Saturday, September 17, 2005
At 8 in the morning we are picked up at the hotel by the
minibus and driven over the harbour bridge to the gate of
the free port.
It is a sunny but rather fresh morning, temperatures only
The agent of the company organised that Ruedi's father
Max can come with us to the "Matisse" and have a look at
Max would have loved to stay too.
But like most of the companies CMA CGM doesn't have a doctor
on board and only take passenger up to the age of 70 years
so he has to leave again.
View towards the front of the "Matisse".
Even though the containers are loaded by large cranes in
the harbour the "Matisse" has his own cranes and therefore
can also load and unload in smaller harbours without facilities.
Ruedi and Hans Peter are fascinated by the technique and
the precision of the loading and unloading.
It takes aprox. 1 minute and 10 seconds to unload or load
In Hamburg the containers are transported by large stackers.
The containers are stored in precise order and when loaded
their position is noted exactly and the details passed on
to the crew.
Click here to see the handling of containers.
At 1 PM we leave the harbour and start floating down the
Even though the temperature has risen to now 16°C it feels
very cold because of the windshield factor.
At Blankenese Ruedi's father Max is waiting for us and
waves far well from the roof of the ferry terminal.
The ride down the Elbe takes the rest of the afternoon.
With a stunning sunset our fist night on board begins.
The night is not very peaceful. Strong winds give the vessel
quiet a bit of a roll.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
We arrive at Rotterdam at aprox. 10 AM.
It is a bit overcast but the temperature is higher than in
Hamburg, we see close to 20°C.
We ride into the city but are informed that there is no more
sight-seeing tours at this time of the year as the tourist
season is over.
But a tour of the harbour is suggested as Rotterdam is the
largest harbour of Europe.
This way we get a good view of the "Matisse" from the water.
We also realise how small our vessel is with its 195 meters
comparing with other container vessels, some of them even
exceeding 300 meter.
We return to the "Matisse" before the night falls as we
are not familiar with the process and have no paper proving
that we actually are passengers on that vessel.
But all goes well and we get safely on board again.
The whole night through containers are loaded.
Monday, September 19, 2005
We leave Rotterdam at dawn in direction of Dunkerque.
The weather is perfect, the sunrise absolutely beautiful.
The temperate is already at 16°C.
We reach Dunkerque in the middle of the afternoon.
The specialty of Dunkerque is that the pilot is brought on
aboard with the helicopter.
Click here to view the movie.
Due to the short stay at Dunkerque we can not leave the
So we have plenty of time to enjoy the last apero with Alain
and Elizabeth that will be disembarking in Le Havre.
Every evening and morning Ruedi is busy collecting data
from the trip e.g. taking the position, reading the temperature,
the air pressure and if there is a storm also the wind.
Another remarkable sunset .....
We leave Dunkerque shortly before midnight.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Le Havre, France
The arrival in Le Havre shortly after 8 AM is not very spectacular
as there is fog and clouds.
Even though the temperature is at 17°C it feels unpleasant.
Still it is impressive to see the cliffs and think that during
the second world war the allied troops had similar cliffs
in front of them.
We glide into the largest harbour of France.
The water level of the main harbour is kept constant by
only allowing ships in through a lock.
We are allowed from board and even are not disturbed while
taking pictures from the "Matisse".
Normally everybody gets nervous if we want to take pictures
on the dock.
In Le Havre the majority of the crew is exchanged. We will
for certain not miss the chef de cuisine ....
Also the passengers Alain and his wife Elizabeth leave, Roger
is the new-joiner.
Provisions for the whole trip around the world are taken
on board as Le Havre is the home port of CMA CGM.
Only fresh fruits and veggies are bought where required.
Work does not stop at dusk.
The containers are loaded during the whole night.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Atlantic, West of France (N 49, W 4)
Early in the morning in dense fog we leave Le Havre in direction
of the Atlantic ocean.
It is a strange feeling to glide blindly through this mist
solely trusting the radar and the expertise of the pilot.
The day turns into a sunny day with almost no swell, temperatures
raise up to 20°C again.
In the afternoon we are south of England, still travelling
in a heavily sailed route out to the Atlantic ocean.
On one of the frequent visits to the bridge (it is really
interesting up there, always something to be asked or seen!)
the path of the "Matisse" gets close to an area where the
British army is having an exercise with a submarine.
It is interesting to follow the radio calls of the army and
see the army vessels cruise around.
The new captain is strait forward and has a good sense of
He has a subtle way of displaying his authority. It shows
in little things like the way his crew shows up for the meals
The captain wears uniform and epaulettes for lunch and dinner.
Yesterday evening, their first meal together, they all showed
up when and how they wanted.
Today at lunch they already came at the same time and most
of them wore their white uniform shirts.
In the evening all but one had their white shirts on.
We passengers also get our training:
The first thing we learn is how to put on the rescue suit.
With this suit one can survive in cold water for days if
Also man-over-board and what to do in case of a fire is a
At dusk we go to the bridge to talk to the officers and
see where we are.
On the radar we see a ship, same size, same speed on collision
course with us.
The other vessel comes from the right side and is supposed
to change course, but somehow they have no intentions to
The alarm goes off and the captain shows up on the bridge.
After a short glance at the instruments he talks a few words
to the officer and leaves again.
Some more officers show up, but all leave again.
There seems to be no immediate danger ...
Still no changes in the course of the other vessel.
The officer says that we still have 20 minutes before collision,
Then the other vessel corrects its course to cross our path
The course of the "Matisse" also is corrected, also to cross
The radar starts sending the alarm "bow cross" and we cross
with only 1,8 km between the 2 ships, both at 20 knots.
This is very exciting for us, but obviously daily business
for the crew .....
During the night the clocks are changed from GMT +2 to GMT
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Atlantic, latitude Canary Islands (N 46, W 16)
We have now reached the open ocean. The "Matisse"
is sailing at full speed, aprox. 21,5 knots.
The weather is not so good, gray in gray at 18°C.
During the day we reach the Golf stream.
The temperature raises above 20°C and even in the wind it
does not feel cold anymore.
Later on rain and strong winds set in.
The waves get higher and start having white caps.
Slowly but surely we get used to the constant rolling and
The sundown makes up for the day ....
Again the clocks need to be adjusted by 1 hour, we are now
Friday, September 23, 2005
Atlantic, latitude west Azores Islands (N 44,
The sun raises to a beautiful day with already 19°C at 7
in the morning.
The waves have calmed down enough that we are allowed to
visit the bow of the vessel.
There are still some nice large sprays happening when the
vessel hits a proper wave in the correct angle.
Fun, fun, fun .....
We are informed that during the night we will hit a storm,
our first storm.
Swell up to 5 meters is expected so the Maître d'hôtel asks
us to stow away all our gear.
The dishes in the salon are also locked away and all is secured.
We decide to do our washing before the storm as we don't
know how long it will last and the next storm is expected
We have to be careful that we don't get sea-sick in the hot
and sticky room.
The sundown promises bad weather for the next day.
Again the clocks get adjusted by 1 hour to GMT -1.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Atlantic, southern tip of Greenland (N 43, W
During the night the pitching and rolling gets worse and
At times one got the impression that one will fall out of
The vessel shakes and the containers squeak.
At 2 in the morning there is loud bang followed by metallic
Thinking that we have either hit a container floating in
the water or lost a container in the heavy swell we go to
the bridge to have a look.
But it is "only" a breaker that has hit us head-on.
The speed is reduced from 21 knots to 18 and the banging
of the waves stops almost completely.
At 4 in the morning we get hit a second time and the speed
is reduced even further.
At dawn we go to the bridge to have a good look at the storm
and how the vessel rocks and rolls.
The second captain informs us that the speed is now only
During the night the max. rolling we have seen is 22 degrees,
nice but not really much for a vessel like the "Matisse".
The second captain shows us pictures from a storm the "Matisse"
had hit 2 journey ago, where they rolled 38 degrees.
They were walking with one leg on the wall and one leg on
It took them 2 weeks to fix all that was broken .....
The "Matisse" (according to the second captain) can take
a max. of 50 degrees rolling.
But we don't really want to experience that .....
The storm lasts for most of the day and we have lots of
time to watch the vessel riding out the waves and wonder
that nothing breaks.
Click here to view the storm as seen from the bridge.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Atlantic, latitude west of Newfoundland (N 42,
Sunday wakes up to a stormy day with only 14°C and lots
Sundays are special days on the "Matisse".
Breakfast already starts with chocolate croissant.
For lunch the captain offers a fine Chablis from his cellar
and the Maître d'hôtel offers a Cabernet-Sauvignon from Romania,
his home country.
Main course is duck brest in orange sauce and rice.
Desert today is not just cheese and fruit, no, it is a chocolate
brownie cake with vanilla cream!
Even the siesta is listed as a menu item ....
Before dinner we celebrate the anniversary of one of the
Apero is served at the passengers salon and we get to meet
the whole crew.
We provide the Swiss chocolate as a gift.
Dinner again is a feast.
With Xavier as chef we all quickly gain weight. The captain
is already considering to skip lunch so he can indulge
in Xavier's cooking in the evening.
Here the 3 of us together with the cook Xavier.
Thanks Xavier for the excellent food that you have provided,
even if snails and similar items not really are our favorites
Again we have travelled 1000 km an the time is corrected
by 1 hour to GMT -2.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Atlantic, latitude Halifax (N 40, W 59)
The weather has improved dramatically and we wake up to
a sunny day with 17°C
As the weather is so good we take a stroll to the end of
the boat with Hans Peter.
The crew is painting an d repairing the vessel getting it
into shape for the visit of the American authorities.
We can't go to the bow because of this. Well, there will
be more opportunities after the Panama Channel.
In the evening there is an apero again.
One of the cadets is promoted to lieutenant and everybody
It is custom that during the apero the epaulettes are handed
A very proud lieutenant agrees to have his photo taken.
Of course he also gets his choice of Swiss chocolate as a
The captain asks, what he needs to do to get some Swiss chocolates
During the night the time is adjusted by another hour to
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Atlantic, latitude east from Boston (N 40, W
During the night the winds pick up to gail force.
Even though the temperature in the early morning is already
23°C it feels cold in the storm.
Click here to view the storm from the saloon.
The wind has an incredible force!
Click here to view the movie.
To avoid loosing her glasses Susi has to wear the hood to
be able to take photos.
Just before lunch we hit a rainstorm.
The rain is so strong it feels like somebody is throwing
water against the windows with a bucket.
Later on the weather improves and the forecast for the arrival
in New York is for nice weather.
One more time the watches need adjusting by one hour to
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
New York, USA
We could not have picked a better day to arrive in New York:
not one cloud and 20°C!
The views are stunning ....
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge ...
Everybody gathers at the bridge once we reach Manhattan.
The New Jersey side with the Statue of Liberty .....
... Manhattan and Brooklyn .....
While having lunch 3 ladies pop into the dining room and
one introduces herself as Virginia, the chaplin of the local
She offers to take us to town and drops us at the Hotel Hilton
right beside Ground Zero.
While the "Path" station has been reopened in September 2002,
the big whole still remains ....
We take the bus and go on tour.
Looks like the company used Google to translate the instructions
We cruise along many buildings and also 42nd-Street ...
... the Empire State Building, etc. etc. ....
We get off at "Pier 17" on South Street and enjoy the views
of the "Matisse" being unloaded ....
... Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge ...
... Manhattan ...
When coming back to the Hilton for pick-up we find this
He was keeping watch while behind some TV-crews were preparing
stories about the building that will be built on Ground Zero
and the controversial opinions on it.
Some want to build the world's highest building, some (incl.
Hillary Clinton) are in favour of rebuilding the Twin Towers
as it was.
Shortly after 11 PM it is time to say "Goodbye"
to New York.