Serene and calm waters of the ocean are a blessing in disguise for the shipping fraternity all over the world. Otherwise rough weather, furious tides and the heavy monsoons ruin the pleasure of safe sailing.
Thanks to my husband- a captain in the Merchant Navy- I got a glimpse of what the business is all about. To start, many people wished me bon voyage, which is a goodbye to people going on a long sail! Many thought that Merchant Navy is like a cruise and that I would be sailing around the world. Spoiler alert! Its not that rosy and comfy as it sounds. And no, not all ships ‘cruise’ around the world.
The ship that I am aboard is called Jag Aanchal, a huge ship measuring 220m in length! It belongs to the Great Eastern Shipping Company and is on the Sikka-Mundra run. These are two ports in the Gulf of Kutch. So my ‘sailing experience’ is limited to only 2 hours at a go. But it’s not bad, as we are closer to the shore, we enjoy internet, mobile phones and other gadgets without which life would have been different.
Jag Aanchal is basically an oil tanker carrying various grades of diesel. You can compare it with a truck carrying diesel from one town to another, only difference been it sails, is heavier (thousands of tonnes) and is way more expensive, risky and complicated!
The experience that I am getting here is simply phenomenal. Even under pressure, people are very warm and friendly. And being a captain’s wife, I enjoy a lot of respect and attention. This sail has given me a chance of not only knowing what my husband does for a living but also to be disconnected (not really with the phone and internet) from the land and its people and enjoying some ‘me’ time.
The way this ship is built is such a mystery. It carries thousands of tonnes of diesel and has a boiler with high temperature, it is so overwhelming! I get scared hearing the amount of oil we carry and the temperatures and turbulence around. There is so much pressure that my husband has here, managing the ship and the crew. And yes, they have deadlines too, just like journalists. The only difference being theirs are closer to being dead!
When one says that I’m on the port, its not the ferry port we talk about. These ports are way inside the sea, 3-2kms and are connected by bridges and roads. Imagine such a big ship cant sail if the water is below 10m. I ‘landed’ once in my 18 days aboard and had to wait for umpteen number of port clearances and checks. But a walk on land after 15 days was worth it!
Now, we are heading towards Sikka to load the ship with diesel, only to get back to here, Mundra!!
(Keep watching this space, more stories coming up!)(Pics show some of the Great Eastern Company's ships)