By 04.30 we picked up the anchor and sailed towards the pilot station just outside Victoria Harbor, from there it is about 3 miles towards the dock. As it is a slow approach and a 90 degree turn to line up for docking, it took just over an hour to get the Statendam parked. By 7 am the gangway was set in on the shore side and everybody could stream ashore. The weather was beautiful with no wind and a lot of sunshine so Victoria could enjoy the focus of 1200 eager shoppers and sightseers. We have now basically started our Trans Canal cruise, but with a 3 day coastal attached to it. Half the ship stays on and half the ship will leave in San Diego. Because of this longer cruise we will do some other ports than on our normal Trans Canal, where we do not call at Corinto in Nicaragua and Oranjestad Aruba.
We were the only ship in port today, although Victoria is going through a busy spell with cruise ship calls. They have the regular number of callers all summer with quite a few ships calling in to circumvent the Jones Act and the US passenger service act; but in spring and autumn there is a busy spell when all the ships start to relocate. Then there is always the option to call at Victoria as a safe haven when things get nasty up North in Alaska. Sometimes a captain can work out an alternative schedule by cancelling an Alaskan port and adