Do you want to work on a ship?

Friday (June 23rd) was the second and last day of the 3rd Conference of the Economics of the Sea Journal, and I was pleased to have the chance to talk to the President of Apormar, the Maritime Machine Engineer officer Álvaro Sardinha, who very kindly clarified many of my doubts about the Maritime transport market.

It is easy to board as a trainee?

As a student of the maritime sciences course and future finalist (I am now in the second year of three), one of the concerns we all have is our year of boarding as a trainee.

And no, it is not easy to arrange boarding, nothing worthwhile in life is. You can not wait until the oportunity arrives at your door step, you have to make an effort to have it.

But if you want to be an Officer, don’t give up! Álvaro Sardinha, who only finished his degree at the age of 49, was able to board as a trainee on a passenger ship.

Sending out my resume isn’t enough? read more

Nautical Charts- The maps of the sea

Every day that goes by I’m one step closer to departing to the sea, which is by far one of my biggest dreams. There are no words to describe how happy I feel for being able to study something I really like. 😀

I decided to write this article to share one of the most fun activities of my course, which is to learn how to work with nautical charts.

Nautical charts are the maritime equivalent of terrestrial maps. They are cartographic representations of the sea, represented in diverse forms with diverse scales.

They aim to locate the seafarers and demonstrate the characteristics of a particular site, such as depths, characteristics of the funds, marine traffic corridors, relevant points on the coast, buoys, etc …

In a perfect world we would be able to use globes, since they are the most faithful representation of the earth. However to be able to demonstrate large scales they would have to be gigantic, which makes their use impracticable.

There are several ways of representing the earth in a paper, however, in the sea, these are the most used letters:

Mercator’s chart:

It’s the one we use the most because it is, in a rough way, a representation that allows the course of the ship to be marked in straight lines.

Gnomonic charts:

These charts use as a projection surface a plane tangent to the earth’s surface. This ones present all kinds of earth deformations.

The instruments used for the readings and measurements on the chart are the compasses that can be straight or curved and the squares.

Curved compass:
read more

My celestial navigation classes

Celestial navigation is still to this day a tool used by seamen to check, whithout the need of electrical appliances, their position while out in the ocean. That’s why this is one of my classes in my nautical sciences degree. In this article i won’t go to deep on the calculations themselves, I’ll just talk a little about the class.

Usually we only determine our position based on the sun since the lessons are at 1300 (1 o’clock pm). This observation is quite simple, since all we have to do is measure how high the sun is (from the horizon) and with the help from nautical almanacs we do the math.

This past Monday, May 21st, me and my classmates had lesson at night, which started at 2000, so we could try determine our position from the stars.

Determining how high the stars are was harder for multiple reasons:
• We need to measure the height of three different stars so we can intersect their directions;
• We need to be sure of what star we are measuring so we can later look it up in the nautical almanac;
• Observations can be hampered by meteorology, sometimes even impossible;
• The observation as to take place during twilight, in order to be both dark enough to see the stars and clear enough to see the horizon.

Instruments needed to determine our astronomical position: read more

Port of Sines and Tugboats

It was in the scope of our Physics-Chemistry class that we went on a field trip to the Port of Sines, since it is the most significant merchant port in Portugal and the one who moves more cargo annually. More than 50% of the maritime cargo that moves nationally goes through there. As far as energy products are concerned (fuels and such), that percentage goes up to 74 %.

Due to its strategic location and depth of waters (28 meters), its able to welcome any kind of existing ship and move any kind of cargo. Sines is in the TOP 100 worldclass container ports.

In the beginning of the tour we attended a lecture about the port where the lecturer assured us that they would keep betting on the expansion and competitiveness of the port. After that we went on a bus tour to visit all the shipping terminals.

Despite all the interesting aspects of our morning, the best part of the visit was after lunch, when we were given the chance to board and visit one of the most powerful tugboats we have in the country. Tugboats are extremely powerful boats, whose job is to assist ships when they break down or when manoeuvring in the port. This boats can also be used to fight fires and provide other kinds of assistance.

When visiting the tugboat, we started in the engine room, where we were informed that the ship has a 5000 horse power Rolls Royce engine. After that we went up to check the crew’s quarters. When we arrived at the bridge, we were shown all the controls and we learned how to manoeuvre the tugboat.

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All of us were given a chance to manoeuvre it and when it was my turn, I obviously loved it. They are so flexible and manoeuvrable, they can turn 360º and start moving astern quite easily and in no time.

At the end of the visit we still went to the fire station and to the port’s VTS building (vessel traffic services).