Under a beautiful sunny sky we arrived at the dock in Grand Turk as part of a mighty convoy of three ships filled with eager beach go-ers. Apart from us there was the Carnival Elation and the Crystal Symphony. There is only one dock for two ships and apart from the fact that the larger ships normally have docking preference, own ships go first as well, and thus the Symphony had to go to anchor. As mentioned before, anchoring at Grand Turk is a mixed blessing as the area is so exposed to the wind. Exposed to any wind direction so you have to have a lucky day. The Symphony was lucky today and although there was a bit of wind, wind force 2 breezing up to 4 during the day, the ship could maintain a good lee and thus they could be part of the invasion of Grand Turk.
I always sort of worry that when we are together in a Resort port with more ships, if the resort can then handle it as you do not want to go somewhere and then not be able to deliver the experience that you promised. So today 2500 + 2100+ 800 guests (potential numbers) went ashore and I was quite happy to see that there was space for everybody with room to spare. I estimated that about 25% of the beach stretchers (at the beach and at the pool) were still available. Thus two mega liners (if they would fit in the dock) can easily be accommodated. It might have been a bit busy in Cockburn Town but then the island’s main income is tourism so there is always some price to pay. I live in small coastal town in the UK with about 8000 inhabitants but in the summer that goes up to 30,000 or so as we are a Sea Side resort town. Nobody complains about it as it is the way the town survives. (I just try to avoid driving through the high street as we then have our own summer traffic jam, as there is no bypass)
My interest today was focused on the Fire Structural Protection of the ship. The Nieuw Statendam is almost a year old and thus one could wonder what could structurally be wrong? Answer: nothing. This has to do with what the crew stores in lockers. As we are a ship fire protection is of the utmost importance and thus certain things can only be stored in certain areas. For example you cannot just store chemicals under a Guest cabin. If that is needed, then the locker on the deck below needs to be of a very special protection. Same thing for Electric lockers as there is a higher chance of a short-circuit No combustibles are allowed. So if there would be a short circuit then it would fizzle out without setting anything on fire. All such lockers are protected with a Fire rated door of A60, which means that the fire, if sustained, would not be able to get out any earlier than 60 minutes of continuous burning. (And by that time the fire teams will have long time taken care it)
So what is then the challenge? The crew: they are hoarders. We all are, from the captain down to the bellboy. We do not like to throw things away. We know that spare parts take time to arrive as we cannot walk to the nearest Home Depot and we do not know if we can get everything we would like to have, as we all work with a budget. So we hoard. And we try to put things away…… somewhere handy. Most of our crew are not sailors, they are hotel service people and they rotate, they join and they resign. We have a constant training program going to teach these new joiners, these landlubbers, that a certain available space is not always the same as your garage at home.
Apart from training, we have a regular locker inspections, to turf out what went in but should not have gone in. That is the simple part. Where I come is, is where we need to look if the locker fire rating is correctly applied, if everything is structurally in good order and if what is in there can stay if it is not a crystal clear yes or no. SOLAS (Safety of Lives At Sea) gives guidance but with 14 categories of storage options, it is not so easy if you are not involved with it every day. So when I am on board and there is space in my program I always offer the Captain to give his whole ship a Locker Safety and Work Place Safety Sweep to ensure that the various departments can take from there again. As the Nieuw Statendam is new, there is not much out of synch; but I must say, that the crew is not letting me down with “saving things which might be handy next time”. We just have to make sure they save it in the correct locker.
Tonight we will sail towards San Juan and should arrive at the pilot station at 11.45 hrs. Which means we will pass Morro Castle at noon time. The weather should be good. They had some light rain but tomorrow should be dry and nearly wind still in downtown. So it will be a hot San Juan day with 88oF or 31oC. The ship will stay there until late evening as the next day is St. Thomas which is just around the corner.