- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

01 October 2012; At Sea.

Although hurricane Miriam is long gone, we are staying under its influence, as the general flow of the current along the Mexican coast is the opposite way at the moment. It should not take long before it is reversing itself to normal but at the moment it is in our favor and giving us 0.7 knots extra speed free of charge. We had a dry day today which is also a pleasant surprise as the rainy season is still in full swing. I expect that we will get some rain during the coming night as this is not usual for the area at the moment. There is a lot of moisture in the air and at a certain moment it will have to come down. We sailed about 10 miles from the coast and we could see how green the mountain slopes were and that is a good indication that it has been raining here a lot lately. But that is the way it is, if you visit the Far East during the monsoon season you have to keep up your umbrella all day long up as well, and for Middle America it is the same, although the rainy season does not have a special name here.

Today we had the Electricians all over the bridge as they had to install a new gadget. We are getting a Deadmans Watch button. This is basically an alarm that goes off after a certain time if it is not acknowledged timely by the watch keeping officer. The idea is, if a watch keeper would fall asleep on the bridge and he/she does not reset the alarm that will goes off in the accommodation and wakes up the other officers before things go horribly wrong. It is an issue that happens in the short sea trade, where 6 on 6 off watches are allowed and the navigators suffer greatly from fatigue as the legislation does not take into account the tiresome hours that are spent on deck looking after the cargo operation.

As a result all ships have to be equipped now with Deadmans buttons; for a cruise ship a bit peculiar as we always have four people on the bridge, and they won’t fall asleep as the phone constantly rings and there are always alarms going off. Apart from a buzzer on the bridge, which has to be acknowledged by the Officer of the Watch, there are buzzers in my cabin, in the cabin of the Staff Captain, and in the senior deck officer cabins behind the bridge. No doubt very useful for the cargo ships but for us it means yet another alarm on the bridge that can go off and probably will at the most un-opportune moment. Still it is progress according to those who approved the legislation so whom am I to complain.

The watch system as we have it going at the moment runs with two navigators all the time. During the dark hours both are in the wheel house, during daylight hours and when there is no traffic, one can be in the chartroom behind the wheelhouse doing administration. We call this sailing under Green condition. When there is traffic, reduced visibility, ice or other mayhem in the area, we go to Amber, which means 2 navigators in the wheelhouse (one for navigating the other for backup and for the phone) and the staff captain or captain on alert and standby. If we are coming close to expected mayhem, or sailing in confined waters or entering and leaving port, then we go to red condition or red manning. Then we still have the two navigators, we have the captain and the staff captain on the bridge and most of the time a cadet as well to run extra errands. For the various stages we can push a button connected to the computer network in the ship and it then shows on all the screens the manning status of the bridge. Red on the screen means, do not call the bridge unless it is a REAL emergency.

We are waiting now for our last addition and that is traffic lights outside the bridge entrance doors, so that people on the way to the bridge for an errand can see if they should even attempt to ring the door buzzer (yes, another alarm) or refrain from doing so.

Tomorrow we will arrive at 07.30 at the pilot station, following the Norwegian Jewel into Hualtalco de Santa Cruz. The bridge and engine room will be under Red manning status and we will know that it will be the same on the Jewel. We are going in as number two, as the Jewel will be leaving first.

Weather for tomorrow, most likely overcast with maybe a chance of showers. If the sun comes through then it is going to be very warm, with temperatures into the 90’s as there will be no wind at all. So I warned the guests about sun block, bottled water and washing their hands often, as with the change of the season, the NLV bug is out there again.


  1. For a moment, I was reminded of the alert levels used on Star Trek. Is there a Chief Engineer named ‘Scotty’? 😉

    I hope there is an atttempt by the designers and installers to use a different note or sound for each buzzer. But maybe not as extreme as Mrs. Bucket’s (or– ‘Bouquet’ as she pronounces it) use of the Westminister Chimes for her front door (Keeping Up Appearances)

    • There was a chief engineer on the Queen Mary 2 a number of years ago 2006, whose name was Scott Mackenzie, who even looked like our star trek engineer. He was not a great fan of that TV series.

      I am hoping for Jingle Bells for christmas

      Captain Albert

  2. Good info in the blog today… Any and all ‘safety’ improvements are welcomed.

    I’ve never been on an actual bridge but, this past June, on the Explorer of the Seas, my hubby and I visited the ‘Peek-A-Boo’ Bridge, which is really just a few windows to peek through, over the real bridge.

    I was impressed with what we saw (huge console unit with bucket seats! 🙂 and there was even a ‘person’ at the control unit (very Star-Trek like) who really tried to look busy…but alas, he gave in to the photo-op! LOL!! He at least, had a great time with us novice navigators.

    It really doesn’t take much to impress me, especially after I’ve been served by the Bar Waiters!! Would have been nice to see some flashing lights and hear buzzers going off…guess it was just to ‘smooth’ of a cruise… loved it, loved it.

    Considering an email I received today from Holland America, maybe HAL might be in my future for 2014….maybe, I’ll get to see a real bridge in action during the Panama Canal route…hmmm???

    What do you think Captain Albert? Do you ever hold Bridge Tours?

    • Good morning,

      we do ocasionally bridge tours in port, but there is seldom much interest. At sea is an issue nowadays with the regulatory requirements that are out there now.

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Capt. Albert

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