Saturday, May 10, 2008

25˚15’33”N and 55˚16’09”E, Port Rashid

There's a ship called Ariana out on the high seas now. It will eventually arrive in Dubai to pick up fifty boxes with my name on them.

The thought that my stuff is going by sea – something I haven’t had a chance to do yet – fired up my ever-ready enthusiasm for all things boat-like and my rep at the shipping company has collected a few dinner party stories. She thinks I'm especially neurotic about my possessions. First I wanted the name of the ship, then I wanted to know how big it was, how fast it went and where it's coming from. I did stop short of asking for a nautical chart and how much draught it needed, but it was close. All I got was the name and I'm not at all sure I wasn't fobbed off with any old thing (if she thinks I don't check the ship listings, she's going to be thinking differently soon).

Then I did some intense cajoling to be allowed to watch the loading. She spent a lot of time assuring me that every care would be taken of my cargo, disregarding my assurances that I wouldn't notice if they tipped the whole lot over the side. When she realised I'm not easily dissuaded when I really want something, she thought fuck this and went for the nuclear option – "security clearance".

I wanted to ask her whether she knows that the anchorage is poor, so the ships need to play out more chain when dropping anchor. Well I do, so there. And much use it is to me. I've watched the activity in the port from my office tower almost every day for the past six years and I still haven’t managed to find someone who can get me in. I did get in once during one of my walks, slipped in through an open gate in the shadow of the container giants. I was escorted out after a blissful five minutes.

I won't be going down to the docks this time either. I won’t see the pilots bring her in, though I know exactly how far away they will board her – I've seen hundreds come in – but at least I have representation this time. My shoes and bags alone are worthy ambassadors, and that's only a quarter of the boxes.

For two more days I will live with their echoes and then I will be gone too, though sadly not in a cargo ship.

*Coordinates of the port control tower.


Thom said...

Hmm. Brother: planes. Sister: ships. Father: trains.

Now I just need to hear that your mom is a closet automobile enthusiast and I'll believe in God.

nzm said...

This could be the ship.

Good luck with your move. I've been a lurking reader of your blog for some time now and will continue to be so!

Gargoyle said...

Oh my God! That could so be the ship! Thanks NZM. I lurk on your blog too.

Krishnan Menon said...

Once you have moved to India, go to Chennai for a weekend and I will get Avi to get the clearances and you can go aboard the Maersk Car Carrier that he is first mate on.

Krishnan Menon said...

NZM that is such a cool website. Thom, have you checked it out. Sad it doesnt track the APAC ports and shipping lanes though.

nzm said...

Krishnan, yes it is.

Now the following information will make you think that I'm some kind of nerdy shipwatcher, but I assure you that I'm perfectly normal! lol.

Most ports have an online roster of which ships are in port. For instance, I'm currently based in Melbourne, Australia and the Port of Melbourne has sites where I can see the cargo ships and cruise ship movements. (which I can also see out my window btw, but I like to know which ship is which!)

Dubai Trade gives info about ships in port and also which ships are due to arrive at both Ports Rashid and Jebel Ali.

With some Googling I can generally find info about any ship. That's why I've been puzzled about why I haven't been able to find any info on the 2 ships that were purportedly arrested after recently damaging the undersea internet cables supplying Dubai.

So far, I've been able to find very little about MV Hounslow and MT Ann. Usually I can find ships' movements, owners and even photos by Googling, but with these 2 ships, I can't find anything.

Ok, I'll admit to being a conspiracy theorist!

Gargoyle said...

NZM, I agree about the two cable-cutters! I spent a lot of time looking too and couldn't find anything. Though I suspect it may not be any more sinister than just wanting to "make an arrest", more's the pity.

Kichu, I forgot about Avi! Can I really get on his ship?

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