In The Coast’s very first harbour report—Feb. 6, 2023—I made an offhand joke about the high seas drama involved in two container ships with the same itineraries scheduled to arrive in Halifax at the same time. It had all the makings of a good race—which is to say, it was the kind of scenario to which Uncut Gems’ Howard Ratner would’ve said, “let’s fucking bet on this.” And then it happened again. A month later, The Coast’s highly official, not-at-all-made-up “Trans-Atlantic Throwdown” was born when two ro-ro/vehicle carriers were due to arrive on the same day from Southampton, UK. (“We’re going to need to make a championship belt, aren’t we,” I wrote.) But since then, any container ship derbies have been few and far between. Until now.
Folks, we have ourselves another race: This Saturday, Feb. 3, two giant ships are barrelling in on Halifax Harbour from the distant shores of Antwerp, Belgium. And they’re both expected within 45 minutes of each other. (The intrigue!) In lane one, we have the vanity-license-plate-turned-oil-tanker, Navig8 Constellation. And in lane two, the 294-metre-long NYK Demeter container ship. Buckle up.
The odds favour the Constellation: It’s expected to reach Halifax around 4:15am, while the Demeter is due around 5am. But anything can happen on the open ocean. Could we see a down-to-the-wire finish? And what would the betting line be on a Demeter come-from-behind victory? (These are the things you think about when there’s three feet of snow outside your window.)
Give me Demeter for the win. I love an underdog story.
Completely-serious business out of the way, here’s a look at what else is coming in and out of Halifax Harbour this week:
Monday, January 29
American author Josh Koenig has spent hours—many of them—reflecting on the English language and its shortcomings. A Minnesotan who grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, he noticed how his native tongue often lacked the words for complex emotions—ones that ran deeper than “happy” or “sad,” “angry” or “afraid.” So, in the absence of those words, Koenig made up his own. His Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows became a New York Times bestseller, giving life to words like “Rückkehrunruhe” (“the feeling of returning from an immersive trip only to notice it rapidly fading from your awareness”) and “watashiato” (“curiosity about the impact you’ve had on the lives of the people you know, wondering which of your harmless actions of long-forgotten words might have altered the plot of their stories in ways you’ll never get to see”).
One of Koenig’s best-known creations, though, is the word “sonder.” Its definition is a long one (and reads like Murakami fiction), but it sticks with you:
“The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”
The Sonderborg container ship and its crew—along with their varied lives, ambitions and worries—arrived in Halifax just after 6:30am on Monday. (And what a snowy welcome they had.) The ship left for Palm Beach, Florida late Tuesday morning.
Tuesday, January 30
The Algoma Integrity came in early Tuesday morning. The 197-metre-long self-discharging bulk carrier wrapped a four-day voyage from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and is docked at the Gold Bond Canada Wharf in Wright’s Cove. It leaves late Tuesday night for Baltimore.
The Oceanex Sanderling ro-ro/cargo carrier arrived at the Fairview Cove Terminal around 7:45am. As always, it’s inbound from St. John’s, NL, and returning there on Saturday.
The early bird isn’t so early on Tuesday. The ONE Wren container ship is due to arrive at Halifax’s South End Container Terminal around 6:30pm—the second-last scheduled arrival of the day. It’s inbound from New York City and will depart Wednesday for Jebel Ali, UAE.
Finally, the Atlantic Sail container ship ends an eight-day Atlantic crossing from Liverpool, UK. It’s slated to berth at the Fairview Cove Terminal.
Wednesday, January 31
You know the final scene in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where Will is left standing alone in an empty room? That’s kind of the feeling on Wednesday, when just one of the four ships initially slated for arrival—the Algoscotia oil tanker—comes into port. (The Atlantic Sail came early, and both the Contship Leo and Delphinus C container ships are now due later this week.)
The Algoscotia arrives from Corner Brook, NL, and will dock at the Imperial Oil Terminal in Dartmouth. It leaves Thursday evening for Sydney.
Thursday, February 1
If you’ve spent any time in Washington State—or have any passing familiarity with the region—odds are you’ve seen Mount Rainier. It’s hard to miss: Snow-capped and 14,000 feet tall, the volcano perches above Seattle’s skyline like a cloud descended to Earth. The Lushootseed people have different names for it, from xʷaq̓ʷ (“sky wiper,” “one who touches the sky”) to təqʷubəʔ (“snow-covered mountain,” “mother of waters”). If you’ve seen Rainier, you’ll know why.
Over time, the Lushootseed’s latter name for Rainier became anglicized as Tacoma—which leads us to today’s first ship arrival: The CSL Tacoma bulk carrier. It’s a long way from Washington, but the ship is due to arrive around 1am from Savannah, Georgia.
The aforementioned Contship Leo is the harbour’s second scheduled arrival on Thursday. The 148-metre-long container ship is due at the Fairview Cove Terminal around 7am. The ship is inbound from New York City, and leaves late Thursday night for Kingson, Jamaica. Sounds nice.
The Vivienne Sheri D container ship comes into the South End Container Terminal from Portland, Maine. It’s expected around 8:15am and leaves early Friday morning for Argentia, NL.
Last, but not least, the Nolhan Ava ro-ro/cargo carrier is due back in Halifax from St. Pierre and Miquelon. It’s set to berth at the Fairview Cove Terminal.
Friday, February 2
Unlike its tardy sibling, the ONE Wren, the ONE Swan container ship is, indeed, the early bird on Friday. It arrives at the South End Container Terminal around 5:30am. The ship left Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Jan. 1, and—like other container ships coming from South Asia—opted to bypass the war-affected Gulf of Aden in favour of sailing around the southern tip of Africa. After Halifax, it will depart Saturday morning for New York.
Also arriving at the crack of dawn is the ZIM Virginia container ship, which comes into the Fairview Cove Terminal from Valencia, Spain, around 5:30am. Like the ONE Swan, it leaves Halifax for New York—albeit late Friday afternoon, instead of Saturday.
Elsewhere in the harbour, the MSC Alyssa and Delphinus C container ships are both scheduled to arrive Friday morning. The former comes in from Montreal and will carry onward to Sines, Portugal, while the latter arrives from Saint John, NB, and will later depart for Southampton, UK.
Saturday, February 3
The aforementioned Navig8 Constellation arrives Saturday. The Yellowtail Marine SA-owned oil tanker leaves Halifax for Houston, Texas, on Monday, Feb. 5.
The Siem Cicero car carrier is expected in Halifax after a 13-day voyage from Germany. It left Emden on Jan. 21.
Finally, both the NYK Demeter and Gotland container ships are expected in Halifax Harbour. The former is on its way from Antwerp, hot on the Navig8 Constellation’s trail, while the latter left Moa, Cuba, on Jan. 28.
Sunday, February 4
One of the last ship arrivals of the week is also the biggest: The 366-metre-long CMA CGM Laperouse is expected at the South End Container Terminal around 8am. The container ship has a summer deadweight of 165,422 tonnes, and enough room for 13,344 20-foot steel containers—which immediately ranks among the largest ships to visit Halifax, at any time. (The CMA CGM Marco Polo still puts it to shame: At 396 metres long, it has room for more than 16,000 20-foot containers.)
The Laperouse arrives from Tanger Med, Morocco, and will eventually depart Halifax for New York.
Finally, the Asian Captain car carrier arrives at Halifax’s Richmond Terminals around 3pm. The ship left Southampton, UK, on Jan. 28.