Captain’s Log – Manxman’s journey home
On Saturday 13th May 2023, Manxman began the long voyage home from Ulsan, South Korea to Douglas, Isle of Man. Senior Master, Captain Andy Atkinson, and his team responsible for the delivery voyage to Manx waters will be providing updates that will document the passage and provide some insight on each the locations the vessel visits along the way.
Saturday 13th May 2023
MANXMAN departed Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, Ulsan, Korea at 1452 (0652 in the Isle of Man), which was a little ahead of the 1500 scheduled departure. The pilot disembarked at 1532 and we were Full Away on Sea Passage to Singapore, our first stop on the way home, at 1550. Immediately after clearing Ulsan, we passed between the Korean city of Busan, and the Japanese island of Tsushima and continued to head South through the Korea Strait. By midnight, the ship had done its first 136 miles of the trip home.
Sunday 14th May 2023
A warm and sunny day at Sea in the East China Sea opened between the Korean island of Jeju and the southern islands of Japan. By midday we passed 200 miles east of Shanghai, and the mouth of the Yangtze River. By the evening, visibility had reduced to about 4 miles. Overall we sailed 405 miles throughout the day.
Monday 15th May 2023
At midday we entered the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and mainland China, which separates the East and South China seas. It’s about as wide as twice the distance from Heysham to Douglas. Today we covered 401 miles.
Tuesday 16th May 2023
Routine inspections found some slight fuel contamination. Safety is our first priority, so as a precaution we diverted towards Hong Kong to collect spare parts. Therefore today was spent awaiting Port Clearance to enter Hong Kong and arranging the supply of stores and some extra fuel. We spent the day in a holding position until we had the appropriate clearances from the Hong Kong authorities for our entry. As Hong Kong is an hour behind Korea, we put our clocks back today. We will do this seven more times on our way back home.
Wednesday 17th May 2023
Today we entered Hong Kong for our fuel and stores. At 1730 we anchored off the south east of Lamma Island. Bunkering fuel went well and by midnight we were preparing to depart. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated parts of the world: it has twice the area of the Isle of Man but has eighty eight times the population!
Thursday 18th May 2023
Our anchor was aweigh just after midnight, and we headed south resuming our voyage to Singapore. We’re now in the tropics, which is renowned for its warm and humid tropical weather conditions. By the end of the day we had completed 361 miles.
Friday 19th May 2023
Heading South we passed the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. These are known as the Chinese Maldives. The traffic’s getting busy; there’s lots of fishing boats offshore, as well as the shipping traffic between China and Singapore and Indonesia. Today we sailed 373 miles.
Saturday 20th May 2023
During the morning we passed 160 miles off Mekong River Delta, and as the day progressed moved further south until we were east of the Gulf of Thailand. The weather has been overcast, with light winds, thunderstorms and occasionally rainy squalls. This is characteristic weather of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, which was once known by sailors as “the doldrums”. The calmness of the winds used to be a hazard to sailing ships as they could get stuck in light winds. During the day we covered 382 miles.
Sunday 21st May 2023
This evening we arrived at the Port of Singapore, which is the world’s second-busiest port, and the world’s biggest ship refuelling centre. We’ll take a short break here to assess the ship’s systems after a good shakedown at sea on the voyage so far. Before we leave port we’ll also take on additional fuel for the next leg of the voyage, to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Sunday 28th May 2023
Leaving Singapore, we heaved our anchor aweigh at 0827. The pilot left by boat shortly after departure and we were on our way continuing our journey home west along the Singapore Strait. Singapore is an island country and city-state. After clearing the island, we passed the most southerly point of mainland Asia, Tanjung Piai, on the South Coast of the Malay Peninsula. As we followed the Singapore Strait into the Strait of Malacca, most of the day was following a Traffic Separation Scheme. This is a routing requirement for ships which lays down a determined lane for traffic in each direction – a bit like a road for ships. Closer to home, there’s a Traffic Separation Scheme on approach to Liverpool. In the afternoon we passed the historic trading port of Malacca. By the end of the day the Straits were opening up as we followed a route 40 miles off the east coast of Sumatra Island, Indonesia.
Monday 29th May 2023
Before we get to Colombo, we will gradually put our clocks back 2½ hours, so this morning we put them back one hour. Although the sea room has opened up, there’s still a few ships heading the same way or in the opposite direction. On our way home we’re following the Spice Routes, also known as the Maritime Silk Roads. They are the most direct routes between the Far East and Europe by sea. It would take about a quarter of a million trips for the Manxman to carry the amount of trade which flows between the East Asia and Europe each year. Just before midnight we passed south of the Nicobar Islands, and over the course of the day we have steamed 430 miles.
Tuesday 30th May 2023
Our clocks went back again one hour this morning. As we crossed the Indian Ocean, just outside the Bay of Bengal, we hit a milestone on our way home at we crossed the 090°E meridian. Meridians of longitude run North to South, like the segments of an orange, and describe where in the world you are in east or west direction, relative to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. 090°E means that we are east of London, and half way between there and the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Because they’re shaped like orange segments, they don’t tell us a lot about distance without also knowing our latitude, as they’re wider apart at the equator and meet at the poles. On our way back we will cross the Greenwich meridian in the Mediterranean Sea, and carry further on to about 9° 51’W, as we pass off the coast of Lisbon and head up the Atlantic towards the English Channel. Douglas’s longitude is 004° 28’W.
Wednesday 31st May 2023
We put our clocks back again by half an hour this morning. At around 04:00 this morning ship’s time (22:30 IOM time) Manxman was approximately 350Nm to the nearest point of land (half way between Sri Lanka and Indonesia). With the expected routes between each of the next ports this means that this was the furthest point from land that Manxman will be on the delivery voyage. It also means that given Manxman’s expected future sailing schedule this would have been the furthest point from land that Manxman will ever be in the ship’s lifetime. Apart from one or two ships around us at the time, the next closest humans would be those orbiting the earth in the International Space station, at around 220Nm above us.
Thursday 1st June 2023
We reached Colombo today. The pilot boarded just after 0800 and we were alongside made fast to the cruise berth by 0912. This was just a quick stop for us to take stores and fuel for our onwards journey, so we departed again at 1900 towards Muscat, in Oman.
Friday 2nd June 2023
At about 0800 we passed approximately 20 miles off Cape Comorin (Kanniyakumari), the most southerly tip of mainland India. At 2230 we entered the Nine Degree Channel. Named because it passes across the 09°N parallel of latitude, separating Minicoy Island and the rest of the Lakshadweep Islands. During the course of today, we travelled 350 miles.
Friday 3rd June 2023
We put our clocks back half an hour this morning, as Muscat is an hour and a half behind Colombo. As we left the Nine Degree Channel, we passed South West of the Indian Lakshadweep Islands which are in the Arabian Sea between the Maldives and mainland India. The name Lakshadweep means ‘One hundred thousand islands’, but our charts show that there aren’t really that many. In the evening, the crew gathered in the mess to watch the start of the TT races – it’s a shame to be away from it but we look forward to being part of it next year!