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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Had to Laugh


Mr. Agent has left a new comment on your post "Strange but True":

Hey VS,

Thanks for your blog - its like crack for me...i can't wait for my daily fix.

I'm a shipping agent on the USWC. Part of my job is providing port costs to our principals. These requests come in waves - One week everyone and their mom will be asking about costs/restrictions for logs ex Kodiak, whereas the next week it will be grain ex Grays Harbour, and then wood chips ex tacoma....etc..etc..etc.

As an agent, communication is the name of the game. If I could get a heads up on what cargoes are hitting the market, it would help me better prep information for our principals. When these cargos become available what venue are they being broadcast/advertised?

Cheers and let me know if you ever find yourself in Seattle.

Mr Agent


Hello Mr Agent - Appreciate the sentiment (I think) although this blog or its author does not condone the use of Ilicit substances for recreational purposes (Unlike the wolf of Wall St lol).

Your question is an excellent one. I have been one of those pesky shipowners pushing you for info.

The answer is not one that will make your life any easier. There is nowhere you get to see these cargoes before they hit the market - if there was then the shipowners and brokers would know about it too. You will always be second unfortunately.

What happens is this - a charterer will come out with a new market cargo - within minutes the shipowners will then be trying to run voyage estimations.  key component of voyage estimation are the port costs (and restrictions if any). So that is why you get email requests at the same time. Each shipowner is trying to beat the other in terms of cost and speed of reply. As a shipowner I always liked being first to offer - usually within a few hours of a cargo hitting the market.

Anyway - sorry couldnt help much and yes if I ever make to Seattle I will look you up. I am a grunge generation (only JUST) dude and always loved the Seattle Sound.

Keep rockin, stay off the crack and keep in touch..

A sober (Beer and Sav Blanc excl)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Strange but True

Reading a biography about Richard Branson last week. Think he is an interesting dude. Bit strange but essentially someone who has made his own way following his own rules.

Incredibly - for a person worth a few billion bucks did you know that Richard Branson did not know (until a few short years ago) the difference between Gross Profit and Net Profit. Think about it....owns 300 companies, worth a few billion, revered for his business acumen and yet didnt understand one of accountings most basic concepts.

Whats the moral here? I dont know exactly but sometimes I think the keys to success have little to do with knowing what everyone else does. Maybe its more about understanding systems. I think the greatest asset that someone like Richard Branson has is his ability to make decisions. That in itself is a great skill. Most of us sit around thinking about how life could be and yet very few of us make proactive decisions to make anything come true. Branson likes a business - he starts it (or buys it these days)

Someone once said that the sum of ones life can be seen by the decisions they make (or the decisions they never make) be that about business, type of job, money, relationships, study or what you do in your spare time.

On another note I should tell you about an interesting encounter I had recently. On holidays with my wife and children I had the distinction of meeting none other than 'The Wolf of Wall st" Mr Jordan Belfort.

I was taking a walk, buying some ice cream for the kids and who should I see walking the other way but the Wolf Himself (and his Blond Partner). Both groups stopped (my troupe and his) to watch some kids busking (they were pretty good). I could not help myself and decided to mosey on over and introduce myself. I had just read his latest "catching the Wolf of Wall St" and was therefore primed for a bit of celeb chit chat.

Nice guy these days - reformed but not so reformed that he doesnt still have a glint in his eye. We chatted for 20 minutes and he even met my wife and my mother - who went into shock when she realised who she was confronted with.

His story in 'wolf of wall st' although extreme is not overly dissimilar to some aspects of shipping culture. I jest not. We had a bit of a chat about this aswell...hehe all good fun...most of the time anyway!

Keep Rock'n

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Letter of Indemnity for non presentation of Bills of Lading

Ok - So the cargo of coal (or any other dry bulk) is on the water (in transit) and it appears the paperwork (original bills of lading) will not arrive to the discharge port in time. A shipowner will not discharge the cargo unless the bills of lading are there. If unavailable the only other way to get the cargo discharged is if charterers agree to sign a Letter of Indemnity.

The shipowners sends the charterer his Letter of Indemnity (LOI) basis his P and I club wording. This is standard but also a painful process. If a full stop or a comma is out of place then it will not be passed. I have spent hours getting this part of the process right because the loi needs to be passed through the chain right back the the head owner of the ship.

Make sure you start working on the LOI as soon as the ship has left its load port. As a broker you should be asking owners for their LOI wording and on receipt you should pass throught to charterers. Charterers, agents and brokers should be keeping an eye on the whereabouts of the original bills and if there is a slight chance they will not arrive in time then the LOI process should then be in full swing.

Again I must re- iterate...getting thr LOI wording correct, the process can take days. So dont be caught out and leave it till the last minute.


Monday, September 20, 2010

VS Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Certificate - New Intake


On its third intake and now ready to go!



Going through the VS Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Certificate not only provided me with hard to find procedural knowledge on the chartering routines but, specially, the mindset --and the jargon and the 'respectful informality' implied by it-- that governs the relationship amongst shipbrokers, shipowners and charterers.

The privilege of being assigned realistic e-mail exercises on a daily basis by an experienced and successful shipbroker rewards the trainee with first-rate feedback and clarifications that span from shipping business theoretical knowledge all the way to the shipbroking community's Zeitgeist and written communications style.

What impressed me the most was VS' unfaltering availability, his openness towards all types of enquiries, his outright frankness and, above all, his genuine concern for the professional development and career progression of his students. I cannot overstate his commitment to the promotion of the shipbroking profession.

Luis AV (Americas)


'The Virtual Shipbroker Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Program was fantastic, I recommend it to anyone - awesome info, fair work load, great teacher and teacher's support along the way, good friends and incredible times. I would like to thank you VS simply for The Mentor Program it-self, it is absolutely worth the time and money.

My personal rating 6 stars of 5! :)'

(Mark B - Europe)

(If you would like to contact these students for verification just drop me a email)


- Suitable for all chartering roles; Shipbroking, cargo chartering, shipowning and freight trading.

- Suitable for those with very limited thru to intermediate experience.

- Next intake scheduled to start 01 October 2010

- Request for enrolment by September 27th.

- Limited spaces. I reserve the right to accept or decline any students as I see fit.

- Roughly a 4 month program - depending on speed of student. We have flexibility.

- Student assigned a daily email task which to be completed within 24 hours

- VS replies with comments and suggestions within 24 hours.

- Time needed = approx 30 minutes per day. If you can't spare the time don't enrol

- Course can be tailored to specific needs.

- All study material available from 'Inside shipbroking', 'shipbroker Fast Track' and the Internet.

- No grades, no tests HOWEVER each task needs to be completed successfully before moving onto the

- First 2 weeks money back guarantee (if you are not happy with the format you can drop out and get your money back)

- Price USD 975.00 per person. This price includes Inside Shipbroking and Shipbroker Fast Track. If you already have these two books the price of the course is USD 925.00 per person

- Open to individuals and campanies alike.

- On completion you recieve a recap of the material taught and a real life certificate to hang on your wall !

- Can be taken on an anonymous basis (apart from yours truely no-one ever need know - privacy guaranteed)

Some comments

The purpose of the Program is to provide students with a “hands on”, interactive education that is unavailable anywhere else. There is no syllabus and the format is very relaxed and informal. I set the student a daily task and it is the job of the student to complete the task and answer the questions.

In general we cover

- Voyage charters
- Time charters
- Different markets (ships and cargoes)
- Negotiation

A key element to the Program is the process of communication. All other courses teach you facts and figures. I teach you fact and figures but I also teach the processes and the language of shipping. For example; How to send and reply to emails in an appropriate manner. Timing, wording and reading between the lines. We use real life examples of using real ships and real cargoes.

Importantly we concentrate on the negotiation process. You will participate in a voyage charter negotiation and a time charter negotiation, with a fellow student (with me playing the part of shipowner and charterer).

The process always starts off with a bang with both student and teacher (me) fully motivated. After 1 month it is my experience that a little bit of fatigue sets in. We struggle for a while and then break on through having a great time in the last month before graduation. It is a learning module after all and there are some dry topics that we must cover.

All up – you can see from the testimonials, students who have completed the course found it to be a very positive and valuable experience.


To make a request to be accepted (and if you have any questions) please send me an email to


Tell me your name and a little bit about your background and why you would like to do the course.
Spots are VERY limited so hurry. I havent yet decided on optimal student numbers so there is some flexibility. As a guide current intake was 6 students.

I reserve the right to decline any application. The course is not suitable for everyone and I will make a judgement call only accepting those I think will benefit the most.

The certificate is not sanctioned by any educational Institution. It is what it is - a professional development course for those with a little/intermediate 'chartering and shipbroking' knowledge, wanting to fast track their progress.

Think of it as having your very own highly experienced (and successful) mentor shooting you interesting questions and setting interesting tasks. I am no full time academic with little real life experience, nor am I an overworked shipping executive poorly inclined to teach you his tricks of the trade.

I look forward to hearing from you


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Someones listening - Self trimming bulk carrier cont...


BIMCO/ASBA issue guidance on "STBC" c/p term

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

BIMCO, working together with ASBA, has developed an interpretation of the term “self trimming” as used, but not defined, in Clause 12(a) of the NORGRAIN ’89 charter party. The term “self trimming bulk carrier” or “STBC” is frequently misused in the dry cargo sector as a general description of a ship’s characteristics, regardless of the type of cargo to be carried.

The Special Circular issued by BIMCO (Special Circular No. 5, September 2010) contains an interpretation of the term “self trimming” found in Clause 12(a) of the NORGRAIN ‘89 charter. The interpretation has been jointly drafted by BIMCO and ASBA (the authors of the NORGRAIN form).

In addition, the Special Circular contains useful guidance on the proper context in which a vessel should be described as “STBC” or “Self Trimming Bulk Carrier”.

It is hoped that these guiding notes will assist the dry cargo sector in avoiding disputes that arise out of the mis-description of a vessel as “STBC” when the term is not appropriate to the type of commodity agreed to be carried.


Tks Suraz

Here is the circular


From Bimco - 05th Sept

Definition of STBC - Self Trimming Bulk Carrier – NORGRAIN „89

BIMCO and the Association of Shipbrokers and Agents, USA Inc, (ASBA) have jointly drafted an interpretation of the term “self trimming” as used in NORGRAIN ’89 and also developed some guidance notes to help avoid the frequent misuse of the vessel description “STBC” in the dry cargo sector.


In Clause 12(a) of NORGRAIN ’89 a reference is made to “self trimming” but no definition is given. ASBA, as the authors of NORGRAIN ’89, have worked together with BIMCO to produce a welcome interpretation of the term as follows:

For the purpose of Clause 12(a) of the NORGRAIN 89 Charter Party, the term self-trimming is intended to mean that when loading a full cargo of free flowing grain in bulk (any and all grains as defined by the International Grain Code) in all holds, no additional trimming other than customary spout/loader trimming will be required.

Use of the term “STBC”

BIMCO and ASBA recommend, for the avoidance of doubt, that when using the term "STBC" in a charter party, it is expressly stated to which cargo commodity the "self-trimming" characteristic of the vessel shall apply, i.e., "STBC - when loading of free-flowing grain cargoes only".

Notes on "STBC"

A bulk carrier described as STBC (Self Trimming Bulk Carrier) in a charter party for commodities other than grain means that the vessel is able to self-trim specified free-flowing cargo when loading by virtue of the physical characteristics of the design of its holds without the need for additional trimming.

In a time charter party the question of whether a vessel is "self-trimming" is dependent on the physical characteristics of the vessel's holds and subject to an agreed and specified list of cargoes that can be carried.

Owners and brokers should exercise care when describing a vessel as a "STBC" to ensure that the cargo contracted to be carried is physically capable of being self-trimmed when loading by virtue of the vessel's hold design. STBC will not apply to all dry bulk cargo commodities and owners may incur additional liabilities and costs if manual cargo trimming when loading is required by a vessel described as "self-trimming".

Source: BIMCO Documentary Affairs Department: documentary@bimco.org

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No one is perfect

Least of all I.

Thanks to the person who reminded me that the picture of the ship on my "VS Dry Cargo voyage estimation pack" was infact a tanker vessel.

Not great - and I blame the person who designed the cover for me (a non shipping person). The mistake didnt actually register with me for a few weeks (I probably thought it was a gearless BC) after which time I promised myself I would get around to changing it. So after some prompting I have now changed the cover picture.

Thanks (I think) to Scotty my IT Geek (guru) for hire.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chinese economy looking very healthy which is great for shipping


Chinese international trade soars September 10, 2010

China's exports rose 34.4 per cent in August from a year earlier and imports were up 35.2
per cent, the General Administration of Customs said today.

That left China with a trade surplus of $20 billion, compared with a surplus of $28.7 billion in July.

The median forecast of economists polled by Reuters was for exports to rise 35 per cent and imports to climb 26.1 per cent, with a projected trade surplus of $27.1 billion.



Shipbrokers and the law

I am consulting for a trading company. Part of my job is to help negotiate but also a huge aspect is to educate the chartering person so that one day he can fly alone. This process can take years because their is alot to learn. I am still learning and I still have a mentor to help me with the occassional thing that needs clarification (yes even VS continues to learn).

Last week we were discussing recaps and charterparties. The discussion made me realise that many new people to shipping do not realise the significance of every paragraph, every word, every full stop, every comma and every verbal conversation that takes place during a formal negotiation (offers, counter offers etc)

The brokers job is to account for all these aspects of the comminucation process. That is why one needs to be organised and also to have an understanding that just about everything CAN be significant. Not ALWAYS significant.....but sometimes.

No need to remind those that have been around for a while that many things can and will go wrong during the course of a day. When they go horribly wrong things get ugly very quickly. And guess what? if there is an area of 'legal contention' highly paid lawyers will be sifting through the brokers notes and emails looking for 'negligent' work in the hope of pushing responsibility out of the laps of their clients and into yours.

Moral here is

- know your stuff
- keep good records
- never assume that you can change things / omit things / add things without checking and reconfirming
- always get your principals to check your work and sign of on it (through the process)
- have professional indemity insurance

Onwards and Upwards
The Virtual Shipbroker