So Big, So Small

When I speak about my shipping life with outsiders they are often most amazed by the size of ships. Engines that easily fit people within the cylinders, so many football fields in length etc. I rarely spend a lot of time thinking about it, but Jim Kline and I were working a project together. When we were returning to the ship that morning, he said: “I am going to pick up some donuts for the crew on the way in”.

It is a small gesture but generally appreciated. Donuts and magazines provide hard working crews with a connection to shore.

When we got to the ship it became apparent that the situation had settled to an extent that one man could cover the job, so I went home. When I drove off I saw Jim with his bag of donuts getting out of his truck and took a quick picture.

This is not a super large vessel, but it carries 5000 cars. Enough to supply five average car dealers for a full year. The world’s largest parking structures at airports average 10,000 cars. They don’t move and they have more people working them than a ship.

It takes at least 20,000 lashings to keep these cars in place. If it takes a minute to secure one lashing, it will take one person 333 hours (41 working days) to secure every car (I am betting it would be easier to walk the length of the Appalachian trail in that time). To see every car would take about 10 miles of walking. The walk from the wheelhouse to the engine room includes 10 flight of stairs and takes about 10 minutes. Going that way is easy; it is worse the other way around. (There is an elevator, but elevators are maintenance hogs and slow)

The night before Jim told me his fitbit showed 5 miles of walking while he was aboard this vessel. The crew makes an effort to inspect all of that cargo at least once a day.

Jim’s two dozen donuts is enough for one donut with each crew member’s morning cup of coffee. But then I thought: In all that volume will the donuts ever find the crew?

They certainly don’t have to worry about the calories with all that walking.