My life onboard Höegh Jeddah: Week 3

DATE 10.11.2023

When you think of a captain, you might imagine an authoritarian, bearded character wearing a uniform, steering the ship, and shouting aggressive commands to the crew. Luckily, the times have changed. What does it take to be a good captain nowadays?

«I have experienced very authoritarian captains,» our popular captain, Victor Escamilla (45), said. «They treated people like machines. But treating people like machines just doesn’t work. The crew will not perform well, and people will turn against you. I try to make sure that everyone is all right and that the ambience onboard is good. Psychological wellbeing is important. The crew can always talk to me. I’m flexible.»

The youngest crew member onboard, John Narra (21), dreams of becoming a captain one day, but for now, he’s happy being a cadet and seems to be savoring every moment onboard.
John heard about the scholarship of the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association by coincidence, and immediately understood that the scholarship could be his one-way ticket out of poverty. He didn’t dare to tell his parents that he was planning to take the entrance exams, because he knew that they would worry about the costs. Instead he spent his savings on bus rides and medical exams and undertook the exams in secret. Eventually his mother found out about the exams and forbade him to proceed with the application. Luckily, someone from the school administration called his mother and explained her that the scholarship would cover all costs. Now she is very proud of her seafaring son.

«When I was younger, I thought that the small convenience store of my parents would be my entire future,» John said. «I have only been at sea for seven months, but I have already circumnavigated the world and I have visited so many countries! Seafaring has become my call. This is my life now. The scholarship literally opened the whole world to me.»

After 18 days at sea, we are approaching Port Elizabeth. When I embarked, I thought that I would be very happy to disembark, but instead I feel sad. It has been a wonderful adventure to stay onboard Höegh Jeddah and to get to know the crew. My only comfort is that this is not the end. I’m not even halfway to Japan. Later this month, I will continue my journey on Höegh Trooper. Due to the recent bad weather in Europe, she is slightly delayed, so I will have plenty of time for safaris on land before I return to the sea.

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.


Erika Fatland was born in Haugesund in Norway in 1983.

She has an M.A. in social anthropology and speaks 8 languages.

Fatland is the author of a total of 7 books. She had her international breakthrough with Sovietistan (2014), which is translated to 27 languages.

Other notable woks include The Border. A Journey Around Russia (2017) and High. A Journey Across the Himalayas (2020).

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