27 November 2019

Strikebound in Helsinki

The Mariella and Gabriella laid up together at Katajanokka on 26.11.2019 due to the strike, with the Lotus (Danish-flagged and therefore outside the strike) bunkering the Gabriella and slightly messing up my envisioned shot.
The Finnish postal services have been on strike for the past two weeks, after the employer decided to unilaterally move a part of the workforce under a different collective agreement, resulting in pay cuts of 30-40%. When the postal services wouldn't budge from their original position, support strikes quickly begun – for reasons that should be obvious, workers across the board were not exactly keen on a precedent being set for such radical pay cuts made purely at the employers' discretion.

The Finnish Seamen's Union (amongst others) joined the strike on Monday, with Finnish-flagged ships laid up after arriving in Finnish ports. For the Helsinki-Stockholm route, this meant that only the Silja Symphony was sailing, with the Mariella laid up on arrival on Monday and the Gabriella and Silja Serenade on Tuesday.

Need a magazine cover?

Finnlines attempted a strikebusting move by moving the Finnstar, which normally sails on the Helsinki-Travemünde route, to the Malmö-Travemünde route (meaning she never arrives at a Finnish port and is therefore not subject to the strike), and moving the Swedish-flagged Europalink to the services from Finland instead. However, the strike was resolved earlier this morning, before the Europalink even reached Finland.

The Lotus leaving – I was so preoccupied with taking photos that I didn't notice she was moving at first! Alas, she reparted just as the light was getting a bit too dark for really good views.

Of course, the Helsinki-Stockholm ships laid up gave nice chances of photographing ships that are normally not seen together in Eteläsatama in Helsinki (similar unusual pairings could also be seen in Vuosaari, Turku, Naantali and Hanko, but I didn't have time to zoom around the country quite so much).

Line-up of the Finnish-flagged Helsinki-Stockholm ships. Unfortunately, I only realised you could take a photo with all three properly visible through the harbour fence when it was a bit too dark for really good photos.
You wait for five months for a blog update and then two come at once? Worry not, I'm sure we'll be back to the one update per month if you're lucky -pace soon. :P

26 November 2019

Where is this blog going?

A perfectly valid question to ask about a blog that hasn't been updated in almost five months. And, frankly, I don't have a proper answer, although the plan is to wake this place up from it's slumber in some manner.

But let's take things from the beginning.

Unlike this blog, the Mariella won't be going anywhere today, as she is strike-bound in Helsinki. This photo shows her departing Helsinki on 2.3.2019.

For the past months, I have been busy polishing the text, images and layout of my next book The North Sea Bridge – Ferry Connections Between Scandinavia and Britain 1820-2014, which went to printers last week and should be with us before Christmas. I will do a proper blog entry on the book once the actual physical copies arrive. The book being completed is relevant for the subject at hand because I discovered that working on the book, plus various other jobs, and being the main parent of a two-year-old left me with little time or energy to post things here.

But, at the same time, after having been an active ship photographer for well over a decade – and a ship photo blogger for nine years – I find myself less interested in it than I once was. This is not to say that I wouldn't be interested in ships, and photographing them, anymore, but I do feel that my development as a ship photographer has reached a plateau, making the process itself less interesting. Simultaneously, I have less time to myself than before (being a parent and all) and less interest in using that time for going out on the kind of long photo sessions that used to be the norm for me. It doesn't help that, ultimately, the ships calling in Helsinki stay pretty much the same year in–year out (even on the cruise ship side) and I have good photos of most of them already. Thus ships for which I feel going out for photos would be warranted are few and far between.

All this is not to say I wouldn't continue ship photography, but it likely will not be frequent enough to keep the once per week schedule I have tried to maintain in the past. Added to all this is the fact that I have been somewhat displeased with the format of this blog for a long time; I remember talking with the editor of CruiseBusiness.com back in 2015 that I would like to move to a format more based on travelogues and experiences, rather than dry reporting of facts.

As said in the beginning, I'm not sure where exactly this blog will be going. It might be that after such a long break I will end up simply not restarting this blog and this will the penultimate entry (I will do the one about the book in any case). What I am currently leaning towards, however, is finally changing this to a blog that is more about travelogues, other shipboard experiences, and more thematic photo sets (rather than ones about an individual ship). I have some ideas on this front that have been thinking of doing for a while, and maybe now is the time to turn them to reality?

Of course, if the latter way is the way that I'll go, that will likely mean the update frequency will continue to be of the sporadic once-a-month kind, as there will be less material actually worth an entry – but on the other hand, the entries should be more detailed.