- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

23 September 2012; Vancouver, Canada.

It is not exactly company policy to make a scenic cruise announcement at 06.00 in the morning but I was very tempted to do so. What we had this morning was a picture postcard arrival. It was still dark (with Sun rise being at 7 am) when we started the approach around 05.30 towards the Lions Gate Bridge and the Vancouver sky line was lit up like a Fancy Fair. We had crystal clear skies, wind still weather and it all just looked as if on a postcard. It was in one word beautiful. This was my 235th cruise to Alaska and I think this Vancouver arrival was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I was glad to see that at least about a 100 guests were out on deck, alerted by me the day before that we would have nice weather in Vancouver. But I could not have predicted this in my wildest dreams.

lions gate by night This is a stock photo from the internet but it gives an idea, of how it looked.

During the night, the pilots had made arrangements about the pecking order for going under the bridge and the Norwegian Pearl and Golden Princess were leading the convoy as they had to go the deepest into the harbor, docking at Ballantyne Pier and Canada Place East. Then it was our turn, as we were going to Canada Place West followed by the Zaandam at Canada Place North. When there is a ship at the North dock, (which is really the top end of the West side) it is harder for the ship at the West dock to come in and thus the Zaandam followed us in. By 06.25 we were under the bridge and slowly following the Golden Princess as she was backing into the berth but had to swing off the pier first.

By 07.00 hrs we were alongside and at 07.01 we threw our first heaving line ashore to hand out the mooring lines. We have to wait until exactly after 07.00 to avoid paying extra overtime for the longshoremen. During the coastal season, the longshoremen who deal with the supplies and luggage also act as linesmen. When we go deep sea, there are deep sea linesmen coming to do the job. It all has to do with regulations and union contracts. Sometimes I do not understand it all but we comply and watch the clock until the magical first second after 7 appears on the screen.

It being a Sunday, and a nice day, it was very busy on the promenade of Canada Place, so the navigators had quite a hard time concentrating on their daily chores as Canada flaunted all the beauty it could show. Binoculars are a great invention but sometimes also a great distraction. I was busy with my navigation puzzle (after having put down the binoculars……..) about sailing to Victoria, which is our next port of call. It is only an 85 mile distance, but if you sail all night, then the ship will have to travel at an approximate speed of 7 knots. We are required by schedule and contract to depart just before 17.00 hrs and we cannot arrive before 06.00 in Victoria. So after confirmation by the agent I decided to go for the middle way. Sail with full maneuvering speed to Victoria anchorage, spend the night there, raise the anchor at 05.00 and be docked by 06.00. With the nice weather the anchorage is a good place to be and you can see the night sky line of Victoria at the horizon.

This cruise concluded the Alaska season for the Statendam. Next year the ship is back as the only S class ship still visiting Alaska. Bigger ships are being sent all the time to this popular destination and I am wondering what is going to happen as soon as the new & bigger Panama Canal locks are being opened. We might get an Allure of the Seas coming up the coast. Just imagine 6000+ guests invading Columbian Emeralds in Ketchikan.

I was pleased to meet several of my blog readers during this cruise. It does give me the feeling that I am not writing it all for myself. Thank you to all who were on board, and especially to missedcareeratsea for being on board and for waving goodbye to us for the very last time this season.

We did leave on time; following the Zaandam out. She is going directly to Hawaii, while we first call at Victoria before sailing south to San Diego. We have a full house on board but about 500 guests will only stay for the coastal part and will leave in San Diego. They will be replaced with new guests, so we should be sailing full again on our coming Trans Canal

13 Comments

  1. You had a beutiful final cruise in Alaska this year…and I had a beautiful time reading about it and sailing along with you.
    Much Thanks. Welcome Back!

  2. What a nice (feel-good) blog today! Glad you guys are having great weather and enjoying God’s palette. (wish I was there to see all this first hand)…and please, keep writing–I’m listening.

  3. You are absolutely not writing it all for yourself!!

    I sailed in passenger liners with the British Merchant Navy in the 60’s and have tried to re-live some of it by taking frequent cruises (including some with HAL)

    Your daily blog brings back so many memories of those far off days. I thoroughly enjoy reading your perspective of the world from the bridge.

    Many thanks from an avid follower!

  4. Views and scenery like that are why we endure the Winters here…. When it is beautiful, words barely do it justice. Also, some of the smoke from the forest fires east of the Cascade mountains might have added a hint of red to the sunrise and sunset.

    One of these day, I will set foot on a HAL ship while you are captain/master of that ship! 🙂 Just not this time…… 🙁

  5. Bonnie in Vancouver

    September 25, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Lots of us are out here reading your blog, Captain. In fact my husband and I had the pleasure of being aboard the Veendam transatlantic which I believe was your very first blog. We hope you will be on the Statendam at this time next year as we are scheduled to sail to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Marquesas on her.
    I am so happy Vancouver put on a good show for you yesterday. We have been having spectacular weather for all of August and September. I look forward to hearing all about the work at the school in Nicaragua.

  6. Your posting reminds those of us who live in Vancouver that another season is coming to an end. I shall miss watching the ships sail into English Bay while on my Stanley Park seawall walks. April won’t be far away!

  7. What a wonderful first cruise back, and your descriptions are very uplifting, thank you so much for brightening an ‘old ladies’
    day’s, also Vancouver is one of my most favourite ports, it has every thing I think

  8. Love reading your posts. Makes me want to book the next ship out…oh, I guess I have that taken care of already. Can’t wait to sail with you!

  9. Thanks so much for inviting us along on your cruises. You are definitely not “writing it all for myself.”

  10. Your comment about different personnel handling your mooring lines raises this question: What is the difference between sailing on coastal routes as compared with deep sea routes that require different men handling your lines?

    • Good morning,

      In principle all ships coming into the port of Vancouver use deep sea line handlers. Line handling is a special job and you have line handlers all over the world in each port.
      A number of years ago, an arrangement was made with the linehandlers company/ association/ union that on the coastal ships (e.g the summer cruise ships) this could be done by the longshoremen serving the ships. The challenge for the linesmen was that they could not service 5 cruise ships at the same time at different docks, so an arrangement was made by calling Alaska not deep sea. Thus if you come directly from another country, not alaska, or depart for it, you use deep sea handlers, if you come/go to Alaska, or another Canadian port, you can use longshoremen. I do not know if it makes a difference in money, but we need the arrangement for a timely arrival and departure.

      Thank you for reading my blog

      Capt. Albert

  11. What a wonderful cruise I had aboard the Statendam and I never left my chair.
    Thanks to your excellent description of this cruise I was there in spirit and imagination.
    I look forward to going through the Panama Canal with you. I actually went through the Canal in 1992 aboard the Rottendam. That was a trip to remember.
    No, Captain Albert, you are not writing it all for yourself. We are all aboard with you.

  12. Missed Career at Sea

    September 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    From your good ship the Statendam the return to Vancouver was a spectacular panorama in lights indeed, Captain. The still of an early morning I always cherish, and therefore stepped on deck when only ca. 5 other guests stood at the tip of the bow.
    Thank you for clarifying the time limits you deal with in Victoria as I couldn’t clearly hear your explanations from the promenade.
    I will also thank you properly for the unexpected twist to my last look on the “glorious” Inside Passage from my seat at the stern in the ‘Rotterdam’.

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