Every week the mooring equipment on Viking Rosella is checked, but it still happens that hawsers break. Sun, cold and seawater wear the materials and it is sometimes difficult to know when it is time to change the hawsers. The securing straps on the vehicle deck are used more sporadically and manage better.
There are piles of hawsers coiled on the deck. Repairs can be seen here and there in the coarse ropes.
”We try to keep costs down by shortening and splicing quite a lot,” says the chief mate, Anders Aspholm. ”But if something starts to look too worn we replace it directly – we don’t take any chances.”
The winter sun warms slightly and the water is still. On a day like this is not necessary to have any extra mooring ropes to keep Rosella in place at the quay in Kapellskär outside Norrtälje. But the weather can turn quickly and with more arrivals each day there is a lot of wear on the equipment.
”We always moor in the same place with the starboard side against the quay, and the hawsers always wear in the same place in the hawsehole,” says Anders. ”We have extra protection where they have the most friction, but they still wear.”
“It is sometimes difficult to decide when it is time to change a hawser,” says Anders. He tells us that according to the maintenance program, Amos, the mooring equipment is checked through once a week and equipment is replaced between these checks if necessary. And yet hawsers still break occasionally. ”Yes, they do. During a very windy autumn a hawser may break every month if we have bad luck, but as far as I know, there is nobody here onboard who has been injured in connection with such a break. Cables may also break, but then it is most often inside the swab.”
Most mooring ropes used on the Rosella are traditional Atlas types.
”Atlas hawsers are rather awkward and difficult to work with,” says Anders. ”On more modern boats where everything is motorised, they are OK. But here, where they have to be pulled by hand and put over the bollards on the deck, it is heavy work.” On the quarterdeck, the hawsers are reinforced by straps in the part that runs through the hawsehole. Anders explains that a few years ago, a couple of seamen in the crew put straps into the hawsers to strengthen them in places with a lot of wear. He lifts a hawser that is lying loose on the deck and shows how it is done.
”You pull the strands apart and put the strap between them,” he says and opens the hawser. ”In this way it becomes much stronger. The guys that thought of this were given a reward by the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation for their invention.”
The vehicle deck below is empty apart from a provisions truck, which is driving off after unloading the goods. Along the bulkheads there are a few securing straps, but they do not need to be used on many crossings.
”We have perhaps five trailers of the week, an average of four HGV trucks per journey and sometimes we strap stands in place. But there is much less lashing now than there was before when Rosella used to cross between Helsinki and Tallinn,” says Anders.
The crossing to Åland takes two and a half hours and there is not so much open sea. But the load still needs to be secured at times.
”We get weather reports all the time and if the wind approaches 13 or 14 metres a second, it is time to do the lashing. If it has been windy for long, the sea may be very old too. We have no stabilizers and she rolls like a soap-dish in the sea,” says Anders.
”At the moment it is calm, but we have reports that the wind may get harder towards the afternoon so we might need to lash the cargo yet. We try to secure the load as the vehicles drive on board, but if there are many on the crossing it can be difficult to keep up.”
Anders says that they follow the instructions in the cargo securing manual, which is available in several copies onboard. The most recent version is dated May 2012 and contains everything, from descriptions of various lashing techniques to the checking and maintenance of materials.
”There is a lot of very good information in it,” says Anders. ”But to be frank, we don’t often look at it. Those who work here know how to do it, but of course, if there is a new mate we show him where the manual is kept.”
”There is not as much lashing now as there used to be”