Friday, 2 December 2011

Voyage across the Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on earth accounting for 40-44% of the world's  waters which can be classified as lakes. To cross from Turkmenistan it is necessary to get a passenger place on a cargo ship. There was the usual incomprehensible queueing system involving lists of names. But it wasn't busy so we didn't have any problems getting a place. The half a dozen or so passengers boarded the ship as the crew supervised the rail cargo being loaded via tracks on the gangway into the hold. We sailed out of Turkmenbashi on a sea as still as a mill pond and the rest of the overnight journey was just as smooth, which was fortunate given the modus operandi the crew had chosen for our voyage. Luckily we didn't discover this until we docked in Baku, Azerbaijan. If we had before going to bed we would probably have found it difficult to sleep that night.

As we slid out of the harbour, past the docks, dusty town and desert, we were shown to our cabin. The cabin cost an extra $10 on top of the $90 we had paid each for the ticket and it was exceptionally dilapidated. The holes in the wall had long ago stopped being patched up and the en suite bathroom was not anywhere near functioning. A draw in the cupboards was labelled 'life jackets'. Investigating this we found it to be empty. Taking a walk on deck the life boats didn't seem any more serviceable than our bathroom. Despite all of this I didn't have a bad nights sleep.

In the morning we packed up the bags and took a walk on deck to watch our docking in Azerbaijan. Walking to the rear of the ship we noticed that the hold doors were open. It appeared that we had sailed with the doors open throughout the night because the crew hadn't quite managed to fit one of the containers into the hold, instead it hang over the end of the boat, preventing the doors from being shut.

Bye Bye Turkmenistan

Last views of Central Asia

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