- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

22 April 2013; Corinto, Nicaragua.

Arrival in Corinto always worries me. And that is due to the long swell that can run into the port entrance. The closer we come the shallower the water gets and the more swell can build up. If the swell is in line with the approach course of 077o then it will catch the ship under the stern, making it very difficult to steer.  If the swell it too high, then there might not be enough water under the keel and the ship could touch bottom. So it is always with a certain trepidation that I go here. This morning there was a considerable swell running, but it was under an angle to the course line. That meant that the ship would be swaying to either side of the course line a bit but not to the extent that it would endanger a safe entry. And so we sailed in, swinging on arrival and were happily docked at 0900 hrs in the cargo port of Corinto. Swinging on arrival was preferred today, as we were coming in with the following flood and it makes life a lot easier to dock with the nose into the current than with the stern. Plus the flood helped with pushing the stern around during the swing and some free thruster power is always appreciated.  There was a gentle breeze blowing today and that meant that it was not so hot as it can be.

blog school

The Ruben Dario Elementary school. It now has been completely painted. The curtains need some attention, as the ones we delivered were a bit short.

My interest today was in our school of course. The one we have been sponsoring for the last two calls, and to which a lot of my dear blog readers have contributed to in the past period. Last time we painted and left a lot of material behind, including corrugated roof paneling for the parents to follow up upon. So I decided that before we would continue to offer help, lets first see if they did something themselves, and if so what is needed next.


blog painted walls

Also all the inner walls have been given a white coat of paint.

In Willemstad, Curacao, I had spent $ 800 on school supplies (I still had $ 1200 in the kitty from previous donations, so I am down to $ 400, — now) and those supplies were taken off  by the 40 school children that came on board for lunch.  So while they came on board, I went the other away, to the school.

It looked good. They had painted the whole school, and had installed the roof, also hung the curtains and they have been repairing their own basketball hoops.


We had donated two ourselves (movable ones) and now they are using those for training and the original ones for the games.  Enough reason to continue the project. What is needed now most is some more hardware for the buildings.  So that is the challenge to work on during this summer season as we will be back in Corinto in October.

The wish list of the school’s Principal:

1.    Volley ball poles and net. (Steel pole 3 inches wide with eyes) Will be made on board.

2.       Inside roof covering – $ 3.50 a sheet   sqm’s to be advised.

3.       10 big ceiling fans

4.       More curtains and 6 inches longer.

5.        One – 8 feet long dry eraser board

6.       Small chairs. (As reported before, I have a sample on board, still trying to find a supplier)

7.       1 x filing cabinet with 4 drawers (filing records is also a challenge)


blog marching

The school class escorted on board  by the Club Hal Ladies.

Back on board the children of level 4 of the Ruben Dario Elementary school had the time of their lives. First play time in Club HAL then followed by a lunch in the Canaletto Restaurant. The high light was the serving of the ice cream and to my utter amazement a visit to the toilets.




blog food

What makes every child happy; French fries and ketchup.

We do not think about it but these kids have never seen a vacuum toilet in their whole life; so pushing the button and seeing the water being sucked away was of great interest. It was amazing to see how many kids fitted in one toilet cubicle and getting all excited about pressing the button. The vacuum pumps in the engine room must have been running on top capacity to keep up with the demand.   They left the ship at 1 pm. happily wearing their CLUB HAL backpacks and carrying the school supplies back to school.


I will be back on the Statendam in August, so then I can set the gears fully in motion. In the meantime the search is on for the little chairs that they want in the class rooms.  I will need a lot of support to pull this step off and I am not looking forward to the battle with customs. But I might be able to circumvent that by buying most items locally.


We sailed just before 5 pm. and it was slack tide that meant whatever we had to face going out was not “enhanced” by the tides.  The inner harbor was nice and quiet but the moment we passed the end of the island on our portside (with the statue of the national Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario on its pedestal) the ocean swell came rolling in. However now we had the bow into the waves and that made the ship sway much less around the intended course line.  There was more swell than in the morning and that was a reason to be grateful, because if we would have had this swell in the morning (approx. 15 feet) then the children of Corinto might have missed their lunch.


  1. Kudos to you and the Sdam staff and crew for helping at the school. Based on your list, it looks like you are now looking for monetary donations rather than school supplies – is that correct? If you still need the supplies please list them when you can, although I think I would send a check this time as I could also include the amount I spent on postage. Also suggest you provide the address to which we can send things again.

  2. Captain Albert:
    Great to read your report on the school in Puerto Corinto, and smart of you to go our and check to see what they have done with the previous resources provided. You sounded like you were happy with their progress, so I’m with you.

    I will be happy to support that effort again, but a bit closer to the time you go back there. I learned the lesson from last year: Provide money rather than supplies to get around the customs issues. Send check to HAL office in Seattle right ??

    Good Luck…..Ruud Hartog in Tierra Verde Florida

  3. Hello Captain Albert,
    We thoroughly enjoy your blog. My husband and I meet you on the Noordam ,
    April 1995. At that time you were the Chief Officer.

    Regarding the school chairs,I found this site .


    Regards,Wendy Smith ,West Vancouver BC

  4. Captain,
    I’m so happy to hear that there has been such splendid cooperation from the parents and staff at the Corinto school. A couple of comments:

    First, when we left the Statendam last December, after the South Pacific trip when we could not visit Fanning Island, those donated items for that school were still aboard, I think.. A Statendam crew member that we are in regular contact with indicated that the next anticipated visit to Fanning Island (while you were on leave) didn’t happen either. If those school items are still traveling the world with the ship, can they be donated to Corinto?

    Second, my husband and I have booked the South American cruise on the Statendam starting in November. Corinto is on that itinerary too, and I’m hoping very much that you will be on the Statendam for that voyage. While I know you cannot use passenger assistance onsite at the school we’ll be part of your support team in any way you can use us.

    Finally, a colleague of mine is here in Los Angeles, on sabbatical from her regular social service job in the Leon area of Nicaragua. I will ask her advice about the chairs; she is in an administrative position that does involve schools and so she may be able to help with some information about a possible local purchase. I’ll get back to you about what she can suggest, if anything.

    Our best to you and your wife,
    Marney and George Wilde

    • Thank you for your kind remarks.

      The items for Fanning Island were donated in the end in San diego, as we also missed the 2nd call at Fanning Island. According to my collegue the weather was even worse than during my call. We had so much material that we could not store it on board any longer as it became a fire hazard. I will blog about the donation in the future. I was not there, so I have to find out what they did exactly .

      Yes I will be on board for that cruise.

      Thank you for you offered help. Another dear reader has given me a link for a school chair manufacturer and I am corresponding with them. Problem is that Canadian toddlers are bigger than Nicaraguan toddlers and as a result the chair legs are longer.
      As soon as I hear something, It will be on the blog.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  5. Rita Senn-Sikorski

    March 6, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I would like to donate to your purchase I’d school supplies for Corinto elementary schools. . Where can I send a check?

    • Captain Albert

      March 6, 2020 at 6:07 pm

      Thank you for your offer,
      but there is little I can do anymore, I will only visit Corinto one more time, and at the moment the school it closed. Normally we would arrange to cash the cheque with the purser and then I would go shopping, for whatever they needed and then take it to them, the next visit, as I never hand over money. But at the moment the school is closed and everybody is on vacation

      But your gesture is appreciated.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *