Saturday 1st November afternoon, finally the sun after a rainy week. My children and I went to Pasajes to see the bulker MALICIA. We had the opportunity to go aboard and Captain Rodrigo Ramos has been our guide for 2 hours. He is Mexican, his crew comes from South America. Two hours very pleasant. He told us some stories of sea and sailors. The ship usually works in the caribbean sea, between Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Dominica and South America. Captain Ramos told us about the stopovers in some ports without dock and severely under-equipped, where sometimes mooring lines are fixed to the trees.
The vessel is tired, 28 years old. After she was sold to her new owner on May 26 2008, and changed her name from ALICIA I to MALICIA, she received some emergency repairs and her owner negotiated with the Pasajes yards to make other repairs. He loaded timber with Vigo in Spain for destination, but during the crossing, one of the two engines broke down. 20 days to cross the ocean! The MALICIA arrived in Pasajes on 08/09/08 and went to dry docks for hull maintenance, below the waterline.
The engine repair is not yet complete. The crew has to replace some mechanical parts. The cranes of the bulker are down. The parts of the electric motors are not produced anymore and can't be replaced. The cranes will be filed and a hydraulic mechanism will be adapted. Meanwhile, the MALICIA will try to find goods to load between European ports, where the cranes of the vessel are not useful. It is not the case in the small Caribbean ports. She will come back to Pasajes to recover her cranes before returning to America.
The visit was complete and ended around a glass of Coca-Cola. The cuban owner of the ship joined us, we chatted and joked together a lot. Captain Ramos has been really kind with us. He showed us a video taken during a gale in the Caribbean Sea, when he took a French yacht in tow and brought it back to Fort de France. He told us about his family, his three daughters and his wife who live in the port of Tampico (Mexico). During 15 years of career, he called home only 3 times. Thus the life of a sailor engaged in the tramp trade. He dreams of becoming a pilot in the port of Tampico. He is 35 years old. He speaks with a soft voice and gives orders to his crew without bluntness.
Thank you very much Captain Ramos. Happy sailing to you, to your crew and to the MALICIA
Update June 2010.
MALICIA is still docked in Pasajes. The vessel again changed owner. Her hull has been repainted but the cranes won't be repaired or replaced. The ship is almost ready to go, without its cranes, according to information gathered on the spot!