- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

11 May 2013; Canadian Inside Passage.

 After all the nice weather in Alaska we had a windy and rainy day today in the Inside Passage. While sailing through Queen Charlotte Sound the wind breezed up to 35 knots and with it came the waves. Everything in line with the weather forecast, so we were not surprised and I was running the speed that was best for it. We kept the outside decks closed, mainly for the rainy spray that swirled along the ship and all was well in the world. Northbound we had the same weather, blowing from the north, now we had it again but blowing from the South. Adverse winds again. It is supposed to remain windy here for the coming days but from the same direction. That means that when we go north again, the day after tomorrow, it will be following winds. Pushing us in the right direction and making the weather less inclement on the ship. Every cloud can have a silver lining………………

I had hoped that that the clouds and rain would lift a little bit so we could do some sightseeing while going through the Inside Passage. When in the shade of the mountains on Vancouver Island, the wind normally abates somewhat and if there is no rain, you can see a few nice things. One of those things is Alert Bay, with its collection of totem poles. On the sea front there is a collection of poles that were rescued from the interior of British Columbia and farther over on the West side are a few high poles with one that is claimed to be the highest in the world. Last year there was a rumor that near Vancouver they were constructing an even higher one, news that was not well received in Alert Bay. If that ever came to pass I do not know. Anyway the low clouds made a sail by past Alert Bay not feasible so we stayed on the regular track and sailed via Blackney Pass.

As a result I also missed the chance to find out if our trumpeter was still afloat. Since a number of years we have had a speedboat scooting out of Alert Bay every time a cruise ship was passing by. In the beginning he was by himself which always resulted in comical effects as driving a speedboat and playing the trumpet at the same time does not really work. Then last year he had assigned a driver to take him out while he serenaded the ship. Even then it remained comical as the driver did not always adapt the speed of the boat or the way it hit the waves in such a way that it enhanced the performance. Standing in a wobbly boat trying to imitate Bill Gillespie does not work at all and our serenader then had to sit down quite abruptly. If you sit down –abruptly- while still playing, then everybody can hear that sound effect quite clearly over the water. Hopefully I will get the chance to find out in August when I will be back.

So we sailed the regular route with the regular bottle necks and strong areas of current. Blackney Pass at the end of Johnston strait, Race Passage in the middle of Johnston strait and Seymour Narrows itself at the beginning of Johnston strait, what we call Discovery Pass. You can see that the season is starting up; we had our first opposing cruise ship, the Zuiderdam going north. Sunday night there will be a whole parade, with the Statendam, Zaandam, Celebrity Century and the Norwegian Pearl going North at the same time. It will give the pilots a headache, as everybody will be lining up for the Seymour Narrows at the same time, to get the right sequence. It will all depend on which ship will depart first.

We are expecting approx. 1400 guests on board that is a full –full house for the Statendam, as there will be a lot of very junior Hal cruisers coming on board. Tomorrow we are in Vancouver. The weather will be better than today but still overcast with a chance of showers and temperatures in the low sixties. But who cares?? We had sunshine in Ketchikan and that stops all arguments about the weather.


  1. Missed Career at Sea

    May 12, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    It’s soon time to say “tot ziens” again, Captain. How my left hand wanted to do some walking over the keyboard! But, another battle surfaced as a consequence of colliding stresses of various kinds.
    You’ve made me a happy paddler again by using your skills as an educator to broaden the horizons of your readers. To cultivate appreciation for the unsung heroes making a complex operation on board a cruise ship run as smoothly as possiible. Your ‘half Indonesia’ is brightening up my Summer again with their light heartedness.
    Will you be back from your course in another 2 months?
    Hope I’ll be “bright and early” again by that time 🙂

  2. Looks like Jerry Higginson, the Alert Bay trumpeter, has upgraded to a new, no longer red, speedboat Capt. 😉


  3. Claude Gareau

    May 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Good day, Captain Albert,
    again, thanks for your guiding/coaching/entertaining blog.
    Are you off duty during THIS trip on 17th or only after disembarkation on 19th ?
    If I don’t catch you mid a.m. sunday, enjoy the SMC in …and ON SS Rotterdam.
    When do we have the pleasure of ”seeing” you on board again through your excellent narratives ?
    Have a good and well deserved vacation after the conference.

  4. John Drummond

    May 15, 2013 at 1:42 am

    I noticed on AIS that the Pearl went between Texada and Jedediah Islands on the way to Discovery Passage. Is this a common shortcut and if so why do not more ships use it?

    • Good morning,

      it is not so common. It is called Sabine Passage. It is three miles shorter but when going through you have a dead angle where you can not see opposing traffic. So the time you might think to save, could be lost by having to slow down.

      That is why most ships stay in the middle (Sisters)as you do not gain that much.

      thank you for reading my blog.

      Best regards

      Captain Albert

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