21 July 07

Sugar, sugar everywhere and how the boards did stick

Perhaps I'll come back and introduce my ship and such some other time. First: sugar calls.

We are discharging mountains of sugar, over 34,000 tons, I said mountains. Discharging sugar is about the messiest job I have ever seen. Using purpose made cranes the sugar is scooped up in buckets on a belt transferred to a belt and whisked off over the ship to the silos ashore but not before sprinkling a light dust of sugar all over the ship.

My watch starts at midnight and about three in the morning the dew begins to settle across the ship and across the sugar, now the ship is covered in damp sugar. Everything is covered, the deck, handrails, hatches, ladders, mooring lines, winches, everything. After discharging for a few days it is impossible to walk out on deck without becoming sticky with sugar, despite the steps on the ladders being slick with sugar I dare not touch the handrails as my hands will then be coated with sugar too.

This sugar looks like the 'Sugar in the Raw' you find in cafes. (it tastes the same too - I have been putting it in my coffee) Our five holds were filled to the top before we began discharging four days ago with cranes from ashore. These cranes look like nothing else, a big arm extends from the dock with a vertical arm at its end and a cage with an operator on the end of that. Because the sugar is sticky with molasses it clumps together rather than flowing like sand and so an operator will use a back hoe on the end of the crane to scrape sugar to the hungry mouth of this machine.

I am afraid that my writing might not be what it could be but I have been working 12 to 14 hour days and from midnight until noon or beyond and my body isn't liking this transition. I promise better writing in the future.