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Those who served on the vessel when she made her first voyage as a floating bookfair staffed by volunteers have gathered around the first official gift presented to the ship: a brass bell.
On 19 February 2009, almost five years after the purchase of the car ferry, the renovation work carried out in several European shipyards was completed. MV Logos Hope received her Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (PSSC) and undertook an icy crossing from Køge, Denmark to Gothenburg, Sweden.
“It was so cold that the water was frozen – we had had to have an ice-breaking tug boat ahead of us,” remembers Carlos Montañez (Colombia), who was the journalist on board. “I think something made the power shut off and the engines stopped as we were praying together as a group. We freaked out and prayed harder!” he laughs.
On arrival in Gothenburg, Logos Hope’s bookfair was open to the public for three days as a test launch. It was enough time to make an impression on the city. One of the ship's divisional directors, Randy Grebe (USA), takes up the story:
“On the day we were departing, an older man walked through the snow our volunteers were playing in – many of them came from countries where they’d never seen snow. So this man made his way past a giant snowman in the dockyard and up the gangway. He presented us with a box containing an ornamental bell, engraved with the emblem of his charity, Helping Hands. It was the first official gift Logos Hope received and the benefactor said it was with joy and pride that he gave it, in memory of our very first port of call.”
The Gothenburg bell was mounted in Logos Hope’s dining room, where it is rung daily to call the community’s attention to announcements, to ask silence for prayer before meals, and to signal that second helpings are available. It's still in action, nine years on.
And nine years on, several of the original crewmembers find themselves back on Logos Hope. In the early days, Randy Grebe and his wife Kim designed the new Visitor Experience Deck; the space seven million people have passed through since then. The captain on that first voyage, Dirk Colenbrander (Netherlands), returns regularly to provide relief cover and oversee training. After leading the communications team on board, Jon Crowe (USA) oversees the organisation's communications and marketing, based from the US office. Second Mate Endre Bjorå (Norway) was a deckhand in 2009. He’s spent almost five years on the vessel in total; citing the excellent training it offers young people as a reason to return. Meanwhile, Ruben Muñoz (Mexico) has had three stints on board, after becoming hooked on the floating bookfair as a boy.
One of the loudest voices cheering Logos Hope into Cartagena for her current port call was that of Marta Ardila (Colombia). Marta had already served three commitments on sister ship, Logos II, when she was asked to make arrangements for the new vessel’s visit to London in 2009. After months of advance preparation, she remembers the relief on learning that Logos Hope was finally certified to carry passengers and embark on her scheduled programme.
“We were all jumping when we heard the news that the ship could make her first voyage to Gothenburg!” recalls Marta. She was jumping again, as, after offering local assistance to Logos Hope’s current volunteers lining up port visits in Colombia, she had the joy of welcoming the vessel – along with several of her old friends – to her city.
“Sometimes you feel like you never left,” says the woman who grew up in a naval family and was always fascinated by the maritime world. “When I saw the ship, I started crying that she is finally here. I couldn’t believe I was seeing people I never imagined would be in my home town, and I’m so happy to see the response of people in Cartagena to all this vessel stands for.”
Published: Friday, 16 February 2018
Credit: Julie Knox