While in Semarang yesterday, I was informed that our berth in Tanjung Priok was going to be ‘tight’; what they failed to tell me was that it also involved backing down a narrow cut, with ships on either side. Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes, however I was certainly not prepared for the challenge ahead of me.
We made 18 knots from Semarang, more or less paralleling the north coast of Java, although we had to make detour for the numerous offshore oil and gas rigs that lie off the coast. An early morning and the sun rising, we approached the pilot station with the intent to board the pilot at 6:30 a.m.
Outside, the ships at anchor made the radars look as if they had a bad case of measles…..
Fortunately the approach channel was clear, this gave us a reasonable approach and all we had to deal with were ships leaving and numerous small vessels entering. We passed the pilot boarding point with no sign of the boat, nor the pilot, however they called us and we were informed to keep proceeding inwards and they would join us ‘soon’. Almost through the breakwaters and slowing down for the approach to the dock, he came up the ladder.
The pilot’s advice was, as expected, non-existent, other than him pointing out the basin where we would berth. Slowing down for a cargo ship which was berthing ahead of us and a dredger which decided to leave and come past us, we were left to our own devices, the Bridge team was going to be used to it’s fullest extent on this one.
The orange line is our track and these ‘plans’ are for your benefit, as we do not use these particular charts for navigation, however they are easier to convert for this blog.
As we got closer to our intended dock, the challenge of it became apparent; a narrow cut, made narrower by vessels alongside on both east and west sides and the space for our berth. Ahead of us would be a bulk-carrier and astern of us, an Iranian warship on a Goodwill visit. We are 240 meters long, (give or take), the space for us? around 260 and that’s being generous.
First we had to another wheelie and set us up for the leg down the basin. Officers on both sides of the bridge, ahead and astern, I gently swung her, until we were more or less central.
A switch to our ‘Joystick’, keeping Auto-heading and (very slowly) backing past the ships alongside. Some had their cranes outboard, (my thanks to the pilots for arranging that, not) 😈
Not in the plans is a heavy-lift ship, carrying massive container cranes, the booms of which would make quite a mess of our upper-works, were I to go too far south.
Eventually, I found myself where I wanted to be; opposite where I was meant to ‘park’, 10 meters out from the line of the ship ahead and astern. Now came the fun part, (I use the term loosely), getting her in there without an international incident, (I didn’t want Iranian Revolutionary Guards whisking me away), nor clobbering the ship ahead.
Information coming in from both ends as I continued to ease her in, “4 meters and closing” is not something one wants to hear, I wonder what Tehran’s like? 😯 .
After what seemed an age, alongside and an audible sigh of relief. Here are the photos.
Tied up and time to take some photos, none of the city, I’m afraid, not enough time and besides, my ‘roving reporters’ tell me that there was nothing worth gracing this page with. 😎
We sail at 6 p.m., bound for Singapore and the busiest shipping-lanes in the world; I may not have time to post for a couple of days, however will do my best, promise.