Bilbao - ZeebruggeDAY 2-4

- by Filip and Joke

- Thursday, July 27, 2023, Zeebrugge

In a few hours we will dock in the outer harbor of Zeebrugge. The slightly longer than anticipated voyage is almost over. The weather has changed since last night to fierce wind (6 Beaufort) from southwest, rain in the first part of the day and firm (but relatively short) waves. MV Finneco II continues to sail calmly. At sea there is not much to see. No dolphins, a single gannet, and, of course, a fair amount of shipping. The limited visibility obscures many ships from view. We could barely make out Cap Griz Nez and Cap Blanc Nez. We occupy ourselves with some study work, reading in "The boundless Sea" by David Abulafia (a thick peat on the human history of the oceans with a few appropriate chapters on Spain, England, Flanders and Holland during the 14th to 17th centuries).

The night before last, the second officer invited us to the bridge.

A watchman passed on the invitation and escorted us to C deck. There a full-width empty space awaited us with the necessary equipment to keep a ship afloat. We approached the Ouessant traffic station, where a single ship from the southern route (such as the Finneco II) joins the busy traffic in the Western Channel. We talk about the trip, the itinerary, the ship, the cargo, watch common dolphins and shearwaters chasing plankton and fish, and about Hanko, Finneco II's home port. Time flies and as the sun disappears behind the horizon, we return to our cabin.

We also asked if we could have a tour. Yesterday after lunch the second officer was waiting for us to visit the bridge and explain the equipment, safety, course, etc. We are sailing near Guernsey in the English Channel. Progress is slow (10 knots, about 18.5 km/h; cruising speed is 20 knots) because we are assigned a quay in Zeebrugge later than originally planned.

After the bridge, we walk through the living quarters of the 23-member crew with galley, relaxation room, gym, and staterooms.

The standard white walls have been given their own touch by the crew in the sauna room (a legally required facility on a Finnish ship). Then we descend to the engine room where the second engineer leads us around a maze of corridors, stairs and spaces.

Two giant Hyundai engines with more than ordinary long shafts keep the propellers going. The sound is deafening. We discover that Finneco II can dock 7 h autonomously in port thanks to a mass of Tesla batteries, that the ship has 100 kw of solar panels, that the dirty water is purified before discharge, that ballast water is filtered (a measure to prevent the spread of non-native species), that diesel is fired in port and heavy fuel at sea, and that the exhaust gases are washed with seawater to rid them of NOx and SOx components. We are asked how much our trip now costs and what motivates us to travel so slowly.

But soon we were at the quayside. Admittedly with an 11 h delay, due to crowds at the docks and the fierce Southwester near Zeebrugge. Typical! The story is over. We are very happy about it and can start another year of work with recharged batteries.


- day 1July 24, 2023

first day
container ship surveillance room with cameras