Part Four: Creative Exploration. Quotes from the Captain

Ships are known for pampering and spoiling their pax. An over-abundance of food; a full “what’s happening” program of activity; heavily-promoted and tempting sales for those who shop (not us);  evening entertainments; casino; lectures, leisure around the Lido pool and for those who desire, a Spa. However all the time this activity unfolds, there is another reality taking place aboard ship:  the challenges of the elements faced by officers and crew on the Bridge. The Captain on our recent sailing, Master Albert Schoonderbeek, has his own Blog, sharing some of this other reality. Here are some excerpts:
 Henri with Captain Schoonderbeek

April 14 (at sea) “We got the full brunt of the Caribbean Sea winds. Normally called the Trade Winds but this went beyond what a Trade Wind is supposed to be.  Winds of 30 knots sometimes peaking at 40 knots are not Trade Winds. They are gales.  For the pax luckily the winds were mostly on the bow so it did not affect life o/b. The front superstructure of the ship is nicely shielding the winds from reaching the walk-around (promenade) decks.

April 15 (Bonaire) “The wind kept pounding away and pushed the current up as well.”

April 16 (Willemstad, Curacao) “The port entrance, St. Anna Baai, is perpendicular on wind and current. If you head straight in on course line, you’d run aground.  Wind and current push you onto the west side of the Channel.  It is not one of the easiest ports.

April 20 (at sea) “After a long but good day in the Panama Canal it was time for some relaxation

Flying Fish

We saw turtles paddling by, dolphins showing off, and a few flying fish trying to take off.  There was no wind and they fell back in the sea after a few feet.

April 24 (Puerto Chiapas, Mexico)  “The rising of the sun was eagerly awaited by us on the bridge so that we could see the breakwater and how the swell was doing.  Sunrise was at 06h50 but we do not need the daylight to have a good look. 

"For the sailor, sunrise exists in three stages. First: NAUTICAL TWILIGHT, the moment you can still see the stars but also the horizon, so you can take star observations from your position fix.  Then there is CIVIL TWILIGHT, the moment the stars are too vague to still use the sextant. That period lasts until the sun comes above the horizon.  Each period lasts about 20 minutes.  By 06h30 when civil twilight started, we could already see enough of the breakwater to get a good estimate how the swell was running.  The breakwater was doing its job, breaking the water.  It was low tide, and that meant there would be no more than 12 feet (!) under the keel.”

April 30 (at sea)  “The highest winds we observed were around 15h00 when it breezed up to 43 knots.  That is a wind force 9 on Mr. Beaufort’s scale.  The 30-40 knots of wind slows the ship down and then the swell that comes with it (13-16 feet) will do the rest”.

May 2 (at sea) “Entering the North Pacific. No more wind. Very low hanging clouds and so thick that visibility was reduced to about 150 feet.  In the old Atlantic days they would call that a “one funnel fog”, you could only see the first of the three or four funnels.  The bridge went to battle stations, double manning, all watertight doors closed, and the foghorn blowing every 2 minutes so the whole world could hear that we were there, and that the Captain was on the bridge.

We had a mix of sunny, hot weather, rolling seas, strong winds, fog, calm seas – all in three weeks.  When we reached Juan de Fuca Strait it was sunny, with the ocean like a mirror.  (Living in this region, we know how rare that is when sometimes major storm winds barrel down the Strait, which is also often shrouded in fog.) 
The ship arrived at the pilot station on schedule at 17h30, ready to dock an hour later at Ogden Point in Victoria.  From the sports deck, starboard, we sighted with binoculars the “White House” and two windows of our apartment.  Welcome home. Enjoy!
Henri van Bentum