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Farewell to the Bright Sky
At breakfast, I say goodbye to the Captain and his wife. He is off today, and they want to take a catamaran tour and photograph seals, pelicans and – maybe – dolphins. The farewell makes me sad. We got along really well, be it on the bow balcony while taking pictures or talking at the dinner table or on the bridge.
Robert promises to bring my luggage ashore. The harbour agent of the shipping company and I arrange to meet at ten to ten. He will take me to the gate.
I say goodbye to the cook and thank him for the good Polish food. He is happy and wishes me all the best.
I then pack the rest of my belongings. Finally, my luggage is ready. Two suitcases, a bulging travel bag, a photo case, a big backpack. I look again into all cupboards and drawers. They are empty. I haven’t forgotten anything.
I still have half an hour and stand at the window of the cabin, watching as the ship is unloaded further. The trucks from the hold in front of my cabin are all gone. The hatch is closed. The cranes now work further forward and lift containers ashore. The crew operates the ship’s crane and lifts thick steel plates from the second cargo hold.
There is a knock on my door. Robert is ready. This time he has to carry the luggage down all the floors. The worst part is on the somewhat shaky gangway. But then my luggage stands on the land. I say goodbye to Robert and walk down the gangway of the Bright Sky. Below I turn around again and look back at the ship, the ship’s building up to the balconies on the bridge. I say goodbye. Above, on the flagpole of the bridge, the Namibian flag flutters. I have arrived.
The port agent arrives and loads my luggage. His car is small, and we have to pack back and forth, but finally, everything is inside.
My sister-in-law Lettie and her friend Petro pick me up at the harbour gate. We almost forget that I still have to go to immigration. I need a stamp in my passport. We drive to the office of the immigration authority, where I fill out the form. The gum-chewing officer has her cell phone on her ear, but at the same time, she is processing my papers, and finally, she puts a stamp in my passport. Now I am officially a resident of Namibia.
As we drive from the harbour to downtown Walvis Bay, I can see the cranes and the shipbuilding of the Bright Sky again through the houses and stacked containers. Then Lettie turns into a side street. We drive east, away from the sea, the harbour and the ship.
“I remember the first three months, the way it felt, when my first crewmates left, how long it felt like I’d already been here, how long ago that was. I can barely remember what Terry, Samantha and Anton looked like, what their mannerisms are, or what their voices sound like, the sound of Samantha humming. Like old friends who drifted away long ago, they are now a distant memory.”Scott Kelly – Endurance
It’s been a few months now. Everyday life in Namibia has occupied me completely. Not only did I have to attend the renovation of our future house, but I also had to deal with complicated customs declarations for our container.
To make matters worse, I broke my leg in the first few days and had to walk around for six weeks in an orthosis and on crutches.
Despite all these things, I think about the Bright Sky every day. After all, I had thousands of photos to edit. Then the text for this report had to be written. That also made me think wistfully of my journey with the ship, wistfully, because it was an extraordinary and beautiful journey.
I am happy that I could experience this journey and I would like therefore to thank all those who were with me on the ship:
- Pierre, with whom I had many, sometimes controversial, but always good discussions, above all for the thought-provoking impulse he gave me on the subject of “Experience/Knowledge”. This impulse has changed me, and the change makes my life richer.
- The Captain, who brought me closer to wildlife photography with his enthusiasm and explained the procedures on the ship to me in many conversations.
- The Captain’s wife. Unfortunately, we could not talk, but she enriched our conversations at the table by telling interesting facts that her husband translated.
- The Chief Engineer and his colleagues from the engine room, who impressed me with their machines,
- The officers on the bridge for their patience with us passengers,
- The cook who introduced me to Polish cuisine in an extraordinarily flavourful way
- Robert, for his kind care,
- And all the other sailors on board:
Whatever ships you sail on, I wish you always a handwidth of water under your keel.
My thanks are also due to:
- The first captain in Hamburg, a gentleman with a lot of humour.
- The German engineer in Hamburg, who has explained to me the complexity of the engine damage in such a way that even I understood it,
- As well as the cargo agent in Antwerp, who described the loading of such a large ship so clearly to me.
Would you like to see an overview of all articles about my journey on the cargo ship Bright Sky? Click here for a table of contents.