- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

06 March 2019; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California.

I have been coming to Cabo San Lucas since 1982 (First time was with the old Statendam IV) so I have seen it being transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a mega resort. From the occasional cruise ship calling to the row of ships now in port every day. And I have seen it in all the weather variations; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly days.  When I came to the bridge this morning it was overcast and the sea was a flat as a mirror, although it was a wavy mirror as there is always some swell running, but no wind at all. And that is a good start for Cabo San Lucas. As it means that during the day the sun will burn some of the clouds away but some will be left; and there will be some wind later in the day, caused by the warming up of the Mexican mainland, but it has to start from wind force zero and thus the wind will not get to a big momentum.

Although Cabo is sheltered from the West, the North and the East, the South East and South are fully open and that can bring bad weather into the Bay. And if the wind & swell are from a south easterly angle (e.g. running along the coast) than that swell runs straight into the bay, onto the beach, bounces back and mixes with the incoming swell. Very nasty for a safe operation at the tender platform.  I have cancelled Cabo in the past because of this and it is very hard to sell to the guests. They only see nice weather and cannot estimate the height of the swell and thus do not comprehend the challenge. I remember once coming into Cabo with the Maasdam, when this “bounce back” swell occurred, that I pumped out all four tender platforms and then called all the guests on deck, so they could see the swell running over the platforms. These platforms have open grills, to drain away the water but if the swell is caught under it, than it creates very impressive foam spouts when the water is pushed through the grating holes. A lot of guests took photos, no doubt to show at dinner parties about how rough Cabo can be.

Good old days. the ss Statendam IV. Seen here during her last season on Alaska. From there she went on her final Transcanal cruise, calling at Cabo San Lucas with  Yours Truly on board.

But today was a nice day with only a slight wobble / wave moment at the gangway. So everybody should have been happy. The ship arrives around 10.30 hrs. and thus guests had to make up their minds, about going at once that is just after breakfast, or after lunch. For the ship this works out quite well as you get a steady stream of guests going ashore without too many people waiting for tender tickets. But we were stuck with anchorage nbr 3. The Harbor master of Cabo had decided that we should go to 3 and so we went. And that meant a very long tender distance of a mile. A mile does not seem very long but including  stepping in the tender, sailing the distance, dodging lots of other traffic and getting out, it takes some time. The ship had arranged for 3 shore tenders as well so we had a continuous flow of tenders available but the distance remained the same.

Old Cabo San Lucas. I think this photo is from around 1979/1980 as they are just starting with some work. When we arrived in 1982 this flat area had an official (Flea) market place with pavement.

At the shore side they built a few years ago, a completely dedicated series of tender docks, of which we had two, the Norwegian Star had two and the Seven Seas Mariner had one. For the latter that worked fine as they were operating with two tenders sailing opposite so they only used one dock.  Our tender drivers had a difficult day today with all the water sports and other traffic coming in and out of the harbor. This resulted in a large number of what we call Kamikazes (a lot worse than six pack navigators) activities. Some of the boat operators give full power when they leave the dock, and do not change course anymore, not for anybody. I do not think that Mexico has any licensing regulations for small craft as I saw some hair-raising escapes. Our quartermasters are trained in taking evasive action, even when they have the right of way and the best evasive action is to slow down and stop (or change course to starboard when still a long distance away, but that is not always possible) and they slowed down a lot today. Safe and good but it added even more time to the journey.

The tender docks. Each ship has two tender berths available with each their own gangway to make security very happy. The blue boat alongside is one of the shore side Cabo tenders, which are  used to help with the tender service. Nearly every ship that visits uses them to supplement the ships tenders.

Still I am very glad I was there in the 80’s when there were only the fishermen, the flea market (with real fleas complementary with each purchase) and the Play Boy Hotel on the seaside of the hill. The hotel did not belong to Playboy but the magazine had declared the beach to be one of the 10 best in the world.  And I think they were right then and still would be as the beaches are still very nice. But instead of a romantic quiet walk along the beach, there is now Carlos and Charlie’s and that is certainly not quiet.

The ms Volendam hopes to sail at 17.00 hrs. and then our next port of call is: Puerto Chiapas near the southern border of Mexico, so we first have two days at sea to sail along the whole Mexican coast

5 Comments

  1. Hello Captain Albert. We attempted part of your current voyage that would have ended southerly in Puerto Vallarta last October on the Eurodam, but were sent back north to San Francisco due to two hurricanes brewing in the Pacific. Captain Scott did a great job rearranging our 11 days from Vancouver doing a northern diversion to SF, LA and Catalina Island and a small stop in Mexico and back to San Diego . My two questions today for you are: Do you know who will be our Captain on MS Rotterdam on April 14 – 29 from Tampa to Rotterdam, and may we keep our fingers crossed that you may transfer to this ship for the crossing? Thanks for your continued wonderful daily updates from around the world! Regards, Bruce

    • Captain Albert

      March 7, 2019 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      If nothing changes then your captain will be Captain Bas van Dreumel, he has a biography on my website under current captains.

      For me being on board the ms Rotterdam, no I do not think so as my schedule calls for visiting the ms Rotterdam in 2020, so I will
      be on another ship. But I hope you will enjoy your cruise, it is a great one, if you love sea days.

      Best Regards

      Capt. Albert

  2. Your description of Cabo brings back many memories. I fished there many years ago when there was little more than a simple village and a few…very few….fishing boats. The fishing was incredible.

    I have been back every few years and I am astounded at the changes……I liked it better the old way.

  3. Marie Touitou

    March 8, 2019 at 2:43 am

    In 1983 we flew to Cabo San Lucas in a Cessna. We’ve been back 3 times on cruises. Our photos show that the arch and the sea lions haven’t changed.

    • Captain Albert

      March 9, 2019 at 1:00 am

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Los Arcos and the sea lions did indeed not change, same for the seagull, they are still not liked by the ships and the yachts…………………. but the rest did. Beyond recognition.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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