Monday, October 4, 2010

Uptake growing steadily

The VS Voyage Estimation Pack has now sold into 10 different countries. The pack is a unique combination of structured tutorial and fully functional software.

One or two of you have had trouble downloading the software due in the main to changing technologies. I am proud to say that for every small issue we have resolved the problems within a few days. My support staff of IT geeks is ready, willing and able to adapt to changes in the technology market.

Thanks to all for your support.

Best regards
The Virtual Shipbroker

Monday, February 22, 2010

Excellent uptake

Thank you to those 2 companies who after testing the software have gone on to purchase multiple passwords. A great show of support.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Like no other learning tool (amazing insights)

"The best dry bulk chartering learning tool in the market"!

As you guys know the estimation pack contains an 82 page tutorial. Quite a few of you have asked to know a little more about how the tutorial works. The feedback sofar (from buyers) has been overwhelmingly great.

On average it is taking students atleast 4 weeks to work trhough all the examples. It is not easy and the workload is the same as a 6 month chartering course. It is definately not something you can complete over a weekend.

Anyway - In order to help those of you who are undecided I have given below a few 'snippets' of what you can expect. The snippets are in no particular order but they should give you the idea of what you can expect in each and every example.

This workbook will have YOU moonlighting as a chartering expert (of the highest order) in a very short period of time.

Think like a shipowner, think like a charterer, think like a freight trader, think like a fixing machine!

Thats the promise


The shipowner (from example 3 in the workbook)

"Despite the MV Watsons uncompetitive position, Joe is actually very keen to see if he can fix this cargo. The reason being is that Odessa is an excellent destination for him. His company has 2 major contracts from the Black Sea back to South Korea so if he can send his ship into the Black Sea this sets them up nicely (economically speaking) for this ships next employment.

This is an important point. Being a successful shipowner is not just about getting the best price for the voyage at hand. It is also about positioning ships in order to reap the benefits from subsequent voyages.

First task – Joe runs his voyage calculation with the available information".
(Full Voyage calculation follows)

The charterer (From example 1 in the workbook)

Ms Chan is the shipping coordinator for INDINED COAL LTD. She is based in Jakarta. She is not quite sure how she became involved in shipping because her background is a business degree from the University of Java. Having started at the company in logistics support she soon found herself involved in the crazy world of chartering ships. She has been on a huge learning curve.

When she first started out chartering ships for the coal, she had no idea what she was doing. To make matters worse the freight rates that shipowners and shipbrokers were quoting seemed to be very random. Some were high, some were low. One day they were x amount and the next day the prices had changed dramatically. On a number of occasions she was caught out very badly and the company lost in excess of USD 200,000 on a shipping deal gone wrong.

She felt helpless and completely powerless at the hands of the fast talking shipbrokers and the hugely experiences shipowners. She could not help feeling like a lamb being brought to the slaughter.

Then things changed. One day when surfing the internet she stumbled across the Virtual Shipbroker Blog and decided that the ‘VS Voyage Estimation Pack’ was the exact thing she needed. She followed all the real life examples and within weeks she was an expert.

No more would she feel so helpless. She could run the voyage numbers herself and not just take the brokers word. She could access market reports and insert the relevant TC IN market rates without having annoyed the seemingly grumpy, perpetually busy shipowners. She could give her marketing and sales department’s instant advice re CNF vs FOB market rates. She would also learn a new transferable skill and maybe one day become a shipbroker or even a shipowner (She likes golf and they always seem to play golf!)

The Shipbroker (from example 4 in the workbook)

After he sent the order to Joe Shipowner, Orlando then rang the charterers to tell them about the ship. It’s important to register the ships interest just incase another broker is trying to do the same. Orlando also managed to gleam from the charterers that their ‘ideas’ are USD 9.50 pmt. This IDEA is based on charterers feeling for the current market.

Armed with this information, Orlando decides to run a voyage calculation just to see if the charterer’s ideas are realistic. Luckily for him he has run this same calculation 50 times before so it is already set up on his “VS Voyage estimation software’. All he has to do is enter the ships details and the current TC IN market rate for a ship like the Jingo Jingo.

As a broker Orlando has access to lots of market information. He reads market report and speaks to shipowners and charterers everyday. In his considered opinion Joe Ship Owners vessel – the MV Jingo Jingo is worth around USD 14,500 per day on a time charter basis.

The freight trader (from example 3)

Enter Fred the freight trader. Orlando explains the situation to Fred. Fred knows the Indian market very well and he has experience discharging ships during the monsoon. He knows it can get ugly but if Fred can fix the right terms with Mumbai Steel then he can limit his risk. He also needs to be able to fix one of the 5 ships on a time charter basis at a reasonable hire rate.

With some work, some organisation and some luck, he could make a few hundred thousand dollars in profit.

Orlando agrees to send Fred the descriptions and the time charter ideas for three of the most likely ships.

Here are the ships

etc etc

Happy Fixing
The Virtual Shipbroker
(any questions just drop me a line)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More info about the voyage estimation software and tutorial

Quite a few people have asked about the chances of purchasing either the software or the tutorial as seperate items.

At this stage I will only sell them together. In truth the higher value item in my opinion is the tutorial. The software is just an added extra.

The tutorial IMO is an unbeliveable way to learn the essential skills of chartering. There is no other product quite like it. So for the tutorial alone is well worth the price.

You will learn more from the tutorial and the software than any formal shipping course (study unit) at around 1/4 of the price. Think about how much you would need to pay to study just one unit from any reputable shipping course and you will see the value. Plus if you have read any of my previous books and blog you will note that I can make difficult topics easier to understand. This is not always the case. Throw in the software that will be yours forever, the ability to email me at anytime and get a guaranteed reply, - its incredible value.

Here are some of the comments sofar from a purchaser and a tester..(The testers gave me valuable feedback that I was able to incorporate into the tutorial - thank you testers - you know who you are...)


"This was fantastic journey and I am more then happy if I was able to help with my questions".

"VS, with your software, your great support over past 3-4 days I can run Voyage estimations, Isn't is phenomenal for a student with no previous experience?"

"the software is excellent. I have checked against other software we have inhouse and the results are the same"

"Thank you so so much for creating the software, for outstanding Tutorial with all its examples and important topics to learn about".
" head is spinning". Can I use the software on more than one computer? (The answer is yes btw but with only one login)

"It's was so interesting to read the real life situation from example 2 with its Bad End. I cannot stop taking notes".
"Great example I enjoyed the part how in different situations different people use software and how Ms is getting from zero to hero. I see you are involving here Fixing machine".



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Peek - Virtual Shipbroker Estimation Software Final Product.

Click to enlarge

Here are the dry cargo voyage estimation examples that are in the tutorial

1. Handymax coal Indonesia to china
2. Handymax coal Australia to India
3. Handymax cement South East Asia to Europe
4. Handymax parcels from Black Sea to Far East
5. Panamax coal Australia to India
6. Panamax Iron Ore India to China
7. Panamax Coal USEC to Europe
8. Supramax grain USG to Japan
9. Handysize grain River Plate to Europe

Each example involves a background fictional story to help put the calculation in perspective and allow the user to see how different people run different calculations.

Its like riding a bike. Can take you a little while to get your balance but once up - there is no turning back!


(BTW, once purchased I am available to the user at anytime to help with any complicated scenarios)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Copyright and security

There is copyright and important security measures on both the tutorial and the software. The software will require unique password verification that will allow limited users. For those wanting to add more than one user there will be an option to add additional passwords at a small cost. In the case of a security breach and software becomes unusable there will be NO refunds.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Software Computer Requirements

Read before buying

Note: Minimum System requirments;

- The software is only a small application
- Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista; Windows XP; Windows 7.

