Voyage HS Columbia

HS Columbia

It’s quite sad for me to write about my voyage on board HS Columbia two months after the vessel was sold for scrap to an Indian buyer and probably already dismantled and cut to pieces. As a matter of fact, it’s very sad for me to admit that my ten year adventure on board Hansa vessels has come to an end due to the company’s closure and my future as a wife companion on board looks very unsure.

Anyhow, I am glad my last voyage on board a Hansa vessel offered me lots of beautiful moments which I will always treasure and it offered me the chance to meet new people and even befriend some of them. This voyage represents the end of an era for me ( 13 vessels within the same company) and the closure of a circle for my husband ( HS Columbia was the first vessel for him when joining this company in 2007 and the last vessel, as well, 10 years later).

My voyage on board HS Columbia began on the 2nd of October 2016, when my husband and I joined the vessel in the port of Laem Chabang, Thailand.

Joining the vessel in Thailand introduced me (us) to a first ever visa problem since we started travelling (working) on board container vessels. For the first time ever, we arrived at the Immigration Office in the airport of Bangkok without a valid seafarer visa. As Romanians, we were entitled to a visa on arrival (as tourists), but a return ticket was needed for that and we didn’t have it. So, after almost 2 hours of negotiating, out agent won the case, we received the entrance permits and the nice lady working as an Immigration and Custom Officer allowed us to have her photo, as souvenir.

HS Columbia

Everything went well in the end because our agent proved he had done his homework – he had sent the necessary papers prior to our arrival – but some local clerk failed to do his. I am happy to say that this was the only problem we had to face during our 3 months and 3 weeks contract.

HS Columbia was the biggest vessel I had ever stepped on – 300m long, 40m wide and a capacity of 5000 containers – built in Korea, in 2001. It was in a good shape, the exterior looking really great, although a little uncomfortable for the crew – smaller cabins, smaller bridge, no swimming pool, a small gym, but the biggest, most beautiful and best equipped Officers’ Recreation Room I had ever seen.

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

The vessel was under CMA CGM charter with a trade covering a few ports in China – Qingdao, Tianjin, Nansha and Shanghai – three ports on the East Coast of India – Chenai, Krishnapatnam and Visakhapatnam – Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia) and Pusan (South Korea).

The trade was not very interesting for me, but quite safe and calm for Christian, with long passages and fairy good weather.

The crew included 6 Romanians (including us), 12 Filipinos, one Serbian, one Lithuanian and 3 Montenegrins. Two of them were ‘older friends’ – the cook, whom we met on HS Scott (my first Hansa vessel), ten years ago and who acted like Neptune during my Crossing the Equator Ceremony and baptism and the bosun, whom we met 2 years ago, on board HS Bach and who would become our dear host, friend and guide during our visit on the island of Bohol, in the Philippines.

HS Columbia -With steward Pepe, on board HS Scott, in 2007-

HS Columbia -Baptism ceremony on board HS Scot, in 2007-

HS Columbia -With chief cook Pepe, on board HS Columbia, in 2017 –

HS Columbia-With bosun Jun, on board HS Columbia-

HS Columbia-With Bosun Jun, in Bohol, visiting Chocolate Hills-

Life on board was pleasant and fun for me, as I had all the time in the world to enjoy my hobbies to the fullest – reading, taking photos, walking around the vessel, baking cakes for special occasions or for no reasons at all, organizing a baptism ceremony and observing everyday activities like drills, maneuvers and rounds on deck.

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

As table tennis is one of my favourite sports, I took all the opportunities, accepted all the challenges and played a few times a week, even with a 2 meter swell which made us jump continuously from one side to another, but brought in more fun than ever. We even had the chance of competing with some very good players during a tournament which involved 12 members of the crew – as players – and almost all the others – as spectators. The championship lasted for 3 days and it ended with a party where small gifts and diplomas were offered to the winners and cakes were served to everyone’s content.

HS Columbia

During the month of December, I was very glad to be in charge of decorating the vessel, but I couldn’t have done that without the help of our 2 Romanian cadets and of another female companion – a Romanian officer who had joined us at the beginning of the month. Together, we decorated 5 Christmas trees and all the common spaces around the vessel – the bridge, the Recreation Rooms, the Mess rooms, the ship office. We also organized the Christmas Eve barbeque dinner – with Santa Clause and gifts for everyone – the Christmas festive lunch and the New Year’s Eve party, in the Officers Recreation Room. During these parties we enjoyed delicious food – prepared by our talented chief cook – we sang karaoke and listened to music in a calm, serene and friendly atmosphere.

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

HS Columbia

 

During this voyage, I had very few opportunities to go outside for a walk, but I am mostly happy I got the chance of doing Christmas shopping – in Qingdao, Tianjin and Pusan – to fill Santa Clause’s bag with presents for the crew.

The only port where we could enjoy a real walk was the indian port of Visakhapatnam where we could go out twice, visiting around for a few hours.

HS Columbia

On board HS Columbia I had the privilege of meeting Jason, the company crewing manager, the man who made my 13 voyages on Hansa Shipping vessels possible, the man who provided the necessary papers, organized my flights and even paid for them. I will be forever grateful to him as he helped me and my husband live our dream together, sailing as a team and spend more time together. Thank you, Jason.

HS Columbia

Now, as the end of my voyage coincide with the closure of this company, I am twice sadder as before, but yet more grateful for all the gifts I received during the years and more confident for the future. I am grateful for all the beautiful moments I lived on board, for the amazing people I met and for the most secluded and unknown places which were unveiled to me while sailing on board Hansa vessels. I just hope this chapter is not closed forever, but just chose to stay dormant for a while. We are looking forward to a rebirth and we are ready to join the company again, when the time will come. In the meantime, we have to try new horizons – new companies – because this is our call, our job and everything we know. Until next time, so long!

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