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Notes From A 25-Day Voyage On The Rickmers Jakarta; Houston To Antwerp

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14 (September 2, 2017) At Sea:


I slept poorly. Kay said that she slept well. Until about 3:00am, the rolling kept me awake as I listened for our stuff crashing to the floor. But I heard nothing falling, so finally got a little sleep until 6:00am. The only thing on the floor this morning was a pen and a pencil.


Richard, our new passenger, was not at breakfast – maybe he’s a coffee only guy in the morning.


Back in the room, I read to Kay from The Week and a new issue of The Atlantic.Jefferson came in to make up our room so we went to the rec room where Kay wrote in her journal and I did another crossword.


For lunch, we had asparagus soup and pork schnitzel with potatoes and veggies plus a pear.


Richard finally joined us, along with Bogdan, Victor and Arvin. Richard is a semi-retired math teacher at a community college in California. We chatted more about his upcoming bike ride and we dined on memories of our own greatest cycling accomplishments.


Back in the room, Kay started up her yoga tapes. I wrote in my journal. Then we had coffee and I read to Kay. Coming out of the shower this afternoon, I grabbed the hinge-side of the bathroom door for balance and the motion of the ship swung the door on my right thumb. No broken skin or joint damage, but the nail is black and there’s some pain when I press down with the thumb.


For dinner, we had those meatballs and spaghetti. Kay was happy that the meatballs were moist and soft this time. Had nice chat with officers and Richard.


Afterwards,we read some more and then we watched Young Frankenstein.

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After soup came our main dish. No choices here, we ate what the crew ate. Pretty hearty fare - for working men & women.


Serving time for each meal was only an hour. If you came in on time, you usually got a hot meal dished directly from the galley. If you were like more than 15 minutes late, you dish was placed on the table covered in clingy-wrap (Saran Wrap).


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Enjoying reading about your adventure on the Rickmers Jakarta. Makes me wish I was still on the south side of the age limit.

One question, I noticed your water glass was without ice. Your choice or is that the only option at mealtimes?

Looking forward to reading the next chapter.



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Bottled still water was always served at meal times. They had sugared iced tea. They had no diet sodas, so we had a private stash in our room. You could purchase sugared sodas, beer & wine from the slop chest (ship's store).


They probably had ice, but we never asked for it with our bottled water.

In the room, we always drank bottled water but the tap water tasted OK and we used it to brush our teeth.

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15 (September 3, 2017) Morehead City (NC) and At Sea:


Got up at 7:00am. Ship motion not too bad and slept well (helped by a motion sickness pill for the drowsiness benefit). Thumb not any worse than last night. A little swollen but working ok.


Docked at Morehead City, NC to pick up some aircraft parts. We docked before breakfast and the planned sail-away was for 10:30am. So, we didn’t plan to disembark.


Skipped eggs for cereal and yogurt. Chatted with Richard, Victor & Bogdan.


After breakfast, we went back to the room so Kay could call family members. This morning, we got an email from our son Clint saying that his wife Sharice wanted to split up and asked us if we wanted a roommate. I showered and layed topside to the pilot deck while Kay started her calls to our daughter Karen, her brother Ken and our friend Kristen (and her sons Connor and Evan). Watched,with Richard, the loading of the aircraft components. Largest bit of cargo,probably part of a fuselage, need two cranes to load. Beautiful sunny day with lots of pleasure boats out.


Came back to the room as Kay was talking to Ken. The she got a hold of Clint. Looking like he wouldn’t make the move to Austin until after we got back in November. Maybe they’ll ‘reconcile’ after this ‘shot across the bow’ from Sharice. Kay grimly reminded me that this was the second ‘shot across the bow’. We’ll deal with this when we get back. Otherwise, don’t mind having Clint stay with us for awhile until he gets a place for himself. But no pets!


At about 10:45am, we sailed. It’s off across the Atlantic for Montoir, France with an ETA of September 11th.


For lunch, we had some beef & macaroni soup and a tough steak with French fries and mixed veggies. And chocolate ice cream. Bonus – Richard was not a fan of chocolate ice cream, so I got it! I told Richard to always accept his ice cream and I would help him out with it in future.


After lunch, we went out on the pilot deck to sun ourselves and walk. Richard also came out and stayed with us for a few minutes before going up to the bridge.


Back in the cabin, I worked a crossword and dozed for a few minutes while Kay worked on her journals and labeled and moved pictures. Made some coffee for us and wrote on this journal.


As of 2:30pm, the sea is tranquil and there not much motion in the ocean. Fingers crossed although Richard told us earlier that a friend in Philadelphia told him that we could expect the first couple of days of the crossing to be a bit rough with conditions improving as we moved east.


I read some more from The Atlantic and a few chapters from Y is for Yesterday.


Dinner was a somewhat dry roasted chicken leg and thigh with squash. Chatted with Richard, Bogdan & Victor.