In order for the software to download on any of the above windows operating systems you need to have already on your system the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

This can take sometime to download (5-20 minutes depending on your computer) and is available for free from Microsoft at

Download NOW - microsoft .net framework 3.5


Monday, January 11, 2010

The VS Voyage Estimation Software and Tutorial

Suitable for

Ship Owners
Ship Operators
Freight Traders
Ship Brokers
Advanced Students and
Shipping Analysts

Fact 1: Did you know that the basics of running accurate voyage estimations have not changed at all in over 400 years!

 Fact 2:  Nor will it! There are costs and there are projected revenues. These basic variables remain unchanged.

Fact 3: All voyage estimation software available on the market is basically the SAME.
The way they differentiate themselves is as follows;

1. add-ons i.e. In built distance tables / port costs / bunker costs.

2. By integrating the voyage estimation software with other software such as in-house operations, accounting and email applications.

Important Note: For these privileges, of which I have no doubt are real and important for many people, software firms charge you a considerable amount of money.

 Not only are you up for a considerable amount of money BUT you are also locked in!

How? Why?

Virtually all of the software in the market is web based which means you have to log into the providers system in order to access your intellectual property. Nothing wrong with that in the main - but what it means in practice is that you are also locked into a long term relationship with the provider paying yearly subscriptions from now until……..well…. you are 6 feet under.

So this is where the VS Estimation pack is different.

The software looks, feels and calculates with the same accuracy and ease as its’ more expensive counterparts


1. It is a stand alone program. You buy it from VS, download it onto your computer and it is yours forever. No costly subscriptions to deal with. Carry it with you everywhere. And when your web server is down…don’t fear! This software will work. And when you internet connection is working very slowly….don’t fret! This software works at the same fast speed all the time!

Important note:

2. There are no add-ons. No distance tables, no in built ports costs etc. HOWEVER, here is the good news. 90 percent of you don’t need them! And because they are not included, the VS software is priced accordingly.

Why don’t you need them?

Port distance tables – are free on the ‘world wide web’ (check my blog). Pay thousands for the add-on or access the information for free (at almost the same speed)? Your choice!

Daily Fuel Prices: Ditto!

Port costs and restrictions – Much of the information is free on the ‘world wide web’.
The most important point is this - Even the most seasoned of voyage estimators DO NOT rely on the inbuilt port costs and port restrictions provided by the software providers. They use them merely as a guide. Why? Because there are too many variables and there is too much at risk at getting this part of a calculation wrong.

So in truth this add-on although useful is mostly a gimmick!

In the pack - I show you how the professionals get access to this information and I also show you how to run effective calculations without having all the ‘information’ at hand.

3. There is no integration with other in-house software programs. The VS Voyage Estimation Software is a stand alone application. It does not pretend to be all things to all people. Many of the well known industry software programs link the voyage estimation eventually with the operations, sales and accounting programs. This is very useful, but again only for a percentage of users.


Summary of user benefits

One time purchase - no yearly subscriptions. Save thousands of $

• Run your own voyage calculations/estimations
• Fully functional voyage calculation software
• Take just a few minutes to set up a new calculation from scratch, or change an existing one.
• Easy to use interface
• Save and retrieve upto 1,000 calculations
• Full Cargoes and up to 3 Part cargo options
• Shinc, Shex, Sshex, Satpmshex - load and discharge.
• Print summary results
• Profit and loss: Compare and contrast TC IN and Per Metric Ton values.
• All presented on one interactive screen
• Multiple passwords / users at small price

The Tutorial

What to expect

• Examples of 9 of the most common dry bulk voyage estimations.
• Complete the examples from start to finish.
• Seen from four different perspectives – The shipowner, the freight trader, the charterer and the shipbroker.
• Port costs: How to find good, accurate data without paying thousands of dollars.
• How to calculate and offer using ‘estimated port costs’
• Pro forma PORT AGENT emails (what to send to port agents in order to get all the relevant information for your voyage in question)
• Pro forma descriptions of all the major dry bulk ship types
• Vessel intake – how to work out how much your ship can load
• 2009 examples for the major canals and passage charges.

