Home > Cargo Ship Journey > Journey on the Grande Francia

Journey on the Grande Francia

Saturday 27 November to Monday 6 December

Africa

A bar in Dakar!

Last week and a half has been a long journey with no internet or phone access and pretty much no land or anything else to be seen from the ship. After Dakar in Senegal, we stopped in Conakry (Guinea) – the security level was raised because of the civil rest going on right now and we couldn’t have gone ashore there. We could have gone ashore on Freetown (Sierra Leone) but for the Immigration officer at the port who was missing! Both Conakry and Freetown were sights I have not seen (whatever I could spy from the ship with some binoculars). Great deal of poverty and desolation around in Conakry. From afar when approaching, Freetown seemed like a beautiful European port with houses built all up the slopes from the beaches. When we neared though I saw massive slums built on the shores and out as far as the waves would allow. Great disappointment at not being able to go exploring. Even if the immigration officer had turned up (in which case I would definitely have taken the risk) the ship’s officers and crew advised very strongly against going ashore in Freetown.

 

Offloading cars in Conakry

Cluis looking out at Freetown

Freetown at sunset

Crossing the Equator (02/12/10)

Bridge Dashboard at the Equator

Having been told by the security officer that there is a procedure when crossing the equator, the passengers were quietly confident that there will be a special dinner, or tour if not a party. As we got closer to the equator however, no invitations materialised. In the end we the passengers made our own little drinks evening in the passengers room and at midnight which is when we passed the equator, there was no one left to celebrate so we went up to the bridge and asked the duty officer to show us the latitude/longitude monitor. The night before however the Filipinos had put up quite an impromptu party on the port side with handmade lanterns, a disco ball and  some music. It was a beautiful night with a strong breeze and we all danced till past midnight. If the crew didn’t have to wake up early next morning for Conakry, the party would have gone on till the sun rose.

Gems in the sea

I have never really thought about it before because I have never spent this much time with so much water around me but the sea looks different each day. The colours change and the way the sun reflects on it gives an impression of gems appearing in the ocean. From the murky grey waters full of jellyfish in Freetown to the deep turquoise of the coast in Dakar; from the opaque inky black off the coast of Conakry to the velvet blue of the doldrums. When the sun rises in the east, a giant triangle of gold seems to flow out of it into the sea and to the ship. At sundown – when we have taken to having a ‘sundowner’ with Klaus and Christiane – the sun spills silver all the way to the ship. And in between when the sun is right above me, when I look down at the sea and where the sun hits the water, thousands of diamonds appear. Water’s colour, quality, swell, movement and reflection have never featured very heavily in my thought process before this voyage.

8 days at sea

Impromptu deck party thrown by the crew

Last entire week has been spent in the middle of the ocean with very little to look at. All the wildlife, ships, fishing vessels and anything else disappeared very early last week. Time stopped and at one dinner time, not one of the 11 passengers could say for certain what day of the week it was. Nicolas (the cook) continued to dish out Italian food every lunch and dinner time. We soon worked out the weekly menu – handmade pizza on Saturday, fresh pasta on Tuesdays and Thursdays and beef at each main course. I lie. Yesterday we had crayfish for lunch and chicken for dinner but generally nine times out of ten, we eat beef for the meat course! IN the middle of the 8 days, Marianne and Albrecht started to get cabin fever and after a few days I too felt that I could do with something other than reading and table-tennis. None of the passengers seem to want to play chess/scrabble/cards etc. This boredom was very short-lived (for me anyway) as I put it into perspective. When again will I find myself right in the middle of the Atlantic ocean eating four course meals and glorious sunshine beaming down at me? Talking of the weather, last few days have been really blustery. Strong enough winds to hold you in its arms should you want to give it a a go and fall on it. Careful though that a strong blast doesn’t slap you on the deck on your face! I miss a few things already though, apart from friends, what I most miss is food. There is such a lack of variety of it onboard as Nicolas only cooks Italian fare and as much as I love ITalian food, it’s beginning to loose its appeal. Not to mention the daily consumption of beef – I don’t know if I will be able to enjoy the superior Argentianian variety for a few weeks after I get off.

Apartment in BA

After a number of emails backwards and forwards to the agent in Buenos Aires and losing the original apartment (could not send deposit from the ship as it needed to be Western Union transfer), we have managed to confirm an apartment in Palermo. Looks good from the photos but will have a better idea once in there!

Approaching S America

Just finished lunch and went out on the deck and I can see the outline of land. Welcome to South America. We will hug the coast line till we reach Vittoria. Very exciting. Three weeks and as many continents!

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  1. Rob G
    December 9, 2010 at 09:07

    You mean you didn’t tarred and feathered when you crossed the equator? I’m disappointed!

    Sounds like you’re having fun though. Very jealous.

  2. December 4, 2011 at 10:04

    What a well written piece!

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