Poor people today at least that is what I think. It was supposed to be in the high seventies. But when we arrived it was flat calm at the anchorage. The Eurodam and Noordam were floating on a mirror like sea which only moved gently on a very low residual swell from the winds of last few days. The sky was partly cloudy but much more sunny than cloudy. No wind, full sun, reflection from the white beach and the crystal clear sea……….. It was hot today. I suppose that is what you want from a beach call but directly coming from a relative cool Florida it was a bit of a shock. To make people realize this, the Cruise Director announced the more than beautiful weather; to use plenty sun block and to drink a lot of water. Hence the BLD steward at the gangway was doing a roaring trade in small size water bottles.
With the Eurodam at anchor the Noordam stayed on the engines. The day before yesterday we did so because of the wrong wind direction and today because the Eurodam had the better anchorage, it being the more frequent caller. There is a 2nd anchorage as well but it gives even less space to range out the anchor and the chain than the premier anchorage and thus it is much easier just to remain drifting with the occasional adjustment when the ship got moved by the current. As the wind had died down completely the current had also reduced in velocity and the ship did not drift that much at all. A quiet and easy day for the navigators.
With two ships in port, the tender service is a lot more hectic. Two days ago our ship was serviced completely by the two shore tenders. Now we had to share them with the Eurodam and that meant we had our own ships tenders running as well. A lot of extra traffic in the port of Half Moon Cay, requiring a lot of vigilance from the two security officers on the shore side. Apart from this there was the challenge of ensuring that the correct people went back to the correct –Dam- ship. That sounds easier than it is, as we have guests on board who after several days still do not know on which ship they are on and will happy stand in the wrong line, going to the wrong tender.
While this all was going on, I took my class through the mysteries of Fire Safety both passive and active. A cruise ship has an enormous amount of safety protective items on board, and in use, and a deck officer has to be familiar with all of them. Not an easy task and a task which takes a considerable time to complete. It helps if there is a structured approach to this challenge, starting with a bit of history about the why this was added and why that became important and then eventually all the pieces of the puzzle come together and a complete picture arises.
Going back to the 1930’s; passenger ships did not have very much protection in the accommodation. Inside everything was made of wood and everybody relied on the vigilance of somebody to catch a fire on time and to attack it quickly with an extinguisher and a fire hose. Then the sprinkler came along. Every cabin and other area suddenly had these little shower heads in the ceiling and each shower head contained a glass bulb. If the temperature was going too high, the bulb would break, pressured water would come out as a shower and it would extinguish the fire. Wonderful system.
Then science came along, a company called Marioff figured out that if you make water droplets as fine as mist, it increases the cooling & extinguishing capabilities multi-fold and a new system came on the market called Hi-Fog. It can extinguish with a 500 litres (or less) the same fire which a conventional sprinkler system needs to do with 5000 litres. That gives a lot less damage. Thus now all new cruise ships are being built with a Hi-Fog installation and the older ships are being retrofitted. The Vista class, which includes the Noordam, was the first class of HAL ships which were completely protected by Hi-Fog. Something so important that it merited at least a half a day of teaching to ensure that the principles, advantages and ways of operating the system are fully known.
We left Half Moon Cay nicely on time. It was not that hard to get everybody back on board timely as most guests longed for some cool A.C. after a few hours on the beach. Now we will sail along the top rim of the Bahamian Islands until we arrive tomorrow at noon time at Grand Turk Island for an afternoon call, for more beach visits should one so desire to do so.
Weather Forecast: More of the same.