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- EXPERT IN BREAK BULK
“Being a seaman is a way of life which is for sure not for everybody.”
You might have seen that we find it important to show you - next to our services - the stories of our employees. Why? Because we think our employees make Vertraco the way Vertraco is. They make the difference. This time we will give you a special look into the life of one of our great captains, M. Schreuder. Captain of Mv Beautrader.
How did you end up at ECL/Vertom?
“In 2004 the vessel where I was sailing for - as master Mv Daniel - got sold. It was also chartered by Vertom and a relative from the owner of mv Daniel. After I told the first owner of the company (Rederij Beaumond) I was available after a couple of month’s, the owner visited me onboard in Turkey and asked me if I would like to continue sailing for him. So after we met again in the Netherlands, I started sailing for Rederij Beaumond. At this time the name has changed into Vertom Bereederung.”
Why did you become a captain?
“I think it's the way of life. When I was AB, I thought: this life is okay, I don’t want to do anything else. But my captain/owner told me that I could better go to school because he doesn't need a 40 year old Dutch AB. So I went to school and became a mate/engineer. Because the engine room is not really my thing, I quickly decided to only sail as chief mate. The trade I was working at was a very good learning school: lots of inland waterways sailing and a port every 2 days. Eventually I started sailing as a captain when I was 27 years old.”
“With everything that happens onboard, you always have the end responsibility.”
Where do you sail to? Is this a fixed route or do you sail to different destinations?
“First part of my career was only Europe, but now the main destinations are fixed because it is a liner trade. Her normal trade area is ARA – Spain - Guyana – Suriname – Trinidad – Venezuela. Occasionally we sail to other ports in Europe or in the Caribbean area.”
What is involved in ‘being a captain’? What do your activities consist of?
“With everything that happens onboard, you always have the end responsibility. This concerns the crew, cargo, vessel, normal operations, safety, cargo operations, schedules and more.”
M. Schreuder tells that the people who are performing their jobs on deck are mostly busy and could easily miss important things. That's why the captain is responsible for everything that is happening. “And we are not there yet. The administration and being a contact point for the entire crew is also part of my job. So when there is a question, argument, requirement or anything is needed, they will come to the captain. if there is friction between them or questions or requirements or when needed to point crew members on their failure or even worse when they are not up to the job to send them away. Manoeuvre the vessel: by far the best part of the job.”
Can you describe what a ‘normal day at work’ looks like?
“At sea life is easy. First hour (start at 08:00) is position reporting for charterer, weather support and Navigate Insight. After that I answer or prepare my e-mails. In the meanwhile you take control of the navigation. After I enjoyed a coffee break and did some more administration my shift ends (around 12:00).
I normally take a rest until 14:30, wake up and reply to emails which came in. At 20:00 my evening watch starts again, which I normally use to do more administration. And not to forget the main purpose: the navigation of the vessel.”
What do you like most?
“Manoeuvring the vessel! Before you start mooring or unmooring you know exactly what to do and how to do it. And when the job is done the same way as you thought it would be, it gives a thumbs up feeling. What I also like a lot is my evening watch: everybody who sailed at sea knows that the few stars you see in Holland (too much air pollution) is nothing compared to what you see at sea. It is like an explosion of small lights in the sky. And of course the dolphins always bring a smile on my face. There are many more things I like about my job but manoeuvring is number one.”
What do you like the least?
“The development in shipping has become a kind of chain reaction. In my opinion, it became a tendency to start sailing with a cheap labour crew a long time ago. And generally all education became less of quality. I also recognize that young officers only accept a quick career, which results in a lot of (near) accidents and even death's.
I also don’t like waiting or delays. I definitely chose the wrong sailing area, because a Caribbean hour could be 1 hour, but also 4 hours.
And then we have bad weather: it gives a mixed feeling. When you look outside and see your vessel fighting severe sea conditions, it is a really impressive view. You realize how small you are as a human. But the big downside of bad weather is you are not directly in bad weather: it takes time to develop and to reduce - which could take days with heavy rolling and pitching.”
If you should mention one thing about your career at ECL/Vertom you’ll never forget: what would it be?
“That would be the fact that we are all in this together. Together in the office and onboard of the vessel. Every voyage again, ECL shows this by supporting the crew, vessel and company by any means. This develops in a pleasant culture onboard: everybody wants to do one step extra for each other to end the year with a positive result. This is for sure one of the reasons I am sailing for ECL for a long time now. The feeling that I am part of the ECL-family where I feel appreciated and not just a number. This support I will never forget.”
"Being a seaman is a way of life which is for sure not for everybody."
What did your career looks like before ECL/Vertom?
“After I finished the seafarer school in IJmuiden, I started as AB on Mv Solon. After some advice from the owner, I went to seafarer school Delfzijl. After school I started with Denmark trade rio y mar. This captain owner sold his vessel and built a new small coaster alissa, where I sailed for a few years. After this, I was tired of the inland waterways. I wanted to sail at the real high seas so I changed to another captain, owner Mv Almenum. There I sailed a few years as chief mate and later master. This coaster got sold and I changed to bigger coaster Mv Daniel as you read before. This vessel was also sold and the last 17 years I have been sailing for the same owner. The name of the company changed 3 times but I am still here.”
Do you have something to add to this interview?
“I am lucky I can say that my profession is almost like a hobby. While being for a long time at home, it starts to itch to go back to sea. Some people would say: 'salt water is in the blood'. I don’t believe in this kind of thing, but being a seaman is a way of life which is for sure not for everybody. You have to adjust at all times and your home is also your work. And your work is your home. Today my home is around 25 degrees due to the heavy side swell. But maybe tomorrow my home is steady due to a smooth sea. Every day is a surprise again.”