March 2006

Freighter Grimaldi Grande San PaoloFreighter Grimaldi Grande San Paolo

Ahoy!

Grande San Paolo, a Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) freighter of 56,700 tons, length 214 meters, width 32.5 meters, 19 knots (32 km/h). Crew: Italians, Indians, Romanians. Languages spoken on board: English, Italian.

Loading capacity via the stern and on deck totalling 3,525 vehicles and 1,321 containers.

For the passage, we required health insurance, a medical certificate and yellow fever vaccination.

Hamburg, March 15, 2006: In front of "Schuppen 48" visitors' data were checked and logged. Accompanied by a port authority vehicle, we drove to our freighter of the Grimaldi line.

Itinerary: Antwerp, Le Havre, Bilbao, Casablanca, Dakar, Banjul, Conakry, Freetown, then crossing the equator on April 2, Salvador de Bahía, Vitoria, Rio, Santos, Zarate.

Crossing the Atlantic on a freighter was a new experience to us. When we stopped at ports, containers we unloaded and loaded. There were trucks, passenger cars (new and old), building machinery, steel, tires - hard to believe that all that stuff travels over the oceans of the world. In Zarate alone, 2000 vehicles were unloaded (mainly Fiat and Ford) and then 600 (VWs) loaded again.

Due to the great number of freight movements by port workers, the security risk (burglary or damage) was high for Robusto, particularly in the African ports. The whole crew was on alert, in order zu prevent theft and unwanted passengers from hiding on board. Amigo would have been of use as a guard dog, but dogs were not allowed.

Our berth, the owner's berth, on deck 12: Living room with a desk, a sofa, an armchair, a coffee table, refrigerator, a bed room with a double bed, wardrobes, TV (unfortunately out of order). Bath room with toilet, bath tub/shower. Washing machine & dryer, which we were allowed to use.

A typical day on sea: We were hardly ever seen at breakfast at 7.30am, since we usually did not get up before 10am. Lunch at 12pm. Giovanni spoilt us with his Italian cooking. Drinks were available for sale on board, but we also had our own supplies on Action Mobil Robusto. Dinner was served at 6pm already, which made the nights much longer.

Our activities: studying Spanish, reading, watching the sea and the sky with binoculars from the bridge and closely observing the manoeuvres when entering port.

After the icy cold in Hamburg, the region near the equator allowed for sunbathing and we enjoyed the tropical and humid heat.

Our stays in the ports of Bilbao, Salvador, Rio und Zarate allowed for only short but nevertheless memorable visits on land (Copacabana).

After 33 days on sea - always calm - we finally drove Action Mobil Robusto onto land again - healthy, ready to go and full of exited anticipation. Now it is us again, who have taken the helm. We are looking forward to South America.

Edy and Brigitte

Photos

Europe - Argentina: March 2006