Six Months at Sea in the Merchant Marine
July 8, 2013 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Martin Machado's short and serene documentary about his experiences working on a container ship.
"In this short documentary, I tried to answer some of the common questions that I usually get about shipping. The footage I took myself using fairly basic cameras that I could fit in my pocket while I was on the job as a deckhand. The story follows me on my six month journey around the world on a container ship which was on a run between New York and Singapore via the Suez Canal. Thanks for watching." - Martin
Via. Previously: The Container Ship; The Internet Guide to Freighter Travel.
posted by Monsieur Caution (19 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, what a great little film. I so enjoyed this at the end of my own little work day. I laughed out loud at around 13:56 when he said he was painting to get his mind off of his work, and slowly revealed a painting....of a container ship.

There's a rhythm to this kind of life that starts out maddening and then becomes very deeply satisfying. Plus it can't hurt that you have the greatest views ever.

It was very well done, as well.

I worked as a photographer with a harbor pilot in NY harbor for a day (self), it was so much fun that I've wanted to do it again ever since. We climbed up the side of several moving container ships on rope ladders in NY harbor. Great stuff. I got a lead on a friend of a friend who is a pilot as well and I'm beyond excited at the thought of going back.

So interesting, thank you very much for posting, and as well posting the previously, I had missed that.
posted by nevercalm at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Beautiful, thank you for sharing.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:35 PM on July 8, 2013

enjoyed that. good share.
posted by RockyChrysler at 9:58 PM on July 8, 2013

Excellent, Monsieur Caution - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:00 PM on July 8, 2013

Oh, wow, I neglected to Google the filmmaker in preparing this post, and it's a real shame I did. Here's his online gallery of paintings, an article about him and his artwork, and some gallery collection of his stuff.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you liked this you really should read Looking for a Ship by John McPhee. The twilight of the US merchant marine has been a long one.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

That was really wonderful, thanks.

I looked as closely as I could, but I could never catch the name of the vessel. At the dry dock in SGP at 16:00 it appears the vessel is the Okha, but the only vessel to ever have that name is a FSP unit, not a box ship.

Anybody else see a shot with the vessel's name?
posted by digitalprimate at 1:10 AM on July 9, 2013

He should join the Coast Guard and rescue people for a living.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:20 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Great little film. Found some more info about his journey here.
posted by orme at 4:53 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was really wonderful. The pacing and narration were just right. He didn't glamorize the experience, but just told it like it was.

Years ago I fantasized about running away from my life and disappearing over the sea on such a ship. I think it would have worked out well.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:57 AM on July 9, 2013

It should be noted that the efficiency of the container ship makes port time a lot shorter than in the days of break bulk cargo. You may get as much as a day in the given port of call, but more than that - not so much. So as a means of seeing the world, it's not as great as it used to be.

Of course, you do get that hypnotic horizon....
posted by BWA at 7:20 AM on July 9, 2013

She seems to be the m/v APL Japan via the photo and checking some maritime records.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:36 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I meant to watch the first few minutes and ended up watching the whole thing. Nice little movie.
posted by w0mbat at 8:02 AM on July 9, 2013

She seems to be the m/v APL Japan via the photo and checking some maritime records.
Corroborated by several (beautiful) paintings in his online gallery labeled 'Night watch on the APL Japan/Days on the APL Japan'. You can view photos and details of the ship here, and even track it's current position off the Cali coast.
posted by prinado at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A great movie, thanks!
posted by lungtaworld at 9:24 AM on July 9, 2013

That was really excellent. The un-adorned voice-over made this feel like a close friend, leaning in to tell you a story. Reminded me a lot of Alone in the Wilderness.
posted by avoision at 12:43 PM on July 9, 2013

very nice. thanks for a wonderful post!!!!
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:22 PM on July 9, 2013

The refit in Singapore makes more sense when you find out that American President Lines is the US subsidiary of Neptune Orient Lines, which is Singapore-based. I wonder if they actually owned the drydock.

The bits going through Suez were neat, reminiscent of the USS Enterprise making the same transit. My brother, who was on the Big E's historic first transit of Suez in '86, described it as seemingly barely fitting, and that you could stand on the top deck and see nothing but desert on either side (i.e. too far back from the edge to see water).
posted by dhartung at 5:51 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just in case anyone is interested, her IMO is 9074391. She was built in 1995 at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) in Kiel.

Her commercial capacity in TEU is 4,832 with 310 reefer plugs. Realistically, she'll carry about 2,500 actual containers as most will be 40s, or 45s or other special (e.g., tall) boxes. At the time she was built, she among the largest class of containership, but now her size is struggling a bit as the market has nearly bifurcated into bigger, post-Panamaxes (of which, looking at her draft and dimensions, she may be an early one of these, but I can't be bothered looking up the actual canal spec) and smaller feeder lines.

She's got a nearly spotless record with less than one deficiency - all minor - per inspection (99 inspections).

She's got a B&W Diesel engine with a top speed of just over 25 knots, although with slow steaming being the norm, she'll do considerably less than that. Unfortunately, being a 90s build, she'll be relatively fuel inefficient (in contract to vessels built in the 70s-80s, most of which are no longer in service, or more modern vessels built with slow steaming in mind.)

Her P&I club is Assuranceforeningen Gard, and she's classed with the American Bureau.

All in all, a good ship, and I can tell you from personal experience APL is a very, very well run and environmentally conscious company, almost up there with Maersk.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

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