- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

20 Feb. 2018; At Sea.

Today is the first sea day while we sail from Half Moon Cay to Oranjestad, Aruba. During the night the ship sailed between the remaining islands of the Bahamas and then crossed the Old Bahama Channel to dive into the Windward Passage. We had Cuba with Cabo Maisi on our starboard side and then slowly worked our way down following the coast of Haiti. Because there is a lot of wind again, much more than predicated, the skies are very clear and clean and thus we have a good view towards the mountain ranges of Haiti. The only thing that is keeping “a great view” back is the fact that the sun has not completely come around to the southwest yet, so there is some glare left. If we would have been here around 16.00 hrs. with the sun still shining brightly from the west and with the same clear skies, the view would have been truly impressive with the emerald green mountain ranges rolling away from the beaches.  What we can see very well is the ocean floor. For a major stretch we are passing through an area where the depth is no more than 20 meters and with the crystal clear water here, the white sand is clearly visible. Sometimes there are even shoals of dark silvery fish visible. Hence the numerous fishing boats in the area. Still very traditional in the form of canoe’s with a single triangle sail.   They normally fish on the 10 meter line, where colder water from the deep meets the surface water warmed up by the sun. That is an area where there are a lot of nutrients for all sorts of fish and thus is it a good place to be for fishermen.

My good place to be today was inside the ship. I am conducting a sort of Marathon training programs with refresher courses for all the crew to get them geared for a corporate audit that is coming. I do not have to train them what to do, as most of our crew is experienced and know their duties. It is more to get them ready to give answers. Many crew members tend to seize up when confronted with auditors in any form or shape. USCG, Lloyd’s, ISO verification etc. etc. We have a lot of them and often the crew is afraid to just show their knowledge. That is where I step in. A captain in front of the class room who assures and motivates the crew does wonders and already quite a few auditors have been on the receiving end of a self-confident and fully charged up Shop lady or Bar tender. And that is what auditors like to see confident and outspoken team leaders. Our crew has it all; I just help with convincing them to use their skills and talents in that area.

My challenge was that I was kicked out of my favorite training room. Normally I have a public room for the larger groups and use the smaller ships training room for the smaller groups. But this cruise we have a number of groups on board who are occupying (& blocking) all the meeting rooms. This cruise we have a large number of bridge players on board, numbers we normally only see during long voyages but our biggest room has been taken over by quilters. Long lines of sowing machines have arrived on board and regiments of eager quilters are beavering away and churning out master piece after master piece. Thus I have split up the my training groups so they can be accommodated in the training room.

Cookies and refreshments are important during a concentrated day of quilting. This photo was taken just after lunch and not all Ladies and Gents (quilting is not limited to the female department only) had returned.

We have quite often these special groups on board. Sometimes they are smaller groups such as this quilting group, sometimes they are larger and sometimes it is a whole ship charter. Because we have these meeting rooms, we can reserve one for them and lock the door when nothing is going on and it does not bother any of the other guests on board.

Tonight and tomorrow morning we will cross the Caribbean Sea and we are all wondering what the wind will be like as it is at the moment not following the weather forecast. For the guests it does not make much of a difference. The sun is shining it is just a little windy on the portside of the ship, but we have the starboard as well and a lot of area’s shielded by windscreens and super structure. In the meantime we are aiming for 13.00 pilot station in Oranjestad Aruba. It will be a busy day with 4 regular cruise ships in and the Freewinds.

3 Comments

  1. Capt. a question please? Who makes the decision to use the line gun for a particular arrival instead of the trusted “tossing with strong arm method?” Bosun? Mooring Deck officer? Sailor? And who is the “designated gun shooter?” The gun seems to be used on a somewhat regular basis in Juneau, AK at the new piers. Thanks a lot in advance and take care!

    • Hallo Copper,

      The decision is made by the Captain and Staff Captain on the bridge after a review if it is needed or not. Longeshoremen do not particularly like it so it is only used if wind and current might make it difficult to get close enough. The shooter is normally an experienced sailor supervised by the bo’sun and the officer in charge. The new dock in Juneau is a bit particular as there can be a strong current bouncing of the shore side and push the ship quite quickly away from the dock. And as Murphy will ensure that a sailor will miss with “throw by hand method” the moment it is least appreciated, so the air gun is being brought out.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert.

  2. Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to explain, Kaptein! 🙂

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