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Staff at sea
The first time I worked aboard a Rickmers vessel was ten years ago, but under a different management. In 2004 I joined Rickmers directly as a second officer, was promoted to chief officer about six months later and finally to captain last year in August aboard RICKMERS ANTWERP. Looking back over my time at Rickmers, it feels like a marriage - a long term relationship that becomes stronger as every year passes.
Speaking of marriages, there are times when I feel more like a mother-in-law - a good mother-in-law though! There has to be a constant flow of information and I have to keep involved with everyone and everything. As a captain, the challenge is to make all sides happy and satisfied - the crew, company, charterer and shipper. There is something unexpected coming every day and you have to be ready to face it. I think two words reflect very well the challenges of working at sea "expect the unexpected". You're on board 24/7, and you can't close the door at 6 in the evening and say "see you tomorrow at 8".
One of our goals aboard is to operate the ship in the most energy-efficient way. Besides technical upgrades, there are various ways to influence fuel consumption. But since there are so many factors that have to be considered, energy efficiency is a lot about creating awareness and the right mind-set. You always have to find a balance of all variables, for example between choosing the best trim, using the sea currents, always being in touch with the chief engineer, but also meeting the arrival times at port. I always tell my crew to do exactly what they would do at home. When you leave the bathroom, you switch off the lights - in the end small things make a difference. Moreover, the support we receive from the shore-based teams helps us to keep a better eye on the actual facts and figures.
What also helps us to have more control and thereby increase efficiency, in other words decrease costs, is the One On/Off Model - not only for bunker, but for everything. When you come back to the same ship you know what you left here and you know what you will find and what you will need. Therefore I like the ship-centric approach, which makes us feel more involved, appreciated and closer to the onshore teams. Because, after all, everything is connected.