- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

04 December 2007, Kralendijk Bonaire.

The distance between El Guamache and Kralendijk is a long one, so as soon as we left the anchorage, we went pedal to the metal. Keeping my fingers crossed and waiting if our new found speed would hold out. An hour later we were doing over 19 knots and we were in business. Thus we arrived nicely on time at the pilot station. A lot of guests are confused with Bonaire, as they all think that because it is a small island, the moment you see it, is the moment that you are there.

Unfortunately that is not the case. Bonaire is shaped like a crooked Banana with Kralendijk located where the brand sticker can be found. Thus if you come from the South as we did, you still have to sail another 40 minutes towards the north, slow down and then pick up the pilot. The pilot was also nicely on time as he had been awake for hours. He had been piloting a tanker at 1 am., a salt ship at 4 am, the Sea Princess at 6 am. and now us at 8 am. He was hoping to go to bed afterwards, the end of the shift, but as he had drank too much coffee in those past hours, he was still way to awake for that. While I docked the ship, he directed the line boats who had to bring our long mooring lines to the bollards and dolphins at the shore.

The north pier, which was our dock this time, is really much too small for the Veendam. Only about 60 meters of the ship rests against the fenders, the rest sticks out fore and aft. Because of that it is important to dock squarely against the dock with a gentle motion, as otherwise the bow or the stern will angle away. With the long lines given ashore a balance is then found and the ship rests for the remainder of the call against this small pier. That remainder of the call was quite long, as I extended the visit with 2 hours to give some missed time back from earlier in the cruise. Departure time 20.00 hrs. versus 18.00 hrs and thus an all on board time of 19.30 hrs versus 17.30 hrs. All on board is always 30 minutes before the official sailing time as we need some time to trace missing guests, take in the gangway and let go the lines.

Yesterday I explained a little bit about the anchors. This time we move a bit further aft, where the ships stabilizers are located, in the middle. A very important part of the cruise operation as it dampens out 90% of the rolling movement (from side to side) the ship, so it makes the ship less wobbly and the guests as well. It does not do 100% so there will always be some movement left. Thus if the ship still moves considerably with the stabilizers out, you have an idea about how bad it would be without them. The Veendam has two stabilizers as have most other ships. Some very long ships, such as the Queen Mary 2, have two sets. There are two versions; those that are being pushed out of the hull on a 90o angle before they are put in operation and those who fold in and out of the hull. The Veendam has the latter version.


They are located amidships about 15 feet under the waterline and when sailing through clear ocean water you can just see the tip when looking down from the Lido restaurant overhang. The principle is quite simple. When in the out position, the speed of the ship causes water to flow over the wing. The little flap at the end moves either up or down. The force of the flowing water against this flap causes an upward or a downward lift. This lift pushes the side of the ship up or down. By using a gyro scope that at all times measures a level platform, we can use the up and down lift contrary to the rolling, e.g. up and down sideways movement of the ship and so balance things out. On the photos see you the stabilizer just after the ship was dry docked. The top coating paint is missing at various places and that is one of the reasons a ship goes into dry dock. But more about that later.

We left Bonaire just before 8 pm. as it always takes such a long time to get the very long mooring lines in and traveled with a sedate speed of 15 knots to our next port of call Oranje Stad Aruba.


  1. Capt. thanks much for the pics of the spoilers. Never knew they had flaps like an aircraft wing! Quick question if you don’t mind: what’s the difference between a “bollard” and a “dolphin”? Thank you!

  2. Captain Albert: thanks also for posting the photos of the stabilizer. I have wondered for a long time what they looked like once extended-just like an aircraft wing! They do not look like they extend out very far, but I imagine they have to be pretty substantial. Do they extend automatically when the ship reaches a certain roll rate/angle or do are they extended upon command from the bridge, or both? I have learned much from your blog and you have given us great appreciation for what you and the crew does each and every day. Thank you!

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