Rewritten onboard M/T Ek-Star September 2010
Picture from www.shipspotting.com Photo by Capt. Jan Melcher
M/T Bituma is an tanker for Oil, Bitumen, Coal tar and Creosote, EO, ESP. She can load cargoes with a maximum temperature of 220°C. Built by Werft Nobiskrug, Rendsburg, Germany, Oct. 1981. She's on 2750 DWT and loads 2781m³ in 12 cargo tanks. She is 86,98m long and 12,4m wide.
When I signed off Forsvik I didn't want to go back there. So I called the owner of Bituma were I had been before I joined M/T Forsvik. I don't know who owned the ship, but he was the owner before and he was Captain onboard last time I was there.
Now TSA was the owner and Brevik had a part of her, I think. But honestly I don't know who owns here and I don't care.
- Hello Björn! Do you need a good 2nd Officer?
- No we don't, he replied, but we need a 2nd Officer to Margita.
- OK, I'm available, I said<
- We don't need him for a few weeks but we call you, he said.
- By the way, do you know any good AB? We need one for Bituma in a few days.
- Well, I'm a good AB, I said.
We agreed that I should sign on as an AB for a few weeks and then go to Margita as 2nd Officer. I really didn't want to go back to Forsvik so I accepted the job as AB. I don't like to turn down job when they call me, but now I could say that I was busy.
But they called from Brevik Tankers when I was on Bituma and they wondered where I had gone.
- Why? Can't you come back? Please!
- No, I will never set foot on ship with this Captain again! Something seriously wrong with him.
- We have another ship for you.
- Well, I already have a new job now.
We got a trip to the northern part of Norway, close to the Russian border and we got delayed and I missed Margita, but never mind. Who cares?
I don't remember where I signed on Bituma, hmmm, I
think it was in Gothenburg but I'm not sure. It's not important anyway.
and I do this page a second time. Back in 2003 it was mostly notes I wrote down. But now its 17 years ago I was on M/T Bituma and I can’t say I remember anything more. But I'm pretty sure I joined the ship in Gothenburg on a nice summer day.
- Hmm, thinking of it, I'm almost sure I joined the ship in Gothenburg.
Please, don't ask me where I signed off, I can't remember that. It's 9 years ago now. I'm doing this page October 2003 in a hotel room in Bangkok. I have just bought a scanner so I can scan my old photos. And I'm doing it on a hotel room waiting for them to be ready with my condominium.
As I said, the plan was for me to stay a few weeks but we got this trip to the Northern Norway. But I was not really keen on signing of. At least not until I was slim and handsome. So I stayed on Bituma, we had a good time onboard.
I had a bet with 1 of the AB's onboard.
- Hey, if you catch me eating anything except fruit and vegetables I give you 100$
- OK, he said
Well, when he was on watch in the mess room and before soon he could spot me sneaking in to the mess room Oops I lost 100$.
- Hey, if you catch me eating anything except fruit and vegetables I give you my camera.
- OK, he said
Well, he was on watch in the mess room and before soon he could spot me sneaking in to the mess room Oops, here we go again and I lost camera.
- Hey, if you catch me eating anything except fruit and vegetables I give you my "Ghetto Blaster"
- OK, he said
Well, he was on watch in the mess room and before soon he could spot me sneaking in to the mess room Oops, here we go again and I lost the "Ghetto Blaster".
I lost much of my things, but Hey, it was easy to carry the bag when I signed off. Hmm, if I only could remember where I signed off.
One day the Captain asked me:
- Shouldn't you save money on this trip?
- Oh yeah
- Well, you are losing money by the day.
- You have to pay me more!
Expensive to be on a diet. Well I could see that the situation was getting out of hand. I had to do something. I knew by then that it was not only my bag but even my valet was going to be easy to carry when I signed off.
Diet and going ashore having a good time with the boys doesn't make you rich.
I think it was in Drammen, we discharged bitumen. We been working long hours and one of the AB's and I
(the nimble boys) agreed sooner than quick that it would be nice to go ashore and let our hair down.
We decided to take the train to Oslo.
I don't remember much of our visit to Oslo. But we had brown bagged a few beers for the train raid so we were tipsy when we arrived to Oslo train station. And if we were not the most handsome boys in town we for sure felt like we were.
Oslo is always fun, but darn! Norway is expensive. And I remember one place and they refused to let us in but we didn't let that let us down.
We took a taxi back to the ship at the wee hours. It's very cheap to have a few beers and travel by taxi in Norway.
We were three ABs onboard and one of the ABs was from Norway. I got an e-mail from him 30th of July 2009. That's almost exactly 16 years later.
Back in 1993 there was no internet or mobile phones. But we had internet 2009 and he had a relative from USA
visiting him in Norway. So he was searching the internet and he found my page about Bituma.
E-mail from 30th of July 2009
Jeg sitter her med min nevö¸ fra USA og viser ham båten jeg jobber på nå og båter jeg har v&aslash;rt på. Plutselig får jeg se et bilde av megselv med en Cola boks og Triuph T-skjorte. Det var "way out there", for å si de sånn.
Det er Putte på det andre bildet, ikke sant? Har du kontakt med noen av folkene der fortsatt?
La meg høre fra deg om du fortsatt er linket til denne siden
We had a good time onboard and it was very good ABs. But I don't know why, the AB from Norway was fired by our Captain and the company lost a very good AB.
The Captain, the Police had to come get him and he was Captain on Stena Barbados 6 years later and when I joined the ship on Trinidad 1999 I felt on the floor when I saw the Captain.
- F@cking hell, are you allowed to work on ships?
He was fired from this ship as well and here we have yet another example on how companies listen to a crazy Captain and they lose good people.
Well, same as last time I was onboard Bituma. We discharged at many small places around Norway. Summer time is short in the North of Norway and they need to repair all their roads after the winter. Asphalt and they can only repair their roads when the temperature is over 5°C. Most of the places we came to were just a small bridge and a tank.
Very beautiful area, but to live there? No way! And beautiful was the only thing about it. No night life or any opportunity to spend money. Imagine these places in the winter, dark 24 Seven and not a disco or bar nearby.
No houses to be seen around. But we saw many beautiful sceneries in the Norwegian fjords. When Björn was Captain he was taking us around in the Fjords so we could look at the views. Well, when you are the owner you can do stuff like that.
And no, it's not snow or ice on deck. This is in the middle of the summer. Its salt, the cargo is more than 200°C so the sea water evaporates in a jiff leaving the salt behind.
We were mostly loading in Rotterdam and in Dunkerque, France. We loaded at the BP terminal in Dunkerque and it was not too far from the city. It was so close so I went ashore with Captain to look for some French Hip Hop.
But in those days I was mostly listening to Techno music. I remember 1 day when I was painting on deck and I had my "Ghetto Blaster" on deck.
I was playing loud techno music. All of the sudden our 1st Engineer came running.
- What's happening? I asked
- It sounds like the pump room fan is about to seize, he replied
- Well, good news, it's my music, I said
We had a good laugh.
One time loading in Dunkerque our departure were delayed. We were ready to leave but, maybe something wrong with the lock, I don't know.
But we were delayed by a few hours and I went ashore with the other 2 ABs. We went to check out the beach, there was plenty bars along the beach road.
We had a few drinks and a talk with the locals. It was a nice place and we were in the good mood.
- I will order a submarine, my friend said.
A submarine is a shot of Jägermeister or something and you drop the glass in a big glass of beer. I think it tastes like s... But there's no accounting for tastes. But I think this is a Scandinavian thing and I don't think they know what it is in France.
- Well, good luck explaining this for the French bartender!
First they dropped an empty shot glass in his beer. Obviously this was not what he wanted and then he got a shot glass of Jägermeister in a big glass filled with ice. Not exactly what he wanted either. And I don't know if he got his submarine so he just ordered a beer and a Jägermeister and he took care of it himself.
We had a good time onboard and it was a nice crew. We use to swap watches when in port so 1 AB was on watch the whole night if the other 2 wanted to go ashore having a good time. We were discharging in Malmö, the only time with Bituma. One of our ABs' and I took the train to see a friend of mine from Navigation school.
Well, this guy, for sure didn't improved our mood to meet him. He got sullen just because we had a few beers. And we had to listen to trite like.
- I have a new girlfriend! Blah-Blah!
- Do you have to misbehave?
- Do you have to drink 2 beers?
What the f@ck motherf@cker! And it didn't become better when I reminded him of last time in my student room. He was lying in my record crates ripping everything to pieces screaming “ I cover all expenses!!”
Well, I have not seen him after that.
This was a nasty experience, and we were never invited to his wedding party. Well, I can imagine just how fun that party was.
And this is the guy I had been carrying around in Gothenburg when he was dead drunk. I should have left him on the side walk.
- Do you have to drink so much?
Never mind, but I have one nice memory from Malmö, I used the flag of Skåne as guest flag in Malmö and the people in the port liked it The came down pointing at the flag smiling. And when the owner came he told me that he saw the flag already when coming over the top off Hallandsåsen.
Yes, Malmö was nice so never mind the Helsingborg incident.
- Ah, you must behave, I have a new girlfriend!
- Ah, you must behave, I have a new apartment!
We were discharging bitumen in Bilbao and we had to fill up a list with how much money we wanted when we arrived to the port. This list was sent to the Agent hand he would bring onboard some of the local Scooby Doo currency when we arrived. Pesetas were the currency in the days before the € had been introduced.
I was going ashore with the 2nd Officer, but he had to hand out the money before we could leave. The last man was one of the ABs, he had put 100 on the money list.
- Who the f@ck wants’ 100 pesetas? 2nd officer asked me.
- I don't know, 100 pesetas is exactly ZIP!
We found the AB and we gave him the 100 Pesetas note. He started to scream and shout.
- What do I need 100 Pesetas for? I want 100 Swedish.
- What the ? You write 100 on a money list for Spain and you expect Swedish money.
Well, obviously he didn't had very much experience from the sea. Well, he was an old fisher man so that was his area of expertise. Well, we took a taxi to Bilbao and we spent a few hours in the city before we returned to the ship.
Well, I had had a very good time onboard. The only thing to complain about was my diet, but what's new? I had lost all my things in my DIET BET so my bag was pretty light o carry when it was time to get home.
I wish I had had a digital camera and a lap top back then. Now my pictures leave a lot to wish for. I can't remember what kind of Camera I had back then. I think it was an Olympus μ and, well, I always buy Canon now a day.
I signed off 16th of September, but I can't remember where. Hmm, was it in Malmö? No, I have no clue where I left the ship. But it's never mind, I knew that I signed off.
But I know I went to Thailand when I came home. Yes, I discovered this while sitting in my hotel room at Tai-Pan hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 23 in Bangkok scanning my old pictures. I stayed in that hotel for a month 2003 when they were decorating my condo. Well, I'm off to Bangkok.
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