A troubled heart. My life on Höegh Trooper Week 3

My life on Höegh Trooper Week 3
DATE 22.12.2023

The engine is the steaming hot heart of the ship. After each brief visit to the engine room, I urgently need a cold shower, but the engineers seem unaffected by the heat: – It’s only 38 degrees today, says Harris, the second engineer. – In the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, the temperature can surpass 50 degrees. At times, it’s only possible to work at night. Harris has worked in engine rooms for 13 years and still feels he’s learning something new every day. – When we reach Singapore, we’re replacing a staybolt, for instance. It has been broken since Belgium. I’ve never replaced a staybolt before.

An old lady

Trooper’s heart is worn and troubled. That’s why there are currently ten people working in the engine room, compared to eight, normally.

An old lady like Trooper needs more dedication, explains Henilito, the chief engineer. – There is always something that needs to be fixed.

The staybolt is not the only broken part of Trooper’s heart. One of the generators is failing at the moment and is currently being repaired. The solenoid valve of the second steering pump gave up shortly after we left Port Louis and will be replaced as soon as we reach Japan.

Working on an old ship is rewarding for a young engineer, because you learn how to solve a lot of problems, says John, the fourth engineer.

John chose to study engineering because he dreamt of becoming a captain. After enrolling on the course, he discovered that engineers don’t become captains.

I’m still very happy with my choice, John says. – It was a blessing in disguise. The officers are always on duty. Engineers have resting days and plenty of time to go ashore.

Dire straits

During my weeks on board Höegh Jeddah and Höegh Trooper, spotting another ship has been a rare reminder that we are not alone on the ocean, after all.

Earlier this week, we entered the busy Malacca Straight, one of the most congested marine lanes in the world – and a key strategic spot for the Portuguese navigators of the 16th century.

All of a sudden, we are surrounded by container vessels, tankers and fishing boats and all sides. The officers are never alone on the bridge any longer. The ambience is one of calm concentration:

The first time I sailed through the Malacca strait, more than ten years ago, I was very nervous, says Jesmart, who is third officer on board. – At that time, we had pirate lookouts, as there previously had been frequent pirate attacks in the area.

A decade later the hot spot has shifted to the Red Sea. Everyone on board is nervous at the thought of transiting through Bab el Mandeb. After Japan, Trooper’s next port of call is Larnaca, Cyprus.

Final preparations

Two days before Christmas we received the Christmas present that everyone had been hoping for: The ship is being redirected around the Cape of Good Hope.

More than half a millennium after Bartolomeu Dias made his pioneering voyage to the southern tip of Africa, the long journey around the Cape of Good Hope has once again become the go to-route for shipping companies around the globe. As we turn the page on 2023, we can only hope that 2024 will bring more peace and unity and fewer drone and missile attacks.

On board Trooper, the Christmas preparations are entering the final stages. Ever since I boarded in November, the crew has been talking enthusiastically about the special games that they play every Christmas, but no one has been willing to give any further details. I assume that it’s near impossible to convey the content of the games with words, but I will certainly give it a try in the next – and final – letter from the waves.

Meanwhile, from all of us on board Höegh Trooper: Merry Christmas! God jul! Maligayang Pasko!

Second engineer Harris and chief engineer Henilito take good care of Trooper’s troubled heart.
Second engineer Harris and chief engineer Henilito take good care of Trooper’s troubled heart.
John now dreams of becoming a superintendent.
John now dreams of becoming a superintendent.
Jesmart keeps a steady course.
Jesmart keeps a steady course.
It’s still two days until Christmas, but there’s no reason to despair: Tonight we have two birthdays to celebrate!
It’s still two days until Christmas, but there’s no reason to despair: Tonight we have two birthdays to celebrate!

The Navigator. A Journey through the Lost Empire of the Portuguese.

Over the course of 50 days, the renowned anthropologist and writer Erika Fatland, known for her insightful depictions in the critically acclaimed books "Sovietistan" (2014) and "The Border - A Journey Around Russia" (2017), will travel with two of our vessels Höegh Jeddah and Höegh Trooper.

The voyage will take her along the coast of Africa and across the Indian Ocean, all the way to Korea. This journey is part of her research for her upcoming book, "The Navigator. A Journey through the Lost Empire of the Portuguese." The title is inspired by Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese prince who financed maritime expeditions down the African coast in the early 15th century.

life on Höegh Trooper

04 January 2024

A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER - My life on Höegh Trooper Week 4

Seafarers sure know how to throw a party! From very early in the morning on December 24 everyone was busy preparing sumptuos amounts of food and decorating the messroom. There was glitter, there were balloons, and there was even a photo booth, adorned with the logo of Höegh Trooper, so that everyone could have a postcard-like photo to send to family and friends. The ambience was merry and filled with laughter, even if the Christmas season without doubt is the hardest time of the year for the crew to be away from their loved ones.

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