Some Wins

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 23 Apr 2014 11:49

Alongside Fukuoka
Weather: mostly sunny, mild

Today started with a win. After donning my working clothes I went out on deck to see if I could get the genset going. I thought I might as well see if it would start before continuing to dismantle it, so I gave the start chord a pull, and, much to my surprise and pleasure, it started first pull. That allowed me to break out the vacuum cleaner which I had to plug into the 110V to 240V convertor (the genset is the former voltage and the vacuum cleaner the latter – such are the joys of global cruising). The voltage convertor was another piece of equipment I was concerned about, but when I turned on the vacuum cleaner it worked, which meant that the 110 to 240V convertor must have been working as well. Another win.

Now that the genset was working I decided to see if the printer would work. As previously reported, I had cleaned this out a few days ago. When I plugged it in the appropriate lights came on and it made its usual sounds as the printer heads zipped back and forth. But unfortunately this story does not have a happy ending. While the initial flashing lights and beeping noises were promising, subsequent testing when connected to the netbook revealed problems. T clearly needs more attention, but I will leave the printer for now as it is not a high priority. I have cleaned it out pretty thoroughly, so I figure there is not much more I can do to save it for now. Maybe in a few days when I have more time I will have another go at cleaning it.

The other job for the day was to start dismantling the wind vane. First I needed to turn Sylph around so that her stern was facing into the dock and not hanging out in the breeze. I had Justin, my fellow sailing Australian berthed on the adjacent dock, help me. With the light winds all went smoothly, so, after lunch, I spent the remainder of the day pulling the wind vane off. This is now all in pieces on the pontoon.

I have ordered a new Hydrovane and, with a little luck, it should be on its way from the UK in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow morning Jap is coming down to inspect the stern and help me decide the way ahead. It sure helps having a knowledgeable person to share one's problems with.

The final win for the day was reporting the collision to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). I had submitted a preliminary report to them on Monday through their website but had received no reply and, believing the issue to be time sensitive, I chased it up this afternoon with a phone call. The receptionist patched me through to someone from the Rescue Coordination Centre, and the person I ended up talking to was someone I had had the privilege of serving with in the Navy. The Rescue Coordination Centre was not in fact the right section, but it was nice to talk to my old colleague, and the matter has subsequently been passed on to the proper section for attention.

I am of course hoping that I will eventually receive some redress from the company that owns the MSC Asya, but I think there is a broader issue at stake here, namely the general level of competency in the fleet of commercial vessels. The day prior to leaving Korea the disaster with the ferry occurred not very far from where I was. I do not like to pass judgement on people prior to the proper investigations and inquiries, but it is hard not to judge the captain of the South Korean vessel very harshly. The behaviour of the captain of the Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, was equally reprehensible. And now there is my relatively minor incident to add to a very tarnished record. While I am of course upset by what happened to Sylph, and believe that Asya's management contravened the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea, and I also do not consider myself beyond reproach, my major concern is the way the Asya departed the scene after the collision without knowing whether I was safe or not. I can only assume that the Master was more concerned about his timetable than the small vessel his ship had just run down.

I am reminded of Joseph Conrad's novel, “Lord Jim”. Conrad, as an ex-merchant mariner, saw the British merchant marine as a bastion of civilisation, and the behaviour of the crew of the Patna contrasts with what was the norm of moral behaviour in the British merchant and other services of his era. The tension is played out in the conscience of a young English officer, Jim, serving on the Patna, who abandons ship along with all the other crew who have no morality whatsoever, leaving the passengers to their fate. It would seem the traditions of the British merchant marine and other commercial lines of long standing have long lost the battle with hard nosed commercial interests. While trade is good, and potentially can lift the quality of life for all, an unregulated market is, in my opinion, a moral disaster.

Now for some study in metaphysics.

All is well.