Thursday, January 31, 2013


Dear readers, you may have noticed that I've fallen somewhat behind with my blogging of late. Sorry. Unfortunately that will continue to be the case for the next three weeks when there will be no more updates. The reason is a happy one though, because I will have succeeded in my plan to cross the Pacific without flying. I will be aboard a container ship bound from Australia to North America, embarking here in New Zealand, and alighting in Cartagena, Colombia, just past the Panama Canal. Many people have asked me how I arranged such a thing and whether I will be working aboard. Sadly, gone are the days when you could just turn up at a port and ask around the ships to see if they would be willing to take you as a deckhand for free passage and board. These days the sums of money too large and bureaucracy too stifling* to allow anything like that to happen. Instead you have to pass via dedicated freighter travel agents who facilitate the booking of a limited number of berths on regular cargo routes (and when I say regular I mean that there may be only one or two sailings a month) plied by transcontinental container ships. The number of available spaces is small, but then again not many people want to travel in this manner. Not only does it take substantially longer than flying (19 days instead of 19 hours), but it's even significantly more expensive. My ticket to Colombia is costing roughly twice the equivalent air fare. Instead container ships are for those who stubbornly refuse to fly, are concerned about their carbon footprint (an extra person aboard a container ship has no effect on the amount of fuel used), or perhaps have a shed-load of stuff to take with them (I get 150kg free baggage allowance - it's just a shame I'm going to Colombia rather than from, otherwise I could have defrayed my costs by taking along some of the country's choice export products). Nevertheless I am sure it will be an adventure and certainly a unique travel experience, though perhaps somewhat monotonous. Yet I have prepared myself for that and have several hundred books with me and over a hundred films as well, so should be able to while away the hours at sea. I suppose it's also a good opportunity to see whether I really get seasick or not...

Distance marker in Auckland. So I will be covering a little over 12,000km in the next three weeks.

*Among the hoops I had to jump through to book this passage (the process was started back in the start of December) was to prove I had insurance, have a medical certificate, and even have my name sent off to the US Department of Homeland Security. I'm now on their books and am looking forward to the American visa application process.


Anonymous said...

Erik, this is stelios. I hope you made it safe to the other side of the water! I wish you all the best in your wild adventure and keep up posted, buddy.

grasya said...

simply awesome. i really do wish to do land and sea travel around the world.. hopefully i can follow your footsteps.