 This has been my biggest undertaking and should be available soon.

The Virtual Shipbroker

Monday, December 7, 2009

The software is completed

And its great...

All thats left is for yours truely to finish the tutorial booklet.

Lets hope its ready for the holiday season....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Rating Service

As a shipbroker - One thing you will hear adnausium is the shipowner lament 'I am not a free rating service!'

What the shipowner is saying to the broker is 'stop sending me voyage business that is not FIRM and ready to fix'. Shipowners are very busy you see (surfing the net) and dont want to waste time running a voyage calculation for a client that does not have a firm cargo.

So here is a huge reason every broker should know this skill - You become the FREE rating service. Run the numbers yourself without bothering your grumpy shipowners. And here's a secret - although you will now have the skills to rate your clients business it wont be 'totally' for free...........why? Because you will get more business by adding this skill to your overall service.

Conclusion: The VS voyage estimator pack could also be called "How to find a DRY bulk freight rate without bothering shipowners!"


BTW Sorry the delay on the pack - a few hiccups - I want it to be as comprehensive as possible.

Chin up!


Friday, October 9, 2009

How to be a Dry Bulk Shipowner

Hi All!

As stated in the virtual shipbroker blog my team of himalayan software developers are moving rapidly towards completion of the project..although they have been out of radio contact since 2 days ago when they went hiking up one of the worlds few 8,000 m mountains. Safe trip down guys the shipping world awaits!

In the meantime it occured to me that this blog and the pack could also be renamed 'How to be a dry bulk shipowner' - as this is the single most important skill needed.

Coming soon..........


Friday, September 25, 2009

The Voyage Estimator Pack

Over the coming few weeks I will be releasing the Virtual Shipbrokers Voyage Estimation Pack.

This website, on its own, will be useful for Students and Trainees but the 'pack' will be designed more for the already established shipping professional.

At this stage (the concept is not 100 pct actualised) it looks like being a multi faceted training guide and set of tools, for brokers, charterers and freight traders looking to run voyage estimations as part of their day to day job descriptions.

For those interested in learning more you will have the opportunity to take an indepth look at the art of voyage estimation from 3 different perspectives. This will be an opportunity to look into the minds of the various people who 'use vessel estimation' as part of their every day work. Each will have a different aim and each will have a different set of stakeholders and managers they need to report to. How do I know this? - Because I have been all of the above!

With this insight there will be numerous voyage calculation examples and accompanying explanations helping to better explain all the terms and trading theories involved in dry bulk shipping.

learn about trading patters, backhaul vs front haul, Delivering a ship APS or DOP etc and how all these relate to a cargo voyages profit and loss.

And there will be a little something in the pack so that you wont have to do all the calculations freehand!

The pack, together with this website, will give anyone, anywhere, all the necessary tools to take their performance and understanding to the next level. And all without breaking the bank.
No yearly subscriptions, no holding back information and you finally you get to ask me questions anytime you want!

Should be available over the next 1 month or so.

Best Regards

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Long Hand Voyage Calculation Example

For all those students and brokers out there wanting to learn more about the art of effective Voyage Estimating please find below one of the VS's very own long hand calcs for a well know bulk trade route. Bulk cement from Asia to Europe.

For the uninitiated - what lies below is the skeletal essence of the entire dry bulk industry. Beneath the thin layer of skin tissue remains the bones! Understand how to run 'good' voyage calculations and you understand 90 percent of what it means to be a shipowner, freight trader and a great broker (fixing machine).

The calculations may appear a little daunting at first but believe me if you take a day or so to work through some examples it will become much clearer in a very short time!

Having said that, voyage estimation is as much of an art as it is a science. I will be revealing some of those artisitc secrets to those who are up for it. Hang around!


Anyway back to the example at hand

Details including costs are approximate in todays market.

