It was a miserable sunrise with strong winds and heavy rain squalls. The good part was that the wind was a following wind and thus it remained nearly wind still on the decks but the rain poured down until after 10 am. Then it cleared and remained dry and even sunny for the remainder of the day. As the wind here is consistently from the North East, unless a cold front upsets the patterns, it means that the swell is from the same direction and keeps getting stronger the longer the wind blows. What is unpleasant for us was that swell was hitting us just on the sb. quarter and then you get that corkscrew motion which a stabilizer cannot really control. So while the ship was steady most of the time, occasionally it listed a bit. Still on a very slow roll and everybody saw and felt it coming. This lasted for the afternoon and then the ship finally came in the lee of Colombia sailing over the Colombian basin, 6000 feet below. By evening I am expecting some more showers and what we will get in the Panama Canal is anybody’s guess. We did receive our tentative transit times for tomorrow. I guessed right; they wanted us early and I was right on the dot with the time, 0500 at the sea buoy, 0515 in the breakwaters to meet the pilot and the boarding authorities. From there we will follow the convoy as usual.
In the mean time our inspection continues. Today it was doors testing day; test all firescreendoors and all watertight doors and inspect the shell doors. We have over 200 Fire screen doors on board in various sizes and they are all located in firetight bulkheads which sub divide the ship in 7 sections or zones. If all the doors in one bulkhead are closed then two sections are completely separated from the other. Close the fire dampers and the fire cannot move through the ventilation trunks and has to remain where it is. Under the bulkhead deck, which is deck 3 or B deck on this ship, the Fire screen doors are combined into the Watertight doors. What can stop the water, can also stop the fire. Watertight doors are much thicker than fire screen doors as they also have to withstand the pressure of the water if it would ingress the ship. Again very important parts of the safety of the ship. Also very disconcerting for the guests if they are closed. That corridor that you have been going through for the last 5 days is suddenly not there anymore. Thus we train our traffic control/ stairway guides especially for this situation. Guiding the people the other way, so that they do not have to open that closed door and do not have to come closer to the dangerous situation that might be behind that door.
The same goes for the crew with water tight doors in their living area. Those should not be opened under any circumstance and they do not need to, because there is always a staircase going up between each two doors. The ship has been designed that way, so are all ships and that will ensure that the integrity of the watertight compartments will not be breached. All this work puts an extra burden on all the deck officers, as their regular routines have to continue as well. Still we are trying to do as much as possible to day because tomorrow the whole deck team is on standby for the canal transit. Then the inspectors will focus on technical work, for the engineers the routine of watch keeping remains the same.
Tomorrow is our Panama Canal transit again and we are hoping for good weather, or at least dry weather when we are in the locks. If it is overcast I do not mind as that will only give less sunburn. Rain, even when warm, is another story.