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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sneak Peek

Check out the VS Voyage Estimator Blog for a 'sneak peek' of the software.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festive season to you all!

To the buyers of the books, the followers, the students, the posters, the consultees......thanks to you all for a wild ride in 2009.

Wishing you all a happy festive season (and christmas for those of you who are christians).

In the shipping world Christmas is a time when business almost comes to a halt. The same goes for Chinese new year celebrations which are also not too far away.

So those of you luck enough to have a break - recharge those batteries, spend time with family and friends and take time out to remember that there is more to life than Shipping...........

For those of you who will work through the break - your time will come. On the occassions I have found myself working over this break - I have welcomed the relative peace and quiet so its not all that bad.


One for the road - crank the volume up to 11!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The price of a ship to hire?

We have had many discussions regarding how, in bulk shipping, do shipowners calculate the price of their ships at any given moment. How is it that one day a ship is woreth this much to hire and the next day the rate is different? How is it that two seamingly similar vessels are rating the same cargo / business at very different rates?

This answer is long and varied and my voyage estimation pack will answer this question and more in great detail.

But alas I have a short answer! And this is the truth.....so take note any unsuspecting charterer or mining company..


Say it loud - bulk shipping is a commodity business (the commodity being FREIGHT) not a cost business.......

This also explains why shipbrokers and freight traders get paid the same if not more than commodity traders and brokers. Many people think that organising shipping is the menial job of a lowly paid shipping clerk.

When people realise that millions are being made and lost and that bulk freight is highly negotiable, tradeable commodity - then we get closer to the truth.

Keep rocking

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another legal question

A shipowner fixes a piece of voyage business with a named ship - MV Blindhope
(as opposed to fixing the cargo basis a TBN - without having yet decided on which ship will be used).

The new voyage business laycan is 3 weeks away and MV Blindhope is finishing the last voyage before proceeding with full despatch to the load port for the NEW business in question.

Scenario - whilst discharging the cargo in the previous voyage something bad happens. Another ship collides with the MV Blindhope. The result being that the MV Blindhope is no longer able to present itself for the NEW business for which she has been fixed...

Question - Does the shipowner need to provide 'another ship' for the NEW business?

(The laycan is 3 weeks away and there are plenty of ships in the area than can be chartered to fill this cargo obligation...)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update on the VS Voyage Estimation Pack

Hi all

As discussed previously getting this pack together has proved a little more chellenging (and costly - ha) then i had envisaged......BUT we are almost there......

The basic voyage estimation software has been tested and after a few gliches looks ready to go. All that is left is for me (VS) to 'write up' the accompanying educational booklet. This book will containing step by step examples of many of the most important voyage / trade routes. It will also explain in depth how a shipowner, charterer, freight trader and shipbroker, can use the 'art' of effective voyage calculation in ones everyday working lives.

I reckon its going to be a fantastic resource for any level and type of bulk shipping executive. It will also be an incredible teaching tool for those interested in freight trading, shipowning, cost effective chartering and power shipbroking!

I have been extremeley busy on a number of fronts and I apologise for the delay in rolling this out. My most recent guess for completion in Mid/end January. (maybe 1 month away)

Thanks again to those of you sending me messages checking on its availability.


Incredible display of fortitude...in the face of a declining BDI.

a shipbroker 24 hours after learning of the BDI's rapid recent decline. Giddy Up!

At Virtual Shipbroker we dont condone this type of behaviour. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Late for laycan? Charterers happy - why?

In response to the previous thread find my answer below

Hi guys

Good answers everyone.

Unfortunatley the shipowners cannot walk away if they are missing cancelling. Only the charterers can. So 99 percent of the time the owners "dont want to be late". They lose all power.

Plus if the market does rise - why would the charterer not accept the ship a little late? 99 percent of the time they will.

In the above situation the charterers could be happy for a number of reasons...

1. The market has dropped. But alas - this is not enough. For this to be good for the charterers we need the market to drop but we also need another ship! On many occassions when a ship does miss cnacelling - there are no alternative ships due to the prompt nature of the situation.

2. Maybe the charterer has had trouble accumulating cargo at the loadport. There may also be congestion at the loadport...for all these reasons it is advantageous for the charterer is the ship runs late. They will still accept the ship but they will limit possible demurrage claims due to making the ship wait before loading.

Hope this makes sense. Any questions just shoot (from the hip)!

Thanks to all for the contributions.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another interactive chartering question!

A laycan is the window of time, allocated by the charterer to the shipowner, for the arrival of a ship.

So if an agreed laycan is 01-10 December then the ship must arrive within these dates in order to avoid a possible penalty.
Consider this:

The ship in question is missing the cancelling date and looks like arriving on the 11th of December. But far from being mad the charterer is very happy...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why do many shipowners selectively circulate open positions? Answer...

I have bumper the answer from the previous post so that everyone can read.


Nice feedback everyone.
Gregocebr, Gary and Varun - all spot on.
The main reason is simple supply and demand.

If a shipowner has 20 ships and 7 of his ships are open over the next month in Singapore / Japan range for example - then he / she would being doing themselves a disservice telling the world that they have 7 ships open around the same time in the same place.

Makes more sense to say you have 2 ships open. That way charterers think there are less ships (supply side economics) to choose from then there actually are. "Shipowners hat" - Less tonnage supply means better bargaining position -means higher price.

(same reason in really low market shipowners layup some vessels. Ie to reduce overall supply in the market and thus keep overall prices high)

And as Gary quite rightly points out - charterers can play the same game. Many charterers have more than one cargo but you would never know. They tell the market there is one cargo, quickly fix one ships and abracadbra 2 days later they take a second ship for what looks like the same requirement. Funny that.

Smart play! If they (charterers) had told the market (shipowners) that there were two open cargo positions that would immediately lessen their bargaining positions because more cargo means more demand(for ships)and thus the propensity for higher freight prices.

That my friends is why brokering is not just about matching open ships to open cargoes.
It is also a huge reason as to why internet trading platforms will only have limited use.

And above all else its a huge reason why shipbrokers need to have close relationships with clients. The best brokers have inside information and protect/circulate that information in ways that lead to more deals now and in the future.

Many thanks for the question and the contributions.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A good question from a reader

Dear VS
Why would shipowners not want to open their fleet details to the market? In high BDI days, would this not be an advantage to them, as now they can have many brokers fighting for the business, and they can have a stronger arm to negotiate and get best deal for themselves.


Good question Zubair

I might leave this one open for any readers to try and answer. Can anyone think of a reason/situation why a shipowner would not want the market to know all his open positions?



Every 6 months I will write a new post apologizing for my poor spelling throughout this blog.

I write and I press without checking.....

To all concerned - I apologize for my spelling.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Win a Car!

Ok - the 30,000th visitor wins a car - Will it be you?

Another Legal Question

Peter asks

"VS a friend of mine returned home in the evening to find his wife in bed with the neighbour. When he files for divorce can she still claim half his assets?"

Great question Peter - unfortunatley, unless the bed in question is a water bed in the shape of the "ss minow" (Gilligans Island) the topic is beyond the scope of this blog.

However...Please send our collective condolensces to your friend during this tough time.