Exceptional Shipping Artist (http://goo.gl/urh2DI)

The first time I saw the paintings of Nico Peeters on the Internet I assumed they were photographs, and it took a few minutes to absorb the fact they are paintings. He accepts corporate commission, and there is more information and his biography on his web page.
The Waker in the Dry Dock

Sponors Needed


This Sunday new Infospectrum analyst Angela Velasco will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of the fantastic charity, Seafarers UK who provide support for mariners and retired mariners who are in need of support, whether at sea or at home. Here is the link if you would like to donate. http://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Velasco1



Marshall Islands Hits 100m grt and I Win a Prize

Marshall Islands hits 100m GRT and I Win a Prize!

In an innovation I whole-heartedly endorse the recent Marine Money Ship Finance forum in London closed with a conference after party. The party was sponsored by the Marshall Islands Maritime and Corporate registry, which with the registration of the STI Duchessa and the STI Opera, passed the 100m gross tonnes (grt) mark. For those of you who don`t know, the Marshall Islands registry has been administered by International Registries, Inc (IRI) since 1990, when it held around 300 ships of around 10m grt. Therefore, IRI and its team (Bill Gallagher, Tony Guida, Clay Maitland, Anthony Julian to name a few) have done a splendid job to grow the register.

IRI brought along its team for the party, which included a Beetles tribute band and a DJ, and there was dancing until the early hours of the morning. Even better, I won the business card drop prize of a replica of a native Marshall Islands navigation tool, which now sits on the wall of the London Infospectrum boardroom.

Sailors’ Society Wine Tasting Event at ING Bank, London.

Last Thursday ING Bank very kindly hosted a wine tasting on behalf of the Sailors’ Society. Founded in 1818, the Sailors’ Society is a not-for-profit Christian charity that provides relief and benefits in many ports around the world. Jan Webber, Director of Fundraising at the Sailors’ Society gave an example of two corresponding chaplains enabling an injured Ukrainian seaman to Skype his family back home from his hospital bed in Brazil. The Sailors’ Society is also currently recruiting teams to take part in the Three Peaks Challenge (email holly.evans@sailors-society.org for details).

Stephen Fewster, the Global Head of Transportation Finance at ING was the host, and ING also provided the wine-expert and the butler service. First, we were greeted by Holly and Sophie from the Sailors Society and shown some of the wines from the cellar. The ING cellar is essentially that of Barings Bank, which ING bought for £1.00 and assumed all the debt brought about by Nick Leeson’s gambles on the forex market in 1995. Barings was the oldest private bank in the City, and was famous for its fine dining. Indeed, according to the butler, that was the basis of the bank. Clients were treated to wines that the bank had laid down years before, which were almost unobtainable anywhere else. We were shown some of the rare wines from the cellar, including a Margaux that would cost £15,000 in a restaurant. On the display table were several six-bottle cases of Petrus, which currently average around £1,000 per bottle at auction. According to the head butler, upon hearing of the bank’s collapse the chairman telephoned him with the instruction; “lock up the wine cellar and take the keys home with you. Guard them with your life”.

The wine tasting was of six different wines, three whites followed by three reds. The wine expert explained how the bulk of the information on French wine bottles labels can be misleading or just unnecessary. While it is interesting to know the “terrior” and on which bank of a particular river the grapes were grown, the most useful thing to know is who made the wine. This is a brilliant piece of advice – next time you drink a bottle of wine you really like – just remember name the wine-maker.

To the wines. Below is the list of wines we tried and the names of the wine-makers.


Rully La Chatalienne, Olivier Laflaive 2011 (£11.95 a bottle)

Pouilly Fume, Eric Louis 2011 (£13.99 a bottle)

Chassagne – Montracher, Les Chenevottes, Marc Morey 2007 (£35.00 a bottle)


Château Cadet, Cotes de Castillon, Louis Mitjavile 2008 (no longer available – if you see a bottle, buy it immediately)

Bourgogne Cyrot – Buthiau, Pinot-Noir, 2010 (£12.95)

Château Cissac, Haut-Medoc, Vialard 2009 (£9.58)

We were told to write down our opinions and then the wine-expert told us which ones were the more expensive. On the whites, I was the only one who preferred the Olivier Laflaive, even those this was the cheapest.

On the reds I was more in line with popular opinion. The Louis Mitjavile was the most favoured among the 40 or so people present. It had a longer finish than the other reds. It was also quite high in alcohol content. Although the wine-expert gave an opinion on prices, I have looked up the current prices on the internet. All the above prices are per bottle if you bough a case ex-VAT from Corney & Barrow wine merchants. I looked on several websites, and the 2008 vintage of Louis Mitjavile seems to have sold out, so if you see a bottle buy it immediately.

As well as hosting the event, I hear that ING donated £4,000 to the Sailors’ Society. So let’s raise a glass to ING.


Brilliant Waste of Time

Have you discovered the PlanetInAction online Google Earth ship simulator yet?

It’s a brilliant way to waste away an hour or two. First go to the review  for an explanation of how the controls. From there you can follow the link to the game itself. You have a choice of ships, from a bunker lighter to the impressive Queen Mary 2. The simulation opens in Rotterdam, not far from the offices of DVB, and because it is based on Google Earth, can be reset anywhere. I just spent a nervous 20 minutes threading a closed river barge through the Pool of London, just avoiding HMS Belfast and finally berthing on the quay outside the Clarksons office.

PlanetInAction have produced the ship simulator as a showcase for their talents, and are looking for investors to develop it further. Contact details are on the website. I have to go now. I am about to moor the Queen Mary 2 outside the Spinnaker office at Leigh-on-Sea!

Wärtsilä Oil and Gas Calendar

Wärtsilä calendar of oil and gas exploration, drilling, and technology events for the next twelve months.

The shipping calendar is generating a lot of interest, and I am following it up with one for the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry is a much bigger industry than shipping, and there are far more conferences and events. While the shipping conference calendar is unique (I haven’t come across another on the Internet), there are some oil & gas-related conference calendars. I have used the US Society of Petroleum Engineers calendar and the Oil & Gas Journal listings as the main source of listings for collating my oil & gas calendar, plus the usual suspects like Informa and so on. Of course, if you are a conference organisor and I haven’t included your event, please send me a comment with the website location. I would also like to thank the nice people at Wärtsilä for sponsoring the oil & gas calendar.

 Best Golf Course at an Oil & Gas Conference?

As you might expect there are a lot of oil conferences in Houston, the Middle East and Brazil, but I wanted to share with you the annual conference for the American Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE). This takes place in Coeur d’Alene, which I assumed was in France. In fact, Coeur d’Alene is in Idaho, USA. Coeur d’Alene is a purpose built resort, with the hotel being a modernist interpretation of a German Rhine Schloss. As well as the conference, there is a champagne cruise on the lake and a golf tournament. It is the golf course that caught my eye. The par three 14th green floats in the lake. In fact, the floating green is computer controlled and changes position everyday. The Coeur d’Alene has been voted America’s Most Beautiful Golf Course and if the American Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers need a speaker on the shipping at Coeur d’Alene, I’m your man (and I don’t even play golf)!

The Schmidt Act.

Here’s a mischievous thought for a Friday. Imagine what it would be like if the EU had a Jones Act – the Schmidt Act.

This thought was prompted by a posting on the gCaptain blog, which reprints a recent article on Reuters about the US Jones Act. For those who don’t know, the 1920 Jones Act (US Merchant Marine Act of 1920) was designed to ensure there would be enough American-controlled ships in times of war. The ships must be at least 75% American in content, crewing and ownership. To support the fleet, all trade between US ports, including Porto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska, must be carried on ships conforming to the Jones Act. Essentially one of the biggest trading countries in the world enforces cabotage.

Imagine if a similar sized group of consumers, such as the EU had introduced the same restrictions, including that all shipments between one EU port and another EU port had to be carried on EU-built, crewed and owned ships. The biggest beneficiary would probably have been the container industry. Once the big ships arrive at the main hub ports from the Far East, all the ongoing EU internal feeder traffic would have to be on EU ships. It would be like the inland waterway model had been extended up to 3500-TEU or more. I think German shipyards would have been the main beneficiaries, and maybe the Lindo shipyard in Denmark would still be open. There is also a lot of oil and gas moved internally within the EU. A steady stream of gas carriers, crude oil and product tankers would have kept the shipyards of Spain, Portugal and Italy busy. Its nice to think there would be a thriving merchant marine across the whole of Europe.

This is clearly what the writers of the Jones Act had in mind for the US, but the Jones Act has many critics inside the US, who say it increases the cost of carriage and the Act does not do what it was set out to do – create a secure supply of merchant shipping in times of need. It also has its defenders, who cite job and wealth creation. Most agree the Jones Act is not working as its original writers intended. But then who is to say the Schmidt Act would have been any different.

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