- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

24 September 2007, Sydney.

Well, my worst fears came true. During the night it blew up to 50 knots in North Humberland strait. That is the stretch of water between Prince Edward Island and the north side of Nova Scotia. Although less so in the morning, it was still very windy and choppy when we arrived at the pilot station of Sydney at 6 am.

However as the pilot had observed only six knots of wind in the port when he came out, I had not much choice other than to sail in and have a look for myself. Luckily at the end of the fjord that leads to Sydney dock, there is ample room to swing around if the wind would be too much. While sailing in, the wind started to breeze up again and was blowing a good 20 knots by the time we came to the channel that leads towards the dock. This channel is the problem with the port of Sydney. It is very small and the prevailing winds are mostly on the beam.

Here the regular maneuver is to swing the ship around and back her up through this small channel towards the dock. The ships are always docking there nose out, in case of sudden winds and other natural mayhem develops suddenly. Then the ship only has to let go the lines, give full ahead and get away from the dock into the deeper and wider part of the fjord. So I swung the ship around and lined her up for the channel. Ready to go astern. At this moment the wind really picked up and although I had all the ships power in the direction against the wind, the Veendam started to drift towards the shallows. This was definitely not going to work. This was the abort point, as explained yesterday. So I gave full ahead and sailed away from danger.

By 08.00 we were outside again, where the wind had picked up to 35 knots. We disembarked the pilot and set sail for Halifax where we are tomorrow. In the course of the afternoon, when we had just passed Cape Breton, the winds picked up to 50 knots again, now full on the beam. This created quite a list and the engineers had to react quickly with transferring more ballast to the high side and so bringing the ship horizontal again. Although it is not dangerous, it can be disconcerting for the guests, so I normally make an announcement to explain what is going on. I think that this time I blasted through the movie, the explorations lecture, the friends of Bill W and trivia pursuit. The Cruise director must really love me.

As the weather here in the North East is so un-predictable, the Cruise Director has an alternative plan ready for each day, in case I have to cancel a port call. Thus when I made my official announcement at 08.25 in the morning, she was on the tannoy 5 minutes later, regaling her audience with a full day program to keep everybody occupied. Most of the guests, who saw the white caps and felt the ships movement, understood the reason for cancelling. One lady was disappointed. She had hoped to combine her cruise with visiting her father’s grave in Sydney.

Tomorrow we are in Halifax and the weather forecast looks great.


  1. Sounds like Veendam is experiencing some “interesting” weather in the Maritimes at this time of the year! Appreciate you taking the time to tell us about it and how you are dealing with it! I guess you won’t have those issues to worry about in the Western Carib. starting on 21 OCT out of Tampa! 😉

    Take care and be safe!


  2. Appreciate your providing the names of the bodies of water that you cruise through.

    Last year we cruised on the last cruise of the season on HAL’s Amsterdam from Montreal to New York. So we cruised the cruise you all are now on.

    I have been trying to keep a list of all the bodies of water we have cruised on during our 17 cruises. Your blog has helped a lot in up dating my list and in correcting some bodies of water names.

    This year we sailed the Greek Islands and also utilized your blog comments during your cruise of those islands as well.

    Thanks for the fine educationl material and the names of the bodies of water that you cruise upon.


  3. This blog is a real treat and great fun to read. Thank you so much for the effort you make in providing it for us.

    Your view from the Bridge is fascinating.

    We’re long-time HAL cruisers and we especially appreciate the quality of the staff and crew. They make all the difference!

    Calm seas for you.

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