- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

17 November 2019; Fort de France, Martinique.

I do not know who currently makes the Google weather forecasts for this area but it looks like that they take guidance from the cruise brochures – where the sun always shines – and they are not doing it from the weather observations. As mentioned yesterday we were promised a rain free day, and it might have been rain free somewhere, but not in Martinique. Rain cloud after rain cloud kept rolling in. Luckily no torrential rains but enough of a drizzle and you still get wet. Positive thing here is, the rain is not cold and once the rain shower is gone, things dry up quite quickly. And later in the day it remained mostly dry, although dark clouds kept threatening. Continue reading

16 November 2019: Philipsburg St. Maarten.

The weather did not exactly follow what was promised as it rained considerably on arrival. A large band of rain clouds lay over the island and although the dry spells increased considerably it kept raining off and on for most of the day. I had been advised that we would be the only ship in port and also that turned out to be a schedule that was not followed. Instead of being by ourselves we had the ms Volendam in (which came early so she picked the best spot), the Seabourn Odyssey and the Adventure of the Seas. Not as busy as it can be in Philipsburg but still a nice and busy day with roughly 9000 guests in port and roughly 3000+ crew as well.  A good day for the shops and they do need the money. Continue reading

15 November 2019: At Sea (day 2)

We are in perfect vacation weather. At times there is hardly a cloud in the sky, the sea is deep blue and the temperature is made pleasant by the wind on deck. That also makes it dangerous as with the breeze you do not feel the sun burning on your skin and then it goes wrong quickly. Hence the captain keeps hammering on ‘sunblock, sunblock” during the Voice from the Bridge. We will find out tomorrow how many did not listen. My experience is that there will be quite a few. Some because they do not listen or believe anything, some because they know what they can take at home and do not realize that the sun is slightly different in intensity over here than at home. And to my utter amazement they are not always first time cruisers.  Today I also found out that we have a beach on board. I do not know where, but through the corridor marched this morning a child of 3 or 4 with spade and bucket on his way to the beach. He is a day early, but that did not deter him, he was on his way.  Tomorrow we are in St. Maarten and there is even a nice beach next to the dock so he will not have to go far. Continue reading

14 November 2019; At Sea (day 1)

It took most of the night to get out of the frontal system but by this morning we had a blue sky and a sunny sky. Sun taking over from the miserable grey day on departure.  And a very breezy departure it was as the middle of the frontal system was just laying over Port Everglades when it was time for the cruise ships to sail.  The Veendam used two tugboats as the wind went well over the 26 knots that she can handle on the thrusters but also because she was docked nose in and thus had to swing around in the basin and that would have made it all very marginal. The Koningsdam has much more power and she did not have to turn. Only had to make a 90o turn to starboard. Plus she had the advantage that if the wind would get too strong then it would always be possible to make a soft landing against pier 24/23. So we sailed without tugboats and even with the wind breezing up to 35 knots on occasion the captain could easily hold the ship in the middle of the fairway. Continue reading

13 November 2019; Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Sometimes I miss being on the bridge and playing with the ship. This morning I was quite happy that I made room for a younger captain and became Fleet Master. At 03.30 my cabin started to shake and I knew the ship was slowing down for the pilot station. This meant that the captain had been up there for at least for 30 minutes, most likely more. So a very early morning, followed by docking and then maybe a two hour nap because by 0830 hrs. The USCG would be standing outside his cabin for their CVE inspection. (Control Verification Inspection). That means he would be at least in full swing until the drills were over near 11 am.  All with items that had nothing to do with his regular day. Luckily sailing out this evening only takes 30 minutes and then he should be able to put his feet up. I have never seen that scenario played out during an episode of The Love Boat……………… Continue reading

12 November 2019; At Sea (day 7)

Today is our last and final day at sea. Yesterday afternoon and evening the ship found the occasional bump in the road when a complicated wave hit the hull. These waves/swell were mainly caused by the confused wave pattern which was the result of the influence of the “Cape Hatteras wave field” and what had been there before and what was caused by the wind shifting 180o during the day. But for the rest a nice steady ship and all was well in the world. And with those seas around us we are now approaching South East Providence channel, where we will be in the lee of the Bahama Islands by about 1800 hrs. Then early tomorrow morning we will enter the Straits of Florida and aim for a 04.00 Pilot station time. And that means to be docked 45 minutes later.  Very early in the morning but the captain wants to be early to have as much time as possible to prepare for what is going to be a very crazy day. Continue reading

11 November 2019; (Day 6)

I am a happy man as the weather is following the forecast again so my predictions are still coming true. By noon time the swell was almost gone and now we are back to a breezy North Atlantic but with very low waves. Once in a while we still catch a small “bump” in the road but if there is anyone on board who would complain about this making them sea sick; then my suggestion to them is to attend Happy Hour. A few discounted drinks (with free snacks in the Grand Dutch Café) and you walk exactly in sync, with the minute movement of the ship. The wave chart below gives blue colors again and that means that all is well in the world. Please note that in the area around Cape Hatteras to the North West from us the next wave field is building up again, in the same way as ours did three days ago. But by the time that this new wave field would merit any focus and consideration we will be docked in Fort Lauderdale. As we have now 37 hours to go from the moment I am writing this and that includes 1 more hour back tonight to get on the Florida time zone. Continue reading

10 November 2019; At Sea (Day 5)

The weather system with its wave front came our way and since lunch time today the ships moving a little bit more than before. But the forecast indicates that the wave field will veer away to the North East and thus by tomorrow morning, the little wobbles that we feel now, will be completely gone. See the wave chart below. This means that day 11 and 12 should be nice and quiet and tomorrow we can then see what the Weather in Florida will be. Normally a three day weather forecast is very reliable, unless there are hurricanes around but for Florida I prefer not to do any predictions until I am down to two days. The influence of the Gulf Stream is a major factor in the local weather and 72 hours is then a long period. Continue reading

09 November 2019:  At Sea (Day 4)

Another nice day at sea with the sun shining. We did have a shower in the morning, when the ship sailed through a narrow band of rain. This time it was the ship that caught the shower but in the last few days we also had showers catching up with the ship as it was blowing harder than the ship was traveling. On land it is not always easy to see how fast a shower is coming your way but at sea where everything if flat and open, the edge of the shower is quite often very clearly defined and you see a vertical curtain of dark matter coming closer. Rain is not dark, except in maybe very polluted areas but as the rain is dark due to the condensation moisture inside, it looks darker than its surroundings. Most guests who were exposed to it, ran inside for a cup of coffee and were then back again to catch some more sun. Continue reading

08 November 2019; At Sea (day 3)

Another nice day at sea with plenty of sunshine but still very breezy although with following winds. But there is no strength in the waves, and as was also the case yesterday, the ship is nice and steady. We are still nicely on our Rhumb Line to Fort Lauderdale, or better said to South East Providence channel in the Bahamas, as there we will change course to sail around the Bahama Bank and into the Straits of Florida. As you can see below, something is happening, something that I was already afraid about, Cape Hatteras is cooking up a new storm. It does that about every three days in the winter time and now we have to see where this storm is going. If it veers directly to the NNE in the Atlantic Ocean then even the swell might not reach us. But if it goes a little more NE or ENE then the swell might reach us. We have to keep an eye on that one for our last sea day before we get in the shelter of the various Bahamian Islands, its sandbanks and its cays. Continue reading

« Older posts