- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

14 December 2019; At Sea.

Final day of the cruise. Sailing with glorious Caribbean weather towards Ft/ Lauderdale. The nice thing about it is, that it is warm but not hot. Thus the guests have a hard time deciding what to do. Sit and absorb the last sun rays before they return to snow and ice, or run around the ship and try to catch all that is going on. I got caught in the jewelry raffle this morning while doing a shop inspection and free lottery tickets had to be returned before being eligible for a prize. Somewhere the idea had come up with some guests that the tickets had to be returned as early as possible and hence a large line of Ladies were already waiting at the Promo Shop. As I am in a guest cabin I receive those free raffle tickets as well and I am always tempted to put them in, just to see what will happen. I am on the crew list as I work for the company but I am also a passenger/guest because the CBP says so as I have a visa. I am crew for training but I am a guest for my lifeboat station. So every time I see these tickets  coming by, I always wonder, how would the Shop Manager treat me if I would pop up to claim my prize.

The Gulf Stream

As mentioned yesterday the Gulf Stream is rushing past Cozumel and when the ship leaves the dock it gets at once caught in the current of up to 4 knots. That current does not remain 4 knots all the time. As soon as the ship clears Cozumel Island it goes down to about 1.5 to 2 knots as the water has room to spread. Still most water stays in the axis, or center of the flow, and that is where we try to have the ship sail. Then closer to Cuba, the Captain has to make the decision to stay in the axis and catch as much current as possible or cut the corner and follow the Cuban coast near the West Point of Cabo San Antonio. Whatever he thinks that will gain the most as by Cuba there is a bit of current that helps as well. Although not as much as on the Mexican side.

That is a bit of a gamble as some of the Gulf Stream current is branching off here into the Gulf of Mexico. How much is hard to assess and thus you do not know if you get extra current (because the available water space is getting smaller again) or that you even loose some more as more water flows into the Gulf. Thus most ships including the Nieuw Statendam, sail by the Cuban Coast and then once clear try to get back into the axis of the Gulf Stream. And there it then tries to stay all the way to Fort Lauderdale. If the navigators are on the ball (and a bit lucky as the Axis cannot be predicted for a 100%) then sailing with the Axis can save a considerable amount of fuel, courtesy of the free mileage given to the ship by the Gulf Stream push. If I have make a rough calculation off the top of my head: we have received at least 48 miles of free speed and that translates in saving 15 tons and that translates in roughly 6,000 dollars.  Now you will also understand why captains like a loop around Cuba, going westwards as you have, for the majority of the time, wind and current with you.

The Gulf Stream in Temperature infra red view. As you can see some of the current goes into the Gulf of Mexico, but we  never know how much and we also never know how much will come back.

GULF STREAM HAZARDS

 The approximate location of the west wall of the Gulf Stream as of

              Dec 14, 2019 at 1200 UTC…

   7 nautical miles east northeast of Fowey Rocks.

 16 nautical miles east northeast of Port Everglades.

 12 nautical miles east southeast of Lake Worth.

 16 nautical miles east southeast of Jupiter Inlet.

 This data courtesy of the Naval Oceanographic Office.

This is the forecast of NOAA for the Gulf stream and it looks as if the Gulf Stream is a bit to the East at the moment and thus the ship will have to leave the Gulf Stream near Miami and aim for the Pt. Everglades Sea buoy. The ship will do that under an angle as going 90 degrees will only cost more fuel as the current will keep pushing to the North and then you have to buck against it to remain in line with the pilot station.

This will be my last blog for a while. Tomorrow I will be flying home from Miami, as KLM now has a direct flight going from there, with an early Monday morning connection from Amsterdam to England.

I hope that you have enjoyed my daily musings for the last 10 weeks and might have even found it educational at times. (However who can beat Wikipedia?????)

Famous last words………. if nothing changes………: I will be back on the blog on February 01, when I will visit A Seabourn ship, followed by 2 HAL ships.

(See my schedule on the blog)

‘I have a few Captain’s biographies in the pipe line, including one who got torpedoed in 1941, and they should appear in the history section after the Holidays. First I have to get home as I have already been told off by my wife that I forgot to get the box with Christmas Crackers out of the loft.

Wishing everybody a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Healthy New Year.

This is the Christmas tree on the bridge. A problem for the navigators is that they cannot switch it on at night as it would affect their night vision.

3 Comments

  1. Robina Herrington

    December 14, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful Blogs, I always get them late evening and
    Really enjoy them as bed time reading,
    I wish you a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year
    With best wishes
    From Robina 🍾🥂

  2. Thank you for your blogs! I enjoy reading them on a daily basis! Enjoy your vacation!

  3. Captain, here we are at the end of another year together. 🙂 I continue to enjoying your writings and I appreciate you sharing with us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Leslie.

    Thanks, Michael

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