Are sailors creative?

Well, in time of emergency - all ports in a storm as you say. Today, at sea we are filled with technology and long distance support in many ways. But once in a while, you have to mobilise your old school Seamanship to solve a high-tech problem. Once, when sailing across the Pacific Ocean, we experienced this the hard way. Steadily steaming ahead in a large container vessel we were contacted by our colleagues onboard another container vessel from the same company sailing a couple of miles behind us. They were facing huge technical trouble with one of their Super-freezer containers, containing fresh tuna for the Japanese market and worth A LOT of money! They were close to having solved the problem but had run out of coolant liquid to fill up the cooling machinery. As you do not pass any stores across the Pacific, where you can purchase such thing, they were now at their wit’s end.

We checked our stock of coolant liquid and offered to donate this to the other vessel. Now the thing is that two 350 meters long and 43 meters wide vessels do not just get alongside in the middle of the ocean. We, therefore, had to go to our creative corner and find our inner engineer. Take a minute and think what you would’ve done in such situation? As you can imagine, one idea was better than the other, though one prevailed. What we did, was to build an old fashion wooden raft, floating on top of 4 big empty plastic drums, which we painted neon yellow/orange. We then tied the bottles with coolant liquid to the raft and slowed down the speed for the other container vessel to catch up with us.

As the other vessel approached us we lowered the raft with the coolant liquid into the Ocean, as they launched their MOB-boat into the water. We gave them the exact position over the radio and as we moved away from the raft, we could see that the crew in the MOB boat collected the bottles, dismantled the raft, returned to their vessel and was recovered back onboard.

Mission accomplished! - and this was a nice deviation from the 10 day long, and boring, sea passage across the Pacific.

Dorthe Merete Carlsen, Former Chief Officer