After two nights of good rest, I love these overnights as I can really catch up on my sleep; we started preparing the Prinsendam for departure and for our next cruise. This cruise is called Gaelic Legends and will take 14 days. It goes all the way around The United Kingdom, sailing clockwise and will also call at Irish ports. Torquay (Torbay), St. Peter Port Guernsey, Cork, Foynes, Dunmore East (for Waterford), Dublin, Liverpool, Green Castle (Limerick), Stornoway, Peterhead, Leith (for Edinburgh) Greenwich (London) A very port intensive cruise that shows the best of the Gaelic culture. The weather around England and Ireland is always very much under the influence of what comes across from the North Atlantic so we will have to keep an eye on that. Ex hurricane Bill has just left the North American shores and is moving this way. The initial track is indicating that he is moving directly towards Iceland and would thus avoid Ireland altogether. However he is pushing two other depressions ahead of him and they might come closer.
The beautiful weather from yesterday lasted well into today, with glorious sunshine and with a moderate breeze blowing from the West, right on the stern. It was flooding, so when coming off the dock, I had to make certain that I kept the current between the ship and the dock, otherwise we would be pushed back again and come alongside the cargo dock behind us. That would be a very short sort of a cruise. Although the London Cruise Terminal sees its fair share of (German based) cruise ships it is not such a regular phenomena that the pilots are used to it. Thus the pilot watched with great interest the way a cruise ship maneuvers. First of all without tugboats, even with the current and secondly doing it the other way around to what a cargo ship would do. Cargo ships have most of their bulk below water and do not catch that much wind. The Prinsendam has a large super structure and in addition that big funnel acts as a sail and thus the stern tends to do other things than expected. So while balancing the bow in the current, I also had to keep the funnel in the wind to avoid drifting the wrong way. The maneuver looked in the end a bit of a zig-zag movement coming sideways off the berth.
An hour later the current changed and the ebbing started and we were flushed down the river with 2 to 3 knots of ebb current. Fine for me, it all saves oil having the wind and the current with us. You cannot go everywhere full speed on the river. Frequently you have to slow down where ships are docked or where construction is going on. One such place is the area called “Shell Haven” just west of the town of Canvey on Canvey Island. Here a new container terminal is under construction. The pilings for the new dock are being put in place at the moment and to avoid wake damage to the barges and tugboats involved, we reduce speed so far that the Prinsendam is pulling less than a mere ripple through the water.
As soon as you come near the town of Southend on Sea, the estuary becomes so wide that the wake of the ship cannot reach the shore anymore and then you can keep the speed going. With the sun behind us, sightseeing was perfect and the guests had a real good view of both banks of the river. Leigh on Sea, Southend and Shoebury on the port side and the Isle of Grain and the Isle of Sheppey on the Starboard side. By 18.30 we disembarked the pilot and started our voyage towards our first port of call Torbay or Torquay along the South shore of England. I will explain why there are two names here tomorrow.
For tomorrow the weather looks very nice, sunny but with the wind picking up later. However Torbay is very much located in a sheltered bay, so our tender service should have no problems. In the mean time I will be watching the antics of depression Bill and his friends in the North Atlantic.