Cargo details
45,000 / 10 percent Cement
Load: 1 Sa Kosichang Thailand
Discharge: Genoa Italy
Laycan 1-10 December
Load speed: 20,000 Satpmshex
Discharge Speed: 10,000 Shinc
2.5 percent adcom + 1.25 brokerage

MV Jingo Jingo – Open Singapore 27 November
58,000 dwt SDBC on Draft 12.2 meter ssw
Speed and Consumption:
IFO (Fuel oil) 13.5 knots / 25mt (laden)
14 knots / 21mt (ballast)
MDO (Diesel Oil) 1.5mt at sea 1 mt in port

Other details that you need to collate

- Vessel delivery will take place dop Singapore.
- Vessels intake will be 49,500 mt bulk Cement
- Price of Bunkers: Spot Singapore prices IFO USD 423 / MDO USD 572 pmt
- Port Costs: Kohsichang USD 10,000, Genoa USD 55,000
- Miscellaneous expenses: USD 5,000
- Suez Canal cost: USD 203,000
- Suez canal Transit 1 day
- Net Daily Hire of the Ship (cost in the open market to charter a ship on a Time charter basis): USD 10,000 per day prorata.
- Loading will take: 3.12 days
- Discharging will take: 4.95 days
- Ballast Distance Singapore to Load port 865 NM
- Laden Distance 7,307 NM
- Repositioning leg distance 583 NM (reposition to Cape Passero)
- Extra Sailing Time allowed for bad weather: 1 day
- Turn Time 12 hours both ends


Prepare a Voyage Estimate to find out the PMT (per metric tonne) freight rate for this cargo to break even for the owners.

Step 1. Calculate the Voyage duration

A) Ballast leg = 865 nm/336 (14knots x 24 hours) = 2.57 days
B) Laden Leg = 7307 nm/324 (13.5knots x 24 hours) = 22.5 days
C) Repositioning Leg = 583 nm/336 (14 x 24 hours) = 1.74 days
Total Sailing days = 26.81

Plus days in port = 9.07 days (8.07 loading and discharging plus 1 day in total turn time)
Plus Bad weather = 1 day
Plus Suez transit = 1 day

Total estimated voyage Duration = 37.88 days

Step 2. Calculate the Bunker / Fuel Costs

a) IFO (Fuel oil) ast sea
Ballast leg 21mt IFO per day x 2.57 days = 53.97mt
Laden leg 25 mt IFO per day x 22.5 days = 562.5 mt
Repo leg 21 mt IFO per day x 1.74 days = 36.54mt
Total cost: 653.01 mt x USD 423 = USD 276,223

b) MDO (Diesel oil) at sea 1.5 mt per day x 26.81 days = 40.22 mt
Total Cost: 40.22 x USD 572 = USD 23,006

c) In Port Consumption
9.07 days x 1 mt MDO = 9.07 Mt MDO x USD 572
Total Cost = USD 5,188.04

Total Bunker cost (A+B+C) = USD 304,417

Step 3. Calculate TC in Costs (Chartered in Vessel Costs )

USD 10,000 per day x 37.88 days = USD 378,800

Step 4. Results

Calculate Total Voyage Costs

1. Total Bunker cost USD 304,417
2. Port Costs USD 65,000
3. TC in Costs USD 378,800
4. Miscellaneous USD 5,000
5. Suez canal USD 203,000

Costs USD 956,217
Plus Commission
of 3.75 percent of Total Cost USD 35,858

Total Voyage Cost USD 992075

Break even freight rate required to perform this voyage:
USD 992,075 / 49,500 mt cargo = USD 20.04 mt

Final Result (Freight rate needed) = USD 20.00 per metric tonne (rounded)

(disclaimer - this example is for teaching purposes only and readers should not rely on the accuracy or otherwise of the information provided for any other purpose other than to learn the estimation process)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Virtual Shipbrokers - Voyage Calculation Blog

Watch this space for all the tools you need to do accurate and cost effective dry bulk voyage calculations.

Perfect for Shipbrokers, Traders, Charterers, Shipowners and advanced Students.

My Blog