Who is?

Hi. I am a shipping company director, transport academic, author, family man and all round nice guy. I have worked as shipbroker, shipowner, freight trader and bulk charterer, in senior positions, with some of the largest and most disrespected (joke) companies in the world. Ask my advice on all things shipping and you will receive my blunt and always honest answer. Hang around to learn more about chartering and ship broker salaries, chartering and ship broker jobs, chartering and shipbroker recruitment agencies, cheap freight, maritime education, chartering and ship broker qualifications, become a ship broker, tips on how to be a successful bulk shipping executive, philosophy, Zen and the art of shipbroking, and much more. Yours The Virtual Shipbroker (recently proclaimed the guru of shipbroking) Copyright © 2020 by Virtualshipbroker Contact virtualshipbroker@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Awful Websites

Ive gotta say that gee there are some awful shipping websites out there.

The biggest problem seems to be the plethora of ship trading websites. Ive talked about them before. They are the ones that ask you to fill in cargo and ship postions and offer you access to 15,000 companies.

Here is what they do. Most of them have no idea about shipping. They merely set up a website, design a basic interface, import a directory of shipping company names and then illicit people to give up important marketing information. They offer the dream that in return you may have found the shiptrading eldorado and riches will be yours. The reality is that after one or two visits, you realise it is a scam and never return.

But that doesnt matter because the website owner has signed up google advertising to his/her site and will make USD 1.00 per day in advertising clicks from google. They may also onsell your company details to others willing to pay for the information.

There are now about 30 such portals out there - and probably 28 too many. Someone will get it right one day...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Incase you're wondering who is reading

Nice to see this blog and the books getting some wider recognition from the shipbroking establishement. Over the last few weeks had 2 ceo's/owners of shipbrokerages buy 'Inside Shipbroking'. Also had the head of a large European shipbrokers association and a leading charterer take the plunge.

Hope you enjoyed the books and kudos for taking the time out to see what your constituants are reading.

Yours VS

Monday, October 19, 2009

Outside the box

The worlds largest iron ore Company Vale of Brazil has an international trainee program. Although not specific to shipping Vale is one of the largest charterers of ships in the world.


Challenges facing shipbrokers over the next 12 months

A reader of the blog sent me a question that was part of a trainee application process.

'The global financial markets have changed quite significantly. What are the challenges that shipbroking companies will face over the next twelve months?

Being the guru of shipbroking - how would you answer?

Here is my answer


Hello Anon

Because you called me 'the guru' of shipbroking I will be gracious enough to give you an answer.

I first have to say that 'dont you love these questions - not!' Most likely dreamed up by a HR department that needs to justify its existense and hiring process..

Why we expect / suspect that a 21 year old can see past the pub, their lobido and their next paycheck is anyones guess. Having said that we should try and answer the question with as much aplomb as possible..

Any campny, not just shipping companies, would need to consider the following things during a financial crisis
1) Decrease debt
2) Decrease costs (hring juniors is a good way of doing this, also no biz class travel, long lunches etc)
3) Maintain current client base (its harder to find new clients than to keep good ones)
4) Offer new services (finance is the latest hot thing)
5) Keeping successful shipbrokers happy in non financial ways. (training courses, friday pizza, beer etc)
6) Keeping up morale as revenues decrease - anyone for Tony Robbins?
7) Providing ongoing training and leadership - Yes i said training and leadership!
8) A big one is the fact that shibrokers earn their revenue in USD. And the USD has taken a huge hit against most currencies. So Shipbrokers need to manage this risk.
9) Greater access to China, India and part of South America
10)Market their products in a more effective manner.

It is written..(not very well)

(BTW I would not write all those down - pick your top five and the ones that are least likely to offend!)

Thanks for the great question



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Green Shipping - Good Initiative

Greening up Shipping!

I will support any venture that helps us shipping people 'collectively' feel better about what we do for a living! A good vibe breeds action and the more action the better.



Shipbroking and Public School Nepotism (uk)?

I thought I would bump a reply i have made in a thread in answer to a question by a reader asking in essense if Shipbroking was a closed shop open only to rich kids from British Public schools.

A common and reasonable question.

Here is my Answer


Thank you for the post - and good question.

