Voyage HS Debussy (August – December 2014)

I joined HS Debussy together with my husband in the beautiful port of Valencia at the beginning of August 2014. As far as we had known before stepping on board, the vessel was engaged in a Mediterranean SeaEast USA Coast trade with two extra ports in Mexico and it was supposed to remain on the same route for at least 3 months, the duration of the charter with Hapag Lloyd. As our future was uncertain – starting with the beginning of November – I enjoyed the given route very much and I was looking forward to the perspective of one month anchoring as well. In the end, things didn’t come out exactly as I expected them to be, but much better.

The first part of the voyage passed very fast. We had very calm and beautiful weather for all the crossings over the Atlantic, fantastic weather inside the Gulf of Mexico and fair seas with moderate breeze and high temperatures in the Mediterranean area.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean on board HS Debussy (3)

Dolphins jumping around us while crossing the Atlantic

Perfectly calm weather while crossing the Atlantic

On the East and South East Coast of the USA, we had the pleasure of discovering some new territories along with some other old and familiar places in the Gulf of Mexico. After visiting the port of Miami with our last two vessels, HS Debussy offered us a slightly different scenery as it stopped 60 miles North of Miami Beach, in the beautiful Port Everglades.

Fort Lauderdale Beach (2)

Fort Lauderdale Beach (3)

After crossing the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying some of the calmest waters ever, we had the chance of taking part in some local fiestas on the streets of Veracruz where we admired people dancing and singing, dressed in beautiful traditional costumes.

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A little up north, we visited an ‘old friend’ – the port of Houston, but we failed once again in actually visiting the city, no matter how hard we tried. Unfortunately, Houston still means nothing else but two visits to the Seamen’s Club and to the Walmart supermarket and I only wish I would have a real opportunity to walk around the centre of the town or to visit the NASA building. Anyhow, I really liked and enjoyed approaching the port, as the vessel went up the Houston Ship Channel for ~ 4 hours, offering me the opportunity to watch lots of different birds, vessels, boats and tugs crossing our way from all directions.

Approaching Houston

Birdwatching approaching Houston

The most beautiful and interesting approach of the entire route was the one which took us ~ 9 hours up Mississippi River in our way towards the Port of New Orleans and the ~ 9 hours down river, on our way back. Although the entering maneuver was very tiring and stressful, we managed to go out of the port for a walk in the centre on a hot Saturday (read about our day in New Orleans here).

Under way to New Orleans - Mississippi River

Approaching New Orleans (2)

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We always love calling European ports, especially if they are watered by the Mediterranean Sea and HS Debussy offered us a wonderful display of Italian and Spanish landscape, with some ‘old acquaintances’ – Valencia, Barcelona, Voltri and Livorno – but also introduced us to the beautiful island of Sardinia where we visited its capital, Cagliari (twice) and another small like jewel town, Salerno, opposite the island, close to the Coast of Amalfi. We always enjoy visiting European ports because we find most of them more familiar, more like ‘home’. The food is always great ashore and mostly cheap, internet is available almost everywhere and we always enjoy closing our days in front of the TV, watching some of our favourite programs on the national Italian or Spanish Televisions.

Cagliari view from Torre del Elefante– Cagliari –

One round tour CagliariCagliari lasted 7 weeks and the vessel did two complete rounds until the charter finished and we were supposed to drop the anchor in the port of Cagliari, waiting for a new charter and a new voyage. Everybody was looking forward to a little break in the anchorage, a great opportunity for finishing some important jobs around the vessel, but also for evening fishing.

Since I started travelling on container vessels, I have waited for a chance of spending a longer period of time in the anchorage as I have always heard about great parties of fishing taking place in different seas around the world, when all the crew joined together for catching lots of fish and having a great time. Most of these fishing parties took place in the Indian Ocean and in the Persian Gulf and many seafarers told me great stories about huge captures which had filled the vessel’s stores with hundred kilos of tunas, dorados, mackerels, sword fish or sea food. The most amazing fishing party of my entire life took place in the Gulf of San Matias, in the anchorage of a small Argentinian port, while I was on board HS Liszt and the holy Easter week offered us a six day relax break, outside the harbour (read the story here).

I hoped we would get at least a few day anchorage outside the beautiful port of Cagliari until the vessel started its new trade with a new charter and everybody on board was looking forward to having this little break. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky to enjoy time in the anchorage, but all the changes came for the better and new territories were to be discovered. The vessel was engaged in another short charter which took us to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea – offering us the rare chance of visiting our home port of Constanta, along with Piraeus, Istanbul and one small port in Ukraine.

The weather was nice and calm most of the time while crossing from the Mediterranean Sea to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea, although sometimes foggy and rainy. I had the chance of crossing the Dardanelles Strait four times and Bosporus Strait twice under way to Istanbul and Constanta, but I experienced also some of the worst rolling ever (~ 40°) while crossing South of Peloponnesus, under way to Piraeus.

Transiting Dardanelles Strait– Transiting the Strait of Dardanelles –

Visiting Constanta was a happy opportunity for some of us to have families and friends on board for a few hours, while the other Romanian seafarers managed to make a short visit at home and bring back a lot of traditional goodies prepared by their wives and mothers (read the story here).

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The much desired time in the anchorage was offered to us by the port of Piraeus. It was not more than a few day break, but everybody on board was more than happy to try their luck fishing, in the portside shoulder. It was not the best fishing party of my life, but I really enjoyed sharing exciting moments with the crew – fishing a few kg of mackerel every evening and grilling it after that (read the story here).

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We didn’t have any passengers on board during our contract – because the charter did not allow it – but we had a very friendly crew with whom we enjoyed a few outside barbeque parties – with good food, music and karaoke – and the best Halloween party celebration ever.

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Suckling pig BBQ Party on board HS Debussy

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We even managed to involve half of the crew in a table tennis competition and the winner was rewarded with a chocolate cake, along with a few extra small presents (for him and all the competitors).

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During our four month and a half voyage we had the pleasure of celebrating a few birthdays on board and I never let those special days pass by unnoticed. I prepared birthday cakes for each and every one of the crew members (me included) and I was very happy to discover that a small cake and a ‘happy birthday greeting’ were enough to bring smiles on people’s faces.

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I always like to leave something behind on the vessels I travel with and HS Debussy happily received a few ‘gifts’ I made by hand during the voyage.

My project for the Recreation Room of HS Debussy

Working on knots frame

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Our voyage came to an end at the middle of December in the port of Genoa.

Approaching Genoa

I was a little sorry for leaving our crew behind – especially with the winter celebrations closing by – but we were really missing our home and family and we always love spending Christmas in the white surroundings of the Carpathian Mountains.

Before leaving the vessel I offered everybody a small ‘farewell’ gift – a crocheted Christmas decoration – and I even hang some of them in the Christmas tree from the Recreation Room.

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Thank you, HS Debussy, for offering me such a wonderful time on board and I am looking forward to seeing you again. I will definitely meet some of the crew members from HS Debussy on other vessels in the future and I hope we will still be able to enjoy a safe and pleasant voyage together.

 

Voyage HS Debussy 1st Charter:

 

Voyage HS Debussy 2nd Charter:

 

Voyage HS Bach 3rd charter:

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