- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

08 July 2018; Kerkira, Corfu, Greece.

After a very windy departure the ship sailed north along the coast of the Peloponnesus towards the next island in the Ionian Sea, Kerkira. An island that is separated from the big island by a strait which is called the Steno Kerkiras. Kerkira lies on the east side of the island in the sort of curved bay. Thus a sheltered port except when the Etesian winds blow. Today they arrived late and they were not that strong at least when compared with yesterday. The port has a U shaped pier setup with the Left leg and the top part of the U being used by ferries and the outer leg by cruise ships. The docks were constructed sometime in the past and now most docks are either too short or “just fit” for the average size cruise ships of today. We were in port together with the Costa NeoReviera which was originally owned by the now defunct cruise company Festival Cruises.

The approach from the south. Corfu is also North to south located so the predominant wind blows straight down the Steno Kerkiras. the island acts as a funnel and things can become quite unhappy then. Today it was not too bad.

Because the U of the port is quite large there was a shuttle bus running from the port gate to both ships as we were docked all the way at the end of the U. although there is an airport, which sees over 2 ml. guests a year, mainly package holiday tourists, a large number of locals and visitors use the local ferry system to get to the other side or to the other islands. Hence the plethora of ferries, large and small, in the port. Transport with these ferries is fairly cheap and once you have figured out the Greek system of announcing/posting the various routes, and where on the dock the ferry is parked (which sometimes involves quite a lot of asking) you can travel all over Greece with their ferry system, including the islands far off the beaten track.

The ferry part of Kerkira. The 2nd boat on the right is one of the “fast cigars” or hydrofoils. This is a quiet moment as some ferries had already left for their day crossing to somewhere else.

Of all that floats as a ferry, what stands out most among them are the Russian Hydrofoils or “fast cigars” as I heard somebody calling them. For a while they were made in large numbers in Russia and were exported to countries close to the USSR. The Greeks seemed to have liked them a lot for the pure pedestrian traffic as there is no space for anything on board but hand bags and suitcases. They never came much further west than Greece but since some time we have had a few in the Netherlands where they run a Water Taxi system to Rotterdam Central for commuters. They are/were quite popular by those using them but not so much by those around as the wake produced would make the boats and yachts laid up along the route wobble considerably. The plan was to replace them with “less wobbly” options so they might be gone again. But there in Greece they are still everywhere to be seen.

300 days at sea. Not bad for a dog. Many a regular cruiser does not get that high in the HAL Mariner Society.

For those who cruise, know that every ship has a “Wall of Fame” where First Port Call plaques are put on display. Some are a bit naff but some are almost pieces or art and very nice to look at. The Oosterdam has a very usual one; one to commemorate a blind dog who in 2017 reached  300 days with Holland America. And counting as I recently met dog Joska (and the owners attached to it) on the ms Rotterdam in April 2018. Guide and Service Dogs are held in high esteem by us and most Captains recognize them with also issuing a medal for the dog.

The good old days. Captain Leo van Lanschot Hubrecht, Hotel Manager J.J Scheringa, dog and owner, elevated to Grand Mariner. This was before we went to medals with 100, 300, 500 and 700 days.

My records show that (most likely) the first medal/certificate issued to a blind dog was in 1992 on board the ss Rotterdam by Captain Leo van Lanschot Hubrecht. I have kept that tradition going on my ships and as most current captains have sailed with me one time or the other in the past before they became captain, they are now also continuing that tradition. But it is the first time that a HAL ship was offered a Plate to commemorate this event.

We sail from here to Kotor in Montenegro and that brings us back to the Central European Time Zone and thus tonight we go one hour back. Good planning as the sailing into Kotor is very scenic with a very narrow passage before entering a fjord or lake and then nearing the old town of Kotor which lies at the end, partly on the flat, partly against the hill. So guests can have a good nights rest and be up and about early to see the scenery.

Weather for tomorrow: 27oC / 81oF mostly overcast with a chance of showers.


  1. Hi Kaptein; back in August 2006 after departing Amsterdam on Prinsendam for the IJmuiden locks on the Noordzee Kanaal, a company called Connexxion (same as the private bus system in Holland, I’m pretty sure) was running at least two Voskhod hydrofoil “fast cigars” between Amsterdam-Centraal, Velsen and IJmuiden port. They were painted in the same two-tone green/blue color as the buses. The one that passed us at speed heading for Mokum was named “Rosanna” and had the number 2015247 on her stern underneath the port of registration ‘Amsterdam’. Safe journeys to you!

  2. Congratulations to Joska for notching up 300 days. A worthy recipient.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *