At the moment we are back to the regular weather for this area. North Easterly wind, force four to five with the occasional shower. As is the standard routine we try to hit the showers during the night time, to help the chief officer with getting the salt off the deck but we are trying to avoid the rain during the daytime so the guests do not get wet. Most showers in this area are well defined and isolated from each other and thus avoiding it normally works unless you have a whole string or curtain of rain showers coming over and then you get wet, whatever you try.
On board we now have an extra busy period as we are going through our yearly passport renewal for the ship. This is not called a passport but a Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (PSSC). This is issued by the Dutch Government and promises to all concerned that the ship is safe in all respects for operation anywhere it might want to go. That piece of paper is of course not just handed out; first a 5 day inspection takes place. That is being done by the Lloyds Inspectors. The Netherlands government recognizes Lloyds as a reliable institution that has the knowhow of doing these inspections to a sufficiently high standard. Lloyds of London is of course the large ships insurance company, although nowadays they insure anything and a Lloyds stamp on the paperwork also grantees that no insurance company will have any problems with insuring a ship or those on board. Lloyds Register it a separate organization from this insurance business but they all come forth from the same beginnings; Lloyds coffee house in London, where the latest shipping news came in, in the mid 18th century and where the first insurance arrangements were made for the ships. As there were always unscrupulous ship owners, who sent ships to sea overloaded and if it would sink try to cash in the insurance premium. The people at Lloyds then came up with the idea to start inspecting ships and only insure those who were approved. Also there was around that time the British Member of Parliament Samuel Plimsoll who introduced legislation to install load line signs, which would indicate how deep a ship was allowed to be loaded. Although not the inventor, the load line mark, the Plimsoll mark still carries his name. These sorts of regulations and inspections made shipping much safer through the years and Lloyds Register is one of the organizations who inspect the ships to renew the certificates. Lloyds is an English organization, there is also Germanischer Lloyd, Bureau Veritas , Rina, ABS and a few others, who all do similar work. Holland America has always worked with Lloyds. As a matter of fact the first foreign branch of Lloyds was in the Netherlands, in Veendam, to insure and regulate all the Baltic sailing traffic from the Netherlands.
So in the coming days, the two inspectors will go through the whole ship and see if everything is working properly, if everything is maintained properly, if the crew are well trained in their jobs and if the safety standards are high enough to comply with regulation. We will do boat drills and fire drills for them to witness, run the emergency Generator, start and stop emergency pumps and anything else that is there and needed in a case of an emergency. At the end of the five day inspection we will receive that PSSC. That will keep all the deck and engineering officers happily buzzing until Puerto Caldera. Tomorrow we will have a second day at sea before we come to our first port of call Oranjestad Aruba. We will experience the regular Caribbean weather; wind still under the coast of Haiti and then the normal strong trade winds blowing while we traverse the middle part of the Caribbean sea.