13 February, 2007

Loading Malua on Erasmusgracht

Steaming towards the Erasmusgracht secured along side Darling harbour in the dawn light I realised we had finally arrived at the end of the Australian chapter of the Malua story. It was so exciting. The next time I would be sailing Malua it would be in Europe on the Mediterranean and that would be only 40 days away!

We arrived alongside to find a 43ft yacht already on the vessel and the stevedores struggling to load a power boat. They did not have the correct loading equipment and it appeared as if they did not have the experience with loading vessels from out of the water on to a ship.

The Australian water front has been plagued with industrial and demarcation issues. Only certain groups of union staff are permitted to do designated tasks. This was evident today. The Master of the Erasmusgracht and the load master from Sevenstar had to hold their tongues as the P&O crew struggled to load the powerboat. We stayed alongside the ship waiting our turn to be lifted out of the water.

The mast of Malua and the temporary backstays appeared to pose a problem for the stevedores. They asked me to remove the backstays but I refused and suggested that the current lifting rig should be change to a more suitable arrangement for yachts. There was a long delay but after more than an hour the correct lifting rig appeared attached to the ships cranes I was relieved. The stevedore crew came aboard and with the help of the divers and my marks on the hull we soon had the slings in the correct place. The crane slowly lifted Malua out of the water as we tested the weight distribution and how secure the rig was. It was time to leave Malua as they hosted it up over the side of the ship. The fourth time Malua has flown from the end of a crane’s slings (in and out of my yard in Canberra during the fit-out phase of building).

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