- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

18 December 2018; Crossing the North Atlantic, Day 8 and Final Day.

Thus today we have the final day of our crossing and also the final day of our cruise. They say that all good things must come to an end unfortunately, and thus also this cruise. I think it has been a good cruise as the weather was very good for a December crossing and the guests all look happy and the comments are positive. So we can say without doubt that the Nieuw Statendam will be an appreciated new member of the Holland America family for many years to come.

The last remnants of the frontal system of yesterday passed by through the night and today we had a regular nice sea day with partly cloudy skies and pleasant temperatures. The storm chart only gives flat seas; the rain chart does not give any rain at all, except for the system we have already passed. Also Fort Lauderdale is promising to be a dry day. With 25oC / or 73oF. and very little wind.

The Radar chart with the cloudiness in the area. There are some rain clouds far away but they should only reach Fort Lauderdale after the ship has departed.

This evening at about 18.00 hrs. we will enter the Bahamian chain of islands and then sail through the North West Providence Channel towards Fort Lauderdale. For that we have to cross the Straits of Florida. As Fort Lauderdale and its port, Port Everglades, lies a little bit south of where we come out of the Bahama Banks, we have a South Westerly course to aim for. That course will become more and more south westerly as we have to compensate for the Gulf Stream which is pushing north. The Gulf Stream is our friend and sometimes our enemy. Depending if we sail with the current or against the current.

Now we are dealing with the current under an angle, so the navigator only has to figure out the right course to compensate for the drift. The second interest is to find out where the axis of the Gulf Stream is located,  there where the current is at its maximum velocity. This is called the Gulf Stream axis and if you can find it then you will get the benefit of the “big push” when sailing in the same direction. If you go opposite then knowing the location helps you with devising a course as far from it as possible. The NOAA normally publishes a 3 day update as the Gulf Stream moves on occasion in the Straits and that can really be from all the way up the Florida beaches to all the way against the Grand Bahama Bank. And nobody really knows when it moves and why it moves. If some clever clog would be able to figure it out, then we would be able to get much more accurate data than we have now.

So crossing the Gulf Stream is basically a task of keeping an eye on the ships position and the “set” of the ship to the north and compensate for it accordingly. Normally we are out of the Gulf Stream influence when we are about a mile away from the Port Everglades Sea buoy but I have seen it that the current ran full force just outside the breakwaters and that we went into the port under a considerable drift angle. So much that even the local pilot got nervous.  The simplest solution is then to go in a bit faster as that reduces the drift angle. Once inside the breakwater there is more than enough distance to slow down again. The harbor master likes 10 knots in the channel, but if the current or wind is strong, the ship will go a lot faster to reduce the drift angle.

For the purpose of sailing under an angle and remaining in the middle of the fairway, they have installed a set of leading lights to help. The only challenge is they sometimes have parked a tanker in front of it and then the lower light is obscured. When the light was put in, the tankers were not as wide as they can be nowadays. We will be lining up in those leading lights tomorrow around 03.40, a few minutes after we have boarded the pilot. From there it is only a short hop to the dock as the captain has decided to go alongside starboard side, nose in, at Pier 26 and thus we do not have to swing on arrival. Once alongside that whole circus will start which I described a few days ago. I will be helping out to make that all go smoothly by getting off the ship ASAP and thus ensuring that the zero count does not get delayed.

And that brings me to an end of my blogging period on board the ms Nieuw Statendam. I hope you have enjoyed my daily musings about the progress of the ship towards its completion and the first two cruises which proved that the ship is a great success and a genuine asset to the company.

In January my blog will be relocated to a new server. This should not affect anybody at all but in case there is a hiccup you might have to refresh your automatic link to the blog. My first ship in 2019 will be the Zuiderdam which is on the schedule for Feb. 10. and that is also the date that my blog will recommence.

Thank you for your interest and support and Happy Holidays.

This is the magical piece of Christmas nostalgia which the Pastry Department on board has created. This is only part of the whole display. It is about double the size, including two trains. Setup outside the Grand Dutch Café for all to admire.

 

21 Comments

  1. Captain, thank you for many weeks of reading pleasure. I really enjoyed it. For you and Lesley nice Christmas days and a good and healthy 2019. We will meet in January on the ss Rotterdam.