Afterwards,I read some more chapters from Y is for Yesterday. After it got dark, we decided to look at some of Bogdan’s DVDs.The first one was from several DVDs of Excellence Conference 2002 with Dr. A.R. Bernard from the City Harvest Church. But the DVD player could output sound only – no video. After some minutes listening tothe content and struggling to get video output, we gave up. Next, we played his The Wonders of Creation Reveal God’s Glory. It was mostly a father and his son walking in the woods with the father explaining how wonderful the world was and how God, Jehova, had made the world and man for a purpose, a reflection of himself. It was all very positive but I wondered about evil, death, pestilence, disease, war and other things that should have been explained and why God had allowed that.


Afterwards,I continued with an interesting article from The Atlantic entitled The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife about the discovery of an old papyrus with Coptic writing that claimed that Jesus had a wife. It was a detective piece exploring possible forgery of the papyrus and a shady character behind it all.


Theseas were still calm as we went to bed. Not much rolling at all.

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16 (September 4, 2017) At Sea:


Slept well. During our morning coffee, I read some more from The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. Then we went down for breakfast. As we finished breakfast, we saw a crew just outside setting up safety lines for some maintenance project.


I told Kay that I would have to describe parts of this ship, our cabin, the officer’s mess, the pilot deck and other places in the minute detail that Sue Grafton does in the novel that we’re now reading and her other novels. I’d have to take photos of these places to be sure that I captured all the details.


Back in the room, we finished up The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. Kay was experiencing some neck & back pain. We supposed it was from her lengthy computer session yesterday. She took a nap while I worked on my journal. I started a wash. Around noon, it’ll be ready for the dryer.


The crew is busy outside hammering rust from the container stacking guides and the carpenters are fashioning some heavy wood blocking for additional footing for the crew. Oh, our Rickmers Jakarta, looking pristine in the website photos, all rusty. The oceans are hard on ships.


The crew has covered the blocking with small cross-planks. A second set of blocking is now being erected.


For lunch, we had tomato soup, fried fish, mashed potatoes & carrots. There was sliced grapefruit and it was tasty. Present for lunch were Richard, Bogdan, Victor, Andrei, and Ion. We were quiet, not much conversation other than talking about the rust and paint crew outside.


After lunch, I worked on a crossword and Kay wrote in her journal. I went down and got our clothes out of the dryer.


The rust & paint crew has returned from lunch and they are resuming their racket. At 1:00pm, the ship started to pick up a rolling motion. I’m hoping that it doesn’t get much worse. I read from Y is for Yesterday while Kay worked out with her elastic bands. This is a very good story and we can’t put it down. It’s cutting into our time to finish up those back issues of The Atlantic.


Worked on a crossword while Kay took a shower. Kay then went to her journal while I finished up a crossword and looked out the ports at the rust and paint crew. They applied some red primer to where they took off the old paint.


Time for a description of our cabin: The Owner’s Cabin. It the largest passenger cabin on D Deck. Facing towards the prow of the ship, it’s in the center of the superstructure. To our right is the Master’s cabin and to our left is the Chief Engineers cabin. Our cabin has a day room where the entry door is. As you enter,you see a greenish-brown close-knit carpet. The bulkheads (walls) are plastic-covered fiberboards, about 18” wide of a tan color. The overhead (ceiling) is white-colored fiberboard panels, also 18” wide with a perpendicular seam across the center of the room. On the bulkhead directly to the right of the hatch hangs a painting of a seashell and a sconce lighting fixture with a half-shade made of tan cloth. On the bulkhead to the right are two more hung paintings of seashells on each side of another sconce lighting fixture of similar design as the first. The outside bulkhead has, to the right, two rectangular ports, one fixed and one operable. Each port is about 14” wide by 20” high. The port frames each have 26 phillips-head screws. To the left of the two port is a fourth painting of a seashell. All four paintings appear to be by the same artist and the matting and frames are identical. To the far right of this bulkhead is a shelf with a guard rail mounted about 5 feet above the deck. The bulkhead to the left has four clothes hooks, a door leading to our bedroom, and a wall-mounted clock in a gold-plated housing about 6 feet above the deck.


Right next to the entry hatch is a brown laminated fiberboard cabinet with a mini-refrigerator within. To the right of the entry hatch is a wrap-around sofa in a green fabric. In front of the sofa is a fixed coffee table about two feet by three feet. Against the outside bulkhead, starting from the left, is a desk with an ell abutting a long counter with drawers increasing in depth from about 18” deep to almost three feet deep towards the corner of the day room. The desk has a standard office chair upholstered in green fabric matching the sofa. In front of the desk, in front of the long counter, is a sort of chaise lounge chair, movable, upholstered in green, like the sofa. There are two foot-operated waste bins, made of white plastic – one right next to the entry door and one between the sofa and the long counter.


The adjoining bedroom is the same size as the day room. Pretty much the same deck, bulkhead & ceiling finishes. There are two separate single beds with raised edges for rolling conditions. There are four closets with shelves (occupied by life jackets, hard hats and two immersion suits. There are two ports.


The bathroom has a stand up shower with curtain, a lavatory and a standard flush-valve toilet, like the institutional units you see in public restrooms.It was a little refreshing to see that we did not have the standard vacuum flush toilets like on mainstream cruise ships.


