The flotel Edda Fides has been back in home waters for a while now, after finishing work in Malaysia. The months-long sail back from Asia is, however, worth sharing, proving unusually demanding due to closed ports and a worldwide pandemic.
Inge Hansen Brekke (54) captained the first part of the journey. He entered Edda Fides for the first time in November 2019, shortly after the last assignment was finished in the Malaysian sector, and while the company worked intensely to secure new contracts. After a break at home at Karmøy, Brekke was back on board in February, shortly before the company decided to return the hotel ship back to Europe, while still working on securing contracts for the vessel.
In Labuan, Malaysia, the hull was cleaned by divers, and the vessel and its crew of 17 prepared for departure. In early March, they weighed anchor and set course west and north. We weren’t in a hurry. We planned the voyage for optimal fuel consumption, using mostly just one engine and maintaining a speed of five knots until we rounded South Africa, says Brekke. The first leg of the voyage went to Singapore, where they had
planned a crew change.
– It couldn’t be done. The corona pandemic had reached Singapore. But we loaded provisions and bunkered up before sailing to Port Dickson in the Strait of Malacca. There we were allowed, barely, to change the Norwegian part of our crew. We arrived shortly before they closed down completely. We anchored up outside the harbour, and things went relatively smoothly.
– And what about the Philippine part of the crew?
– They were not allowed onshore and had to stay on board all the
way to Norway.
SOUTH AFRICA CLOSED
They reached Mauritius in four weeks. Another crew change was planned here, and Brekke himself was to step ashore. Underway, however, they received indications that this might prove difficult, and as they approached the archipelago, their fears were confirmed. Sailing into the harbor, they found it closed, along with the rest of the island.
– Again, they managed to secure provisions. At that point, we were on high alert with regards to contagion. We wore full protective equipment and thoroughly disinfected every piece of provision brought on board, even placing it in quarantine. We accepted no risk, he says.
– But back at sea, how was life on board sailing at five knots?
– We made the most of it, and the spirits on board were high. We arranged barbecues on the pool deck and were very social. Along the way, we arranged line-crossing ceremonies. Six of the crew-members had never crossed the equator, and that occasion has to be celebrated. So naturally, King Neptune and his followers came aboard for the ceremony. The crew survived and had to walk the plank at the end, though thankfully, into the pool. It lifted our spirits. We also managed to complete a fair bit of maintenance on board.
– The next port of call was in South Africa?
– We never reached it. We had a course for Durban but were told it was impossible. Cape Town was the next possibility. A container was waiting for us there, sent from Norway to Singapore then Cape Town. The plan was to get it on board and change the crew again. On approach, however, we had
to resign ourselves to the fact that it couldn’t be done. Not least because the airport was closed; no flights were coming in or going out. At the same time, the crew agreed that it was probably for the best not to go ashore here, given the Corona situation.
NEXT: THE CANARY ISLANDS
– We sailed on while assessing possible ports of call along the African coast. At last, we and the company agreed that the best thing to do was to set a course for the Canary Islands. We knew then that it could prove difficult getting flights home from here. Because of the circumstances, we’d have to face a very circuitous route home, having to stay at hotels in several «red» countries along the way. Naturally, we were overjoyed when a solution presented itself. Another shipping company was changing their crew in the Canaries and had chartered a flight to Amsterdam. There was room on
the flight for us. We were very happy with this solution, and with the company for making it happen for us. So we flew to Amsterdam and then directly to Oslo. It went without any issues, he says, having at that time been on board for 12 weeks.
CAPTAIN EINAR LINGA TAKES THE HELM
On the 19th of May, Edda Fides arrived in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, and a crew change could finally go through for the Norwegian crew. Captain Brekke went ashore, and Einar Linga took command as the ship continued northward.
– The weather was fair throughout the voyage. We felt safe, knowing the precautions taken back home. We didn’t feel too bad, says Brekke.
Inge Hansen Brekke has sailed all categories of ships in the company’s portfolio. We ask him if there is any type of vessel he likes more than others.
– For me, the work is the same. I had just as many interesting challenges in my time captaining the company’s tugs. There was a lot of sailing and activity on the supply ships as well, not to mention subsea. I’m very happy on these ships too, he says from his kitchen counter in Avaldsnes.
FACTS EDDA FIDES:
Edda Fides is fixed to Equinor for support at the Hammerfest LNG plant.
In addition to securing a new contract, Edda Accommodation just entered into a refinancing agreement that will provide the company with more financial flexibility in the time ahead.
Edda Fides is an offshore Accommodation Service Vessel (ASV), since the company started taking orders in 2011, has had assignments in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, Australia, the Gulf of Mexico and lately, Malaysia.
The ship is 130 meters long with accommodation for 600 people in single and double cabins.
Edda Fides is a DP3 vessel, is equipped with a heave-compensated gangway that is lifted by an adjustable pedestal, making it possible to land the gangway from 13,5 to 32,5 meters.