Monday, October 17, 2016

Bringing the Beer

Walking in Suva
It was raining in Fiji. Well, not raining all day, but in the afternoon it pretty much rained constantly. As a result, after a pleasant self-guided walking tour of Suva in the morning, the rain in the afternoon convinced us to stay on the ship. As well, the ship’s “Location Guides” did not make the location sound very safe with warnings to ‘Not go out alone.”, “Not to wear any jewelry”, and “Definitely DO NOT walk anywhere at night.”

Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands, is a large city, and the ship docks in a VERY busy container pier. Our balcony overlooked the acres of containers on the pier and the city beyond. Fortunately it was a Monday and there was a container ship being loaded and unloaded behind us, so I entertained myself for a while watching this operation. You do not often get a front row seat for this as it is normally hidden away from the public,
The Container Ship Show
and although everyone would not find it interesting, I loved watching the containers being sorted, moved and loaded. One end of the ship was being unloaded by the ship’s cranes and these containers were being stacked for delivery on the island, while the other end of the ship was being loaded with the large pier crane. It was amazing how these containers going in every direction ended up going to the correct destination.

I then discovered that four of these containers were parked under our balcony being unloaded and restocking the ship. In many ports, tractor-trailer trucks bring supplies, but obviously here, these containers arrived on ships previously and were waiting for us. Two were refrigerated units containing frozen food and two were
Bring the Beer
regular containers with other items.

It was interesting to watch this process. Workers inside the regular containers were using hand carts to move items moved to the door where fork-lifts transferred everything into the ship’s hold. I noticed a number of managers of departments down there making sure that their needed supplies were being handled correctly. I saw the Cellar Master who is responsible for all the beer, wine and spirits inspecting his incoming cases of bottles, and insisting they were handled correctly.

Loading the Ship
Opposite these regular containers things were not going as smoothly. The fork-lifts had to actually drive right into the container to get these larger pallets of goods. Because of the rain, things were slippery, and the small ramp used to allow access to the container was proving too much for the hard rubber tires on the machinery. They were spinning and slipping and unable to get into the container. When they could not solve this problem they decided to try pulling the pallets out so they could pick them up without actually going inside. Unfortunately this did not work as the pallets twisted and jammed instead of sliding out. Finally they figured out that if they drove one fork-lift up until it started spinning, they could push it the rest of the way with the other fork-lift. Not the most efficient process, but it worked. A lot of waiting and maneuvering, but everything got unloaded and put on the ship. 

Good to know that the beer coolers and wine cellars are once again fully stocked.

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