  2. Captain Albert, it was a pleasure to sail these past 2 weeks with you.
    Happy Holidays and safe travels home.
    Hope to meet you agsin on another DAM ship

  3. Natasha van Bentum

    December 18, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    We’ve enjoyed your recent “musings” Captain Albert, especially when the ship was in its last few weeks of preparation in Italy, and look forward to your return to blogging in February. All the best for a happy and healthy 2019 from Natasha and Henri

  4. Captain, this has been such a great experience going along with you for the new build and delivery of Nieuw Statendam. If I may call each time you are onboard a series, this would be in the top 5 and I’ve been following you for a long, long time.:) I’ll be on the Oosterdam on March 30. Merry Christmas to you and your Lord and Master, Leslie. Thank you for your time blogging. Peace, Michael

  5. Howdy!
    You were spot on re the info you provided me re the Konigsdam. The Sel de Mar was wonderful and so was the Tamarin. Music walk was delightful. And my group of 85 were outstanding guests.
    Now I am ready for a cruise on the Nieuw Statendam! Looks like she is off to z great beginning.
    Your updates from

  6. Howdy!
    You were spot on re the info you provided me re the Konigsdam. The Sel de Mar was wonderful and so was the Tamarin. Music walk was delightful. And my group of 85 were outstanding guests.
    Now I am ready for a cruise on the Nieuw Statendam! Looks like she is off to a great beginning.
    Your daily updates from Italy during the construction were so interesting.
    Enjoy your time off, well deserved. Merry Christmas and all the best in 2019!

  7. Have a Merry and joyous Christmas.

  8. Enjoy your holidays and honey do’s

    Tom

  9. I’ve enjoyed every mile of your crossing. Thank you for sharing it. Happy Holidays to you and those you love.

  10. Fascinating as always. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts in such a comprehensible way for those of us not “schooled” in mariner jargon/etc. I feel like I have a better understanding of “how ships work.” Looking forward to my next HAL adventure in Mar/Apr on the Eurodam (bucket-list trip to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Marquesas).

  11. Rosemarie Engler

    December 18, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Thank you Captain Albert for all your recent blogs from the Nieuw Statendam .
    I enjoyed each one and now will miss your blogs until they commerce on Feb. 10. It was fun following along.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and also best wishes for a good start in the New Year 2019. Rosemarie

  12. MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

    I really appreciate your blog!

    David

  13. It was a pleasure meeting you and sailing with you on the premiere cruise. We are totally thrilled with the ship and will look forward to sailing on her again.

  14. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your sense of humor as we watched the final stages of the new build and ms Nieuw Statendam’s first voyages. I wish you a happy homecoming and Happy Holidays. Will look forward to February when you resume posting your blog.

  15. And thank you too.
    Fascinating.
    Enjoy Christmas.
    Kind regards,
    John Harker

  16. G. E. "Robbie" Robinson

    December 19, 2018 at 1:27 am

    I always enjoy reading your blogs and especially this time with a new ship, in the yard and on the sea. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and your wife. Look forward to Feb for the start of your next blog series.

  17. Robina Herrington

    December 19, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Thankyou for another wonderful, interesting
    Set of blogs. They really make my day, I miss them when you are not on board.
    I wish you a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year in 2019. Safe journey home tomorrow
    Thank you again best wishes Robina

  18. Thank you very much for all your posts. Have really enjoyed reading them & the pictures you included. I got up too late to watch the sail in. Safe travels home, Merry Christmas & a very Happy New Year.

  19. Thank you so much for your blog, I look forward to catching up again in Feb.

  20. Safe travels home to jolly ol’ England, Kaptein, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your wife

  21. Captain Albert , thank you very much for your blog in Venice while the ship was being finished it hightened our excitement coming on board on the Premier Voyage . It was also a great pleasure to meet you on the Nieuw Statendam and chatting with you a couple of times near the Grand Dutch Cafe . We also absolutely loved the talks that you gave on the Main Stage about the history of cruising and even better yet the hour and a half talk about the history of Holland America . I hope I will be able to find the book that you co wrote about this subject . The standing avation after the talk was well deserved , we loved it ! We will be on the Prinsendam next year April 18th when HAL celebrates its 145th !

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