Here is an open secret. Shipbroking, stockbroking and realestate have since time immemorial been bastions for academically underachieving, gregarious lads from public schools!Also you will note that any profession with average salaries obove USD 85k will have as the majority of its protagonists people from the middle upper classes.

BUT - the good news is this. There are many ways to skin a cat and this was one of the major motivating factors behind the blog and writing 'Inside Shipbroking'. The reason was to dispell some myths, blow open some locked doors and make people realise that as an employment market 'shipping' is a very open propostion.

Also note - that times are changing. 20 years ago the old school tie was hugely important - less so now.

The other thing you need to remember, which I have pointed out in my books, is that you need to play to your stregnths and have a strategy that matches. So if you are from the wrong side of town, smoke illegal cigs and have a tattoo that says 'PAIN' written across your knuckles, then trying to get an internship with a rugby watching/golf club wielding London based Shipbroker may not work (but it might).

May I humbly suggest you check out 'Inside shipbroking' for further clarification..

Thanks again for a good question


Friday, October 9, 2009

APS vs DOP - How it ties into a voyage calc!

Following on from the previous posts explanation you will note that I have stated that APS and DOP are time charter concepts. Now your reasonable question to VS is 'How then does this effect a voyage calculation and hence a voyage contract?".

You will note that in the voyage calculation example on my voyage calc blog that an essential part of the formula to find out the 'break even voyage freight rate' is to know the time charter in price. So this is where it fits in. The delivery also effect the number of total days in the voyage and also the speed and consuption of the ships basis sailing fully laden or in ballast..

Sound confusing? Once you start doing regular voyage calculations it will make sense - and quickly too.

In the voyage calculation pack I will give examples that look at different delivery scenarios and how they effect the bottom line..

Still a few weeks away...but worth the wait.


APS vs DOP - Voyage Calculation essential concept

This post is to explain a little more about some of the essential concepts involved in 'voyage estimating'.

This one is a doozy....and has confused many a trainee and experienced shipping person over the years. Shipowners understand the concept by in my experience brokers have a rudementary idea, and charterers even less of an idea (especially voyage charterers)

APS vs DOP ship delivery.

Definitions first

APS = Arrival pilot station (at new port)
DOP = delivery dropping outward pilot station (at last port of discharge from previous voyage)

Second important point: These are time charter terms not voyage charter terms.

So when negotiating a time charter the two parties will need to agree at a delivery point for the ship. At first glance this may sound like a no brainer. The delivery should be at the first load port I hear you say.....but wait just one moment. Like a taxi cab most ships need to travel empty to the next load port....so the question is 'who pays for the empty ballast leg to the load port?'

Common sense may suggest that the shipowner should pay but the reality in most situations is that it is the charterer who usually foots this bill. Having said that the 'delivery point' of a vessel in any time charter negotiation is a MAJOR point of discussion and choice can come down to the prevailing market conditions at that particular time.

All charterers try and get APS delivery because that means they only start paying hire at the load port (ie arrival pilot station). All shipowners try and get dop delivery (dropping outward pilot station at last port of discharge - previous voyage) because it means the charterer pays from the moment the ship leaves the last discharging port of the previous contract.

You can see by this example why it is important for charterers to source ships as close as possible to their own loading port.......

The problem here is that most loading areas are not by defintion discharging areas. 99 percent of time charter contracts involve an empty ballast leg before the vessel picks up the next cargo...

There is so much more that can be written on this subject and I will add a few things as we go along. Any questions just drop me a line....

Or take a look at my one of a kind tutorial 

Voyage Estimation Tutorial

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back on deck

Hi All

Im back on deck.

The priority at the moment is to pull together the VS voyage extimator pack.

As we speak I have a 20 man crew of midget himalayan hiking computer nerds working 24/7 on some simple VS voyage estimating software. The software is basically the non spreadsheet equivalent of the voyage calculator that I have been using successfully for the past 12 years. No bells and whistles - just the basics to help any user run an effective voyage calculation with minimal fuss (and cost compred to what is on the market).

Think of my software are the base model of any swanky car. No heated seats, no gps, no mini bar etc - but a nice reliable engine, 4 good tires, and the ability to get you to your destination safely and accurately!

BTW - thanks to those of you who have sent me private emails over the last week or so. I have tried where possible to reply where I can.

Anyway back to my real job for a few days...