- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

01 December 2007, Barbados.

Bridgetown Barbados is a busy day on a Saturday. In the line up were the Emerald Princess, the Star Clipper, The Veendam, the Seabourn Pride, an oil tanker, two Royal British Navy support ships and a French destroyer. The Freewinds and another cargo ship were already inside. As a result the two pilots could not cope and our pilot boarded 25 minutes past the agreed time. This upset the Seabourn Pride who came in just after me. I was not going fast enough for their taste so the pilot started squawking. I can dock very fast if I have to but with only 100 feet clearance to the Freewinds and a 100 feet to the Emerald Princess behind me, I took my time this time. Also the weather was so gorgeous that the guests really enjoyed this arrival, so why hurry. Just after 7 am. we were docked for a long day in port as I had postponed sailing time by two hours.

We docked at the sugar berth, which very close to the passenger terminal. Guests can easily walk it. The Emerald Princess was at the breakwater, which is a long walk and then the port has little shuttle buses running, to transport the guests from the gangway to the terminal. The funny thing to see was that the pilot of the Veendam was later on driving one of the buses. Either being a pilot in Barbados does not pay that much or his wife is a very experienced credit card user.


The problem with the sugar berth is that the ship can only dock starboard side alongside. Otherwise one of the Sugar conveyor towers will touch our overhanging Lido Restaurant. This is much to the annoyance of the chief officer, who desperately wants to dock portside alongside everywhere to do maintenance on the portside hull. In the preponderance of the ports we have to dock starboard alongside because of local circumstances, such as here in Barbados. If there is a choice, then the docking side is decided for me by others. In Grenada I have to dock portside alongside on orders of the Bo ‘sun, who want to paint the portside blue hull. In coming Bonaire I have to dock portside as the 3rd officer has to lower his starboard lifeboats. Who said that a captain
was in command ??? I just have to do what I am told to. For Aruba we are all in agreement. Portside it will be. I have to get out of the port, the Bo ‘sun wants it for his blue hull, the chief officer for the white superstructure and the engineers for off-loading garbage. It is wonderful to have a harmonious ship…………………..

As far as lowering lifeboats, in Barbados we had a general drill, with ALL the crew involved and the plan was to lower all the portside lifeboats into the water for exercising. Normally with a strong easterly wind it is a great port to do this, as the boats can play in the lee of the ship. With the little wind we had the last few days, there was a northerly swell running along the island and into the port, making the ship slowly rock along the berth. Then it is getting a bit difficult to operate the davits. Lowering away and sailing away with boats is not a problem. Coming back can be dangerous as the lower blocks, connected to the falls, rise and fall with the movement of the vessel and there is always a chance that a crewmember gets stuck between the block and the lifeboat if it moves too much. So we kept the boats out of the water and left the sailing around for another day.

Sail away from very beautiful. No wind, the Star Clipper had all its sailing masts lit up, the cargo terminal was one blaze of light and the skies were ablaze with stars. No wind at all, so I could steer the ship out of the port using only the bow thruster and the main propellers. It is a slow run to Grenada and with the following (little bit of) wind we will be gliding over the waves tonight.


  1. Captain,
    I feel like I am in the middle of a great soap opera but some of the story lines are left unfinished…….what happened to the Spa girl who was late on board. Is she still with us?

  2. hey capt,
    a small query …is this dock starboard side alongside is the same as coming alongside port side to or is it coming alongside stbd side to.

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