entering straits of gibraltar from the atlantic side
"Attention to all deck hands please proceed forward for anchoring...I repeat all deck hands please proceed forward for anchoring..thank you."
Announcement made by the second officer had woke me up from slumber.I can heard footsteps and calls from the other crew going for anchor station outside my cabin.I grab my coverall and proceed to station.I met chief officer on the way.He said that im late and passed me a VHF walkie-talkie.
"Your doing the anchoring today.Captain personal request.I`m gonna watch you from behind.Can you do it..?"
"Well chief..im not gonna say yes but since the old man insisted then i`ll do my best chief."
"Right on lad.Show him what you got."
"which side of anchor we`ll be using chief..?"
"port side anchor.."
MT Malaysian Freedom is heading towards Gibraltar outer port limit anchorage. The view were outstanding. The Rock of Gibraltar can be seen clearly since there is no cloud but only blue sky when we arrive.. There are also ships which had already anchored there, mostly gas carrier and tankers. The current economic recession had cause many ships being laid up by shipping companies.
Our ship weren`t affected but the recent off hiring by the charterer had bring us here in Gibraltar.Well at least we have a picturesque anhorage area with the great rock as a background with summer still in the air.
"How long are we gonna be here chief..?"
"Not long..a month maybe..ahh the longer the better.Its been a long time since i had a break."
"Haha..hopefully not too long.."
The anchor party are now gathered at the forecastle.All of them wearing a complete personal protective equipment. The anchor lashings,bow stopper and the hawse pipe cover were removed by the crew.The boatswain had the anchor windlass power turned on.He engage the windlass gear and waited for the next order.
"go ahead forward..receive loud and clear...3rd how is thing forward..?" ask the master.
"we just finished clearing up the lashings for port anchor.anchor cleared away.awaiting your order sir.."
"alright..walkback the anchor to 1m above the water 3rd.."
"copy that sir..walkback anchor 1m above water.."
I signalled the boatswain to lower the anchor.He release the brake and walk bak the anchor. The hydraulic powered windlass effortlessly brought down the large steel with addition to its cable slowly to intended height.
"bridge to forward....anchor now 1m above the water..awaiting your orders sir.."
"copy that forward..standby.."
The ship moves slowly towards the anchorage. The engine speed has been reduce and the port control has been notified of our arrival at the outer port limit. Most of the time port control will give designated anchoring position which is clear and safe from other anchored vessels.The call from bridge had snapped me from daydreaming.
"forward..standby to let go port anchor..7 shackle in the water.."
"copy that sir standby to let go port anchor..7 in the water.."
I signalled the boatswain to standby.The gear has been disengage and the brake is on.Once the order to let go were given,the brake will be release to let go the anchor.
"ok forward let go port anchor.."
"copy that sir..let go anchor.."
The break is released and the anchor went down into the water followed by the cables. The speed of the release is regulated by the brakes although it is not practicable to do so since it will cause the brake to worn out much faster.
The bridge is informed every time the shackle were sighted. Continous monitoring on the shackle is made to ensure we didnt overshot from the intended length.
"forward to bridge...2 shackle in the water..up and down..."
"copy that forward..thank you"
Reaching the 7th shackle, bridge were informed and the brakes were put back on.The anchor cable were observed to determine whether it the anchor had been brought up or not.This is known when the cable change its nature from long stay to short stay which indicate the anchor is holding the ship on the seabed.
"forward to bridge..anchor brought up with 7 shackle in the water..direction 10 o`clock short stay"
"copy that..put the brakes on,disengage gear and secure forward...finish that then you guys can knock off...good job everyone."
"copy that sir..secure forward and knock off.."
The brakes were secured and the gear is then disengaged. Bow stopper and lashings is made fast by the crew while boatswain raised the anchor ball as day light signal to indicate other vessel that were at anchor.Hawse pipe cover were put back and secured to deny entry to the ship by person climbing the cable and trough the hawse pipe.
The ship anchored at the outer port limit 5.5 nautical miles from Europa Point. I count 8 other ships which also anchored at the outer port limit.Traffic in straits of Gibraltar is dense with vessels coming in and out from Mediterranean sea to Atlantic ocean and Europe while ferry service between Gibraltar and Tangiers in the African continent is frequent.
I head back towards the accomodation after having a final glimpse of forcastle and ensuring everything is in order. Chief officer is also with me and its also his responsibility to ensure everything is in good order.We walk together with the others to the accomodation and call it a day.
"its been a long time since i had european dunhill.."the chief said to me...
-come to sea and see for yourself-