For dinner, we had steak with pepper sauce, rice and veggies. Afterwards, we went up to the pilot deck to watch the sunset.


We chose to read tonight. With another loss of an hour due to crossing a time zone, there wasn’t time for a movie. We finished up Y is for Yesterday. And then we put ourselves to sleep working solitaire and crosswords.

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Crew setting up wooden platforms to chip paint and prime the container stacking guides. Crew was using pneumatic hammers and hand-held hammers to chip paint.








Thanks for adding all the details. I feel as if I am there with you!



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17 (September 5, 2017) At Sea:


Another good night’s sleep. Gentle rolling and pitching with the rumble of the engines made for good sleep.


We got up early to catch the sunrise before breakfast. I made a drawing of our bathroom sink illustrating a small leak from the trap area. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. At breakfast, I gave the drawing to the Gabriel and he said he would send an engineer over about 10:00am.


Kay started a painting and I will read to her from Rick Steve’s Europe Through the Back Door and from The Atlantic.


For lunch, we had chicken soup, beef stew with mashed potatoes, slaw and melon. Richard told us he was going on a tour of the engine room. Next time we see him, we’ll ask who he asked to get that tour (probably the Chief Engineer, Ion).


This afternoon, Kay painted some more while read to her from The Atlantic and 50 Famous People by James Baldwin. Then, about an hour before dinner, we layed topside to the Pilot Deck to do laps & stretches (mostly Kay).


Dinner was chicken cordon bleu with quinoa and some veggies. Bogdan and Ion were there and we told them that we marveled at the crew climbing up the shipping container guides removing rust and priming for paint. Richard came in later and we chatted with him on what a typical day of cycling will be like for him when he gets off next week. He offered us some wine, which I accepted. We chatted about the possibility of staying on the ship at least one extra night while in port at Antwerp. That would give us an easy day without luggage to hunt and reserve a hotel room. We’re thinking about it and we’ll ask Igor.


After coffee and maybe going up to see the sunset, we’re thinking of Face/Off with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.

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18 (September 6, 2017) At Sea:


We saw Face/Off last night. I want to Google Face/Off to get a count of gunshots – must be thousands of rounds.


We saw Igor this morning and he told us that it might be possible for us to log into the crew WiFi. He would let us know. But I’m not holding my breath. Also, it appears that Igor may allow us to stay on board another night after arrival in Antwerp if we’re there for two or more nights. That way, we could use the first day in port to get off and reconnoiter a hotel before disembarkation the following day. We each had some brewed coffee during breakfast.


In the morning, Kay wrote in her journal while I read to myself from Rick Steve’s Europe Through the Back Door and we discussed the possibility of renting a car in the continent rather than using trains. Looks like trains for now. I also worked a few crosswords.


For lunch, we had a nice chicken & vermicelli and BBQ chicken with sauerkraut & potatoes. Bodgan and Victor were deep in conversation, so we did not chat with them too much. We chatted with Richard about his upcoming bike ride.


In the afternoon, I read Kay something from The Atlantic while she labeled pictures from previous journals.


For dinner, we had a tasty spaghetti with meatballs. We chatted again with Richard.


After our afternoon coffee and a brief visit to the pilot deck, where it was too wet & slippery to walk, we got a call from Igor to come to the rec room to set up access to the crew WiFi. Rickmers was allowing Igor to give us two hours per day WiFi for each of us. That’s a $500 value – free. But when we logged on in our room, the connection would break. Probably too many crew members logged on. We’ll try again tomorrow.


Lots of motion in the ocean tonight. Should have more trouble falling asleep.

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19 (September 7, 2017) At Sea:


Another hour lost to time change last night puts us in the same time zone as the Azores.


Had my first oatmeal of the cruise this morning. Also had a cup of coffee from the galley. Have got to remember to take the camera down later and get some photos of the galley if they allow it.


Still foggy outside, so the shipping container guides rust and paint brigade were indoors this morning washing down the walls of the stairway and corridors.


Read a cover story on China from The Atlantic to Kay this morning.


For lunch, we had breaded fish, mashed potatoes, veggies and that wonderfully robust lentil soup.


Kay worked on her journals and I did crosswords. We took a nap. Very foggy outside, so we could only stand and view the fog and get some fresh air on the pilot deck – too wet and slippery to walk.


For supper, we had a tasty beef stew with rice. Kay ate only part of hers – too much beef, she complained.


After some more reading, crosswords & sudoku, we watched the very moving Tuskegee Airmen.


As we went to bed, the ship was rolling pretty well and getting to sleep was going to be hard again.

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This is the crew mess. We were never invited to eat here. Based on other freighter blogs, we learned that the food is served here cafeteria-style and that the food is more Filipino, given the makeup of the non-officer crew. With our messman & cook being Filipino, we surmised that the food here was probably very good.


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Try the link below. We also booked through them. The Maris site also has links to some blogs that other cruisers have posted.




If the link above does not work, just google 'Maris Freighter Cruises'.

I would (maybe not the DW) would do this again.


After all, one can get tired of great service, great food & great entertainment. ;-)

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