Friday, October 15, 2021

Little boats where big boats berth

  I've been back aboard the floating HQ for a couple of watches now, and settled in. We're keeping pace with where we were a few weeks ago, which is to say steady but not crazy.  We carry all 'clean' (low sulfur) fuels, and many ships are still in the process of installing exhaust gas scrubbers that enable them to burn cheaper, dirtier fuel. As such, demand for dirty fuel is increasing as ships visit shipyards only once every 5 years, and a shipyard period is required to install scrubber systems. So, so far so good. 

      I am content to carry cleaner fuels. The reduced sulfur content is easier on the eyes, lungs and person. Used to be that Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife could barely tolerate me at home with the stink of sulfur coming out of my pores, so I'd have to load up a massive belt of whisky and a screaming hot shower to sweat some of it out before even laying down in my own bed, and even with that, she'd change the sheets the next morning, and she was correct- after a couple of days home, I could catch a whiff of heavy fuel oil on the sheets. Brazilians are EXTREMELY fastidious people, and while I am used to their practice of twice-daily showers after all these years, I am happy I no longer am treated as a leper in my own home on crew change night. 

        I mean, when we first met, I stunk of fish from lobstering, so I am sympathetic to the plight of her nose. 

    So we're not running balls-out at the moment, which has been a welcome relief considering that in the last 12 months we've still serviced more ships than I had ever done before. 

       Funny thing, though, on Wednesday, Port Newark had at least 4 small container ships moored. We bunkered two of them. 

     Newark usually hosts large and ultralarge container ships. I suppose it's either a sign of small boat owners wanting a piece of the insane hire rates and willing to walk away from their normal trading patterns, or shippers looking desperately for anything to carry their glut of containers from A to B. 

     I still don't see a major traffic uptick in NY/NJ's secondary container ports like Howland Hook or Red Hook, though. I don't know how to interpret that, except that infrastructure and intermodal shifts don't appear magically out of the ether. It's not easy to get containers across the NYC area as it is, and last minute changes in shifting port destination for a given container is probably not easy or efficient to set up. Somewhere along the way truck or rail transport has to be involved, and I can't help but think that the sheer amount of boxes would make efficiency without careful planning possible. It may actually be cheaper to leave the ships at anchor rather than try to set up new links in the supply chain all willy-nilly. 

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