- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

16 June, Gibraltar

Thus we arrived bright and early at the Gibraltar pilot station. The weather was quite miserable with rain squalls all over the place. The pilot was nicely on time and from the pilot station it was only two miles to the dock. By 6 am, the ship was safely docked and the gangway out, awaiting the local authorities. We were also awaiting our bunker barge who had promised to there at 6 am. but was nowhere to be seen. Then the pilot pointed out a barge still alongside another ship. That was our barge, still working at the other ship

We got the agent on the phone to inquire. At the same time the pilot had some issues with a cargo ship behind us. At 6 am. there was only one pilot on duty, thus he spaced the ships 30 minutes apart. This cargo ship however had, or feigned to have, problems with understanding the instructions of the pilot. He was told to proceed, slowly, very slowly to the pilot station. 5 minutes later he reported that he was already there.

Pilot: Captain, I told you to go slow, very slow, am I still on the other ship.
Captain: yes, I am at the pilot station, pilot ladder ready, where are you ?.
Pilot: Captain you have to wait, I am still on the other ship.
Captain: yes I am here at the pilot station, I am doing 2 knots.
Pilot: Captain, stop the engines and float, I will be there shortly.
Captain: yes I have my engines going, where are you, I am going to the dock.
Pilot: no you are not going to the dock. I want you to drop anchor with one length out and hold position.
Captain: yes, I proceed slowly on my way.
Pilot: Wait I am on the way to you ………………….
…………at this time the pilot left the Veendam and the conversation stopped.

Our bunker barge made it to the ship by 08.30. so all our efforts, including me getting up extra early, where for nothing. When the barge came alongside, the chief engineer asked him why he was so late. He was then told in no uncertain terms, that if the Veendam had been docked by 6 am., the bunker barge would have been there………………..so it was all our fault. However we managed to load our fuel on time. Also by 9 am. The weather cleared and it became a beautiful sunny day. Sail away here is very interesting to the guests, as part from the Rock looming over the ship, there are all the ships at anchor, which we pass by very closely. If you have never seen a super tanker before in your life, then these ships close by are an amazing sight. Gibraltar is used by a lot of ships for loading fuel. One very large tanker is at anchor in the middle of the bay and the bunker barges collect the fuel from this tanker and bring it to their clients anchored in the bay. When leaving from the passenger terminal you have to sail past all these ships and that provides a very interesting spectacle.


  1. Good morning! Any chance you would consider taking some pictures to go along with your blog? Your description of this port is intriguing!

  2. Captain Schoonderbeek, really enjoying your blog! Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this in your, no doubt, busy job. Hope to have the opportunity to sail with you one day.

    Just wondering if the master of the cargo ship behind you was Belgian, maybe!

    Het beste en hopenlijk tot ziens!

  3. great commentary. Just wondering how long you spend each day on these updaes?


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