Crew finds city 'peaceful' goes shopping

OLYMPIA – When the Global Wisdom arrived at the Port of Olympia last week to load logs for Japan, the ship’s arrival transformed the port’s marine terminal into a center of activity.

It was a busy time for the ship’s crew and for others who work closely with them, as well.

This was the Global Wisdom’s first visit to the port, but it was the third visit for Captain Reyco Juarez, he said.

Juarez, 50, originally from a city near Manila in the Philippines, has worked in international shipping since 1981 and became a captain three years ago. Juarez and his Filipino crew of 22 spent about a week in Olympia, including the long Fourth of July weekend. During their stay, popular destinations for the crew included Westfield Capital mall, Wal-Mart and the Intercity Transit center downtown, where some sailors could pick up a wireless Internet signal on their laptop computers.

It also was a time for the ship to stock up on provisions, said Kelly Atkinson of Lacey, a senior vessel manager who looks after the needs of the crew and ship during their stay in port. Juarez said $6,000 to $7,000 was spent on food for a ship that could spend 45 to 50 days at sea, including time spent at ports.

That’s enough food to serve three meals a day, he said. A typical meal on board the ship is rice, served with meat or fish, soup and fruit for dessert.

Juarez, who speaks English, Tagalog and a little Japanese, works nine months of the year, he said.

Although the ship stocks up on food, it does not refuel in Olympia because it can get a better price on fuel in Asia, Juarez said. The Global Wisdom requires 1,200 metric tons of fuel oil and 100 tons of diesel oil, he said.

It takes less than 20 days to travel to Japan, and while at sea, crew members put in a total of eight hours a day — a four-hour shift during the day and four hours at night, Juarez said.

When crew members are not working, they like to lift weights in a makeshift exercise room, play basketball when they are in port or strap on boxing gloves and hit the punching bag, Chief Mate Stephen Ruiz said.

Video recordings of the May boxing match between Philippine national Manny Pacquiao and Britain’s Ricky Hatton, a match won in the second round by boxing champion Pacquiao, are in demand among the Filipino crewmen. Ruiz called Pacquiao a “living hero” in the Philippines. Faith-based organizations such as the Tacoma Seafarer’s Center also deliver recordings of Filipino TV shows, Atkinson said.

Ruiz, who has worked in the shipping business for 10 years and wants one day to become a captain, said he and the crew spent time in Olympia buying clothes and electronic goods. He found the city to be hospitable and friendly.

“It’s a good city and a peaceful one,” he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403