Voyage Estimating

Voyage estimating is an important skill for all persons engaged in the activity of dry-cargo chartering, whether from an owner’s or a charterer’s perspective, even for competitive brokers. It is common these days for charterers to undertake contracts, to relet tonnage and to take in vessels not owned by them, on voyage or on timecharter, whereas competitive brokers need the ability to evaluate potential business, to enable them to present outwardly unattractive cargoes and vessels in their true light. So it is not only those closely associated with the control of tonnage that need the knowledge and ability this lesson sets out to help you acquire. The first essential in voyage estimating is to examine the subject heading itself. Despite the reference to ‘voyage’, voyage estimating will inevitably include the realistic valuation of timecharter trips, since these are rarely as financially straightforward as they first might appear. The work ‘estimate’ speaks for itself and, whilst we have no wish to promote inaccuracy, it is necessary to point out that ships do not run like clockwork and it is, therefore, impossible to calculate to perfection. That is not to suggest that one’s aim should be less than total accuracy, and it is essential to do best towards achieving a realistic appraisal of the potential worth of any proposed venture. One should always compare a final ‘estimate’ with the eventual ‘results’ of a voyage or trip, so that any procedural shortcomings can be identified, and future errors avoided. For voyage estimating it is essential to have a knowledge of maritime geography, with particular regard to distances and permissible loadlines (see Lesson Nine). There are several commercial distance tables available to assist with distances involved and one of these should always be used when embarking on a full-blown voyage estimate. To start such an exercise using a guess for the most fundamental piece of data would be very foolish; there is a great deal of sense in the dictum ‘don’t remember the fact ‘remember where to find it’.