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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

04 November 2019: At Sea.

By 3 am the ship started to move and a bit more than expected. Apart from the rim of the weather system having dipped down further, earlier than expected, the regular ocean swell was also bit higher and short than expected. Still the ship did not move as much as it could have been and we were skirting the rim of the wave area running ahead of the weather front destined for the Bay of Biscay. While the wind died down this morning the swell remained, although slightly less than during the night and thus we have our first real sea day of the crossing. Wave and swell combined is just reaching the 4 meters or 12+ feet and that is just above the height that makes a quiet ship but also under height that makes a very lively ship.  After Madeira, about 12 hrs. after departure it should really calm down for the remainder of the crossing. The Captain is thinking about taking the Rhumb Line route instead of the Great Circle to stay as far to the south as possible. More about that in the coming days.

Tomorrow we will be in Funchal with good weather and we will not be the only ship. It will be a Dutch German day with the Germans being represented by the AidaStella and the Mariella Explorer. Although they left the 2 off on the listing I think that it is the same ship as we saw in Valetta and in Naples. The larger Aida ships, which includes the AidaStella, have a working brewery on board and that is something I think we at HAL should have as well.

This is the actual brewery system on board. everybody can see what the Braumeister makes from fresh seawater.

Fresh Beer and it saves on the recycling of beer bottles as well. I was told by somebody who worked there (in the 4 stripe capacity) that the “Braumeister” the man or lady who makes the beer is the only one on board who can tell the captain what to do. At a certain moment in the brew process you seem to need a steady ship otherwise something goes wrong and the brew goes off the boil. So if the ship wobbles too much then the Braumeister can call the Captain and tell him to do something about it. The AidaStella is somewhere in same the area as we are and thus has the same seas so there might a big course change and slow down required or they might just have to shut the brewery down for the time being. They brew three beers, a pilsner or lager, an unfiltered one (normally known as Weiss beer) and one for special occasions such as a Christmas beer or a carnival beer. I should not advertise Aida on my HAL blog as it is not my company but Aida is also owned by Carnival Corporation so we are one happy family. The Aida product is totally different but as long as you speak German and like a very casual product than it seems to be very good. And so seems to be the beer. Maybe we have an opportunity here for Heineken next to Grand Dutch Café.

The end result, as long as the captain does what the Braumeister wants.

We are sailing today in very deep water (approx. 20,000 ft.) as we have now fallen off the continental European shelf. Madeira is nothing but the top of the rim of a shield volcano located at the edge of the African Plate which pushes all the way up from the depth. Those who know everything about volcano’s, call it a Shield Volcano as the way the lava has flowed out from the crater resembles a nice round, slightly elevated platform, resembling a warriors shield. That was long time ago and since then the lava has eroded and is now very fertile soil which makes it possible that the 200000+ inhabitants have ample groceries and wine grapes available. Same goes for the abundance of flowers that you see while traveling around the island. I like the island and the scenic tour although I have never been able to master anything of the Portuguese language. Spanish is manageable but Portuguese seems to be the opposite of Dutch pronunciation and thus not easy. (Which does not mean that it might not be an easier language than Dutch)

The island is part of a group of three larger islands and some smaller ones which are part of Portugal since the early 15th. Century and form an autonomous region as part of the larger whole. As a result they speak Portuguese and also feel Portuguese.

The swell chart of today. Compared with yesterday the wave field dipped just under our course line. Giving a bit more moment than what we had hoped for. This is going to be pretty nasty tonight in the Bay of Biscay,

The Koningsdam will approach the port tomorrow morning at 06.00. Funchal is located at the south side of Madeira so by 0500 we should be out of most of the swell as we will come into the lee of the islands. Then it is a matter of waiting for the pilots to decide who goes in first so it all works out. The challenge is that they have built a beautiful new dock at the town side but it is very exposed to the ocean swell so it can most likely not be used tomorrow and the ships have to dock in line on the inside of the breakwater.

Weather for tomorrow: Partly Cloudy with temperatures of 20oC / 68oF with a gentle breeze from the North and a chance of showers before sunrise.



  1. Margaret Morris

    November 5, 2019 at 7:13 am

    From the safety of home when I read about the ship rockin and rollin in the swell, I find it quite scary, but when I’m on the ship I find it exhilarating. Reading about it and the technical things that the crew have to deal with really makes you think about things. Please keep these fabulous blogs coming, it makes things seem so real!!!!

  2. Elisabeth Hilaire

    November 5, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Love reading your blog, I learn so much from them. We are presentlycrossing on the Nieuw Statendam. Which ship are you on, can’t seem to find that information on uour blog.

  3. We have sailed on various cruises with HAL over the years including 2 GWV’s and have experienced some violent waters, but a trip many years ago aboard the ms Veendam coming up the coast of France and the Bay of Biscay definitely rates as the roughest we have ever experienced. It was very nasty and gives us bragging rites to have come through such a storm.

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