Rewritten onboard M/T Ek-Star October 2010
Picture from www.shipspotting.com Picture by Tapio Karvonen
M/T Rankki was built 1982 in Helsinki, Finland. She's on 11538 ton DW.
Rankki is 140,7m long and 21,23m wide.
She was owned and operated by Neste, but Hornet had the management.
She was later sold by Neste to Donsö Bunker Service and renamed Omega af Donsö
Tuesday 23rd of January 1996 and I signed on at Neste's Refinery in Borgå. I took an early morning flight from Gothenburg to Helsinki. The agent picked me up at the airport and he drove me to Neste's harbour office in Borgå. I had to wait for a while before I could see Rankki arrive to the jetty. it took a while to get alongside due to the ice along the jetty. It was cold so it was nice when I could finally get onboard and inside the accommodation.
The winter of 1996 was a very cold one. We remember the blizzard in Go:teborg back in November '95. Baltic Sea was covered with ice and it was thick ice so the ice breakers were busy 24 seven assisting ships stuck in the ice.
And even though Rankki was a nice ship for navigation in ice it's hard to drive the ship through thick ice. No time to sit down and relax. Always have to watch out where channels through the ice are. If you miss the ice channel you can get stuck for a long time waiting for the ice breaker.
And if there isn't any old channel through the ice you will have to be for a look out for places where the ice looks to be thinner and thus easier to break through.
During the night it's really hard, using the search light all the time casing the darker part of the ice. The black area means open water or thin ice. Sometimes you hit a wall of packed ice several meters thick. Then we have to go astern and try another place, if it’s possible to back off.
If we're stuck we had to wait for an ice breaker. But Rankki was built for ice and I can't remember one single time when we got stuck in the ice.
Busy all the time. But the times turns quick during those watches and before you know it it's time for a nap.
It's nice to stand down from duty after a watch like that.
When it's cold everything it's much more difficult to do. Everything is frozen, even our mooring ropes freezes. Especially in the beginning of the winter or when there is no ice. The ropes get wet in the water and freeze stiff like a poker. It's easier when the sea is covered with ice, then the ropes won't get wet.
You have to get dressed so you look like an anti-aircraft balloon and you move like a refrigerator. In the summer you can go direct from bed to deck and your movements are more cats like.
As mentioned before this winter was very cold and the whole of Gulf of Bothnia and the north of the Baltic Sea were frozen and on the picture below you can see the ice covering the sea.
And you can see the slur looking stuff after us. This is what a channel through the ice looks like. As you can understand it is not easy to find, especially during the night.
We managed to have a good time even though it was cold so it hurt to be on deck. It was a nice crew and we always had time to crack a few jokes and that's important. I have been on many crappy sh.., well, not many. But a few crappy ships but I had liked it if the crew was OK. The most important thing.
They called me from the company and asked if I wanted to sign on Argo Athena in March.
- OK, I said.
- It will be in the beginning of March.
- Hmm, March, then I only a few days to arrange everything (I really need my SNUS ).
3 to 4 months on Argo Athena without snus and I would have gone craze, that’s for sure. Where to get snus? And how to get it to Dubai?
I cannot send snus for 4 months to Dubai. But I can send my clothes to Dubai and my snus to Bangkok. Then I can fly from Bangkok to Dubai with my suitcase full of snus and our Agent will deliver my clothes to the ship. Yes a great idea.
Where to get snus? Luckily enough we discharged in Stockholm and I went ashore with 1 AB. We walked to "Nacka Centrum"' a big shopping mall 20 minutes or something like that from Bergh's Olje Terminal.
I was in to every shop to buy snus and we bought all the snus I could find, 18 or 19 kg. And believe me, Nacka Centrum was cleaned from snus when we were ready. We took the snus to the post office and I packed it in a big box and I put a few old T-shirts over the snus and we taped the box closed.
Yes, I had brought a few T-shirts to Nacka Centrum. You didn't think that I just rushed away without a plan. No no!
Of course you will have to fill up a custom declaration when sending a box to Thailand. I had 2 old T-shirts in the box and I wrote " old and used T-shirt's" on the custom declaration.
Sunday 3rd of March 1996 and I signed off in Umeå in the North of Sweden. I got a flight to Gothenburg and I didn't spend much time in Gothenburg before I left for Bangkok and hopefully, my snus has arrived.