island
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
Land Ho! First land  we had seen…
"Land Ho"! First land we had see…
Calling my daughter in Hawaii from…
Calling my daughter in Hawaii fro…
The calm water off the coast of So…
The calm water off the coast of S…
My certificate showing that I have…
My certificate showing that I hav…
The engine control center
The engine control center
Me at the engine control center
Me at the engine control center
How do you drive this puppy?! Ac…
"How do you drive this puppy?!" A…
I am standing by one of the steam …
I am standing by one of the steam…
This is one of the oil fired boile…
This is one of the oil fired boil…
This is inside the boiler, actuall…
This is inside the boiler, actual…
Our engine utility person and myse…
Our engine utility person and mys…
Our 3rd engineer and our utility p…
Our 3rd engineer and our utility …
Behind our utility person are the …
Behind our utility person are the…
Oil tank control valves. The ship …
Oil tank control valves. The ship…
Water pumps for controling water i…
Water pumps for controling water …
 Now lets see, which one is bour…
" Now let's see, which one is bou…
Adjusting the critically important…
Adjusting the critically importan…
Cleaning the oil slag off the burn…
Cleaning the oil slag off the bur…
Engine monitoring gauges
Engine monitoring gauges
Starboard boiler
Starboard boiler
Me in Shaft Alley. The large pip…
Me in "Shaft Alley". The large pi…
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Durban
photo by: Sjoshie