Today we crossed the middle part of the Mediterranean; the area located above Malta. This brought us automatically on the Northern side of the sea as our next port of call, Montril, is located on the Southside of the Spanish mainland. Our last port Cagliari is a bit off the beaten path as far as shipping is concerned and thus for most of the night there was not much traffic. That changed in the early morning hours when we started to catch up with the various traffic flows, coming from or going to the Northern ports of Italy and Southern France. All that traffic has to bend around the South East point of Spain. So automatically all these ships that would normally be spread out all over the place have to come together to line up on this one south westerly course leading towards the Straits of Gibraltar. Traffic coming from there is doing the same thing the opposite way, and can only disperse in various directions as soon as they are past the corner. Now with the embargo placed against Libya and it’s no sailing zone south of Malta there is even more traffic pushed to the Northern side, so for the late morning and the remainder of the day there was a lot of traffic coming by.
Stock photo of the Jakarta Express, today when she passed us, she was sporting a black hull. I did my cadet period on a ship like this with the company that once was the cargo side of Holland America.
As it was a great day, sunny and nearly wind still so it was quite pleasant to be out and about, and to observe all these ships sailing by. We were in the company for a few hours of a big container ship on the port side, which was going only two miles faster than we were and thus needed quite a few hours to get past us and then ahead of us. Most container ships are controlled by a only few big company’s such as Maersk, MSC, CGM, Evergreen and this ship by Hapag Lloyd. This German company uses a naming system ending on Express, so as soon as we saw that it was a container ship with the name Jakarta Express we knew it was Hapag Lloyd, as the combination of Container and Express does not leave room for any other conclusion. By the time we will reach the Straits of Gibraltar we will see several of them, as the container company’s run their ships on regular liner services like clockwork so there are always a few going in and out, either on the Far Eastern route via the Suez Canal or on the local feeder service to the various ports around the Mediterranean.
The wind still weather did not stay very long. In the course of the afternoon a following wind started to blow and by 5 pm. it had reached a wind force 5 to 6. As it was a following wind and the ship was travelling with nearly the same speed, it was still very pleasant on deck. The weather forecast for the remainder of the day and coming night called for very windy weather but it indicates that by the time we come to Motril it will be past that port, and so we should be in for a good day. Tonight around 10 pm the wind is to veer to the South West and will then blow with about 40 knots until the early morning hours. Then it is forecast to diminish to about 20 knots near the port and it should also blow the rain clouds away. Motril is an up and coming port for the cruise business and until now most cruise ships are calling at Malaga which is a larger town, but Motril is a very good location for the tours to Granada and thus excellent for the Prinsendam. The Prinsendam has never been here before and thus I have been invited to City Hall for a presentation. The so called plaque exchange. The fact that they invite a cruise captain to City Hall indicates that the port really has an interest in developing the cruise business as normally you do not see that many politicians in my line of work. So I have prepared three ships plaques to exchange with the various dignitaries and representatives.
Motril is still a cargo port and does not have a cruise terminal as such. I do not even know at the moment where they are going to dock me, as it will depend on what cargo berth is available when we arrive. This is not much of a problem as the port is not so big and the tour buses can simply drive around the port when they see the ship docking somewhere.
So tonight will be a windy night, with the wind full on the bow and then tomorrow I am hoping that the wind will have blown itself out and taken then rains clouds with it.