Career change, 1993
Second winter in the Gulf of Botnia. Sailing between the North Sea and Sweden with timber and paper reels as cargo.
The ship was fine but the work was boring. I had enough of sailing in ice and cold weather and was dreaming about working in warmer regions.
One day, stuck in the ice and waiting for the icebreaker, I was reading a newspaper article about building an airport in Hong Kong.
For the large fleet of dredgers, they were looking for qualified officers. I had good memories of Hong Kong. During my time as a cadet, it was the home base of the cargo ship I sailed on. Many days (…and money…) I spend there sightseeing and shopping. Each port call we stayed there for about two weeks.
Yes, I wanted to go back there.
The next time, the vessel arrived in Rotterdam, I signed of and paid a visit to several dredging companies in Belgium and the Netherlands. They all offered a good contract, and the wages were much higher then on the cargo ships.
I choose for a Dutch, family owned, company as they promised fast promotion. The dredger, for which I was planned, was already underway to Hong Kong, so in the meantime they send me as a second mate to a ship that was working on the island of Texel.
In college, we learned everything about cargo ships. Dredgers, tugboats, or other work vessels were never mentioned. Therefore, I did not know what to expect. I had seen dredgers working in ports and inland canals and they were muddy, rusty, small, and noisy.
From Den Helder, we sailed out with a fast boat to sea, and I kept on looking around for a muddy and rusty boat.
After an hour, I saw a big ship on the horizon. It looked like a tanker to me, but to my surprise the crew boat was heading for it, and we went alongside.
My dredging career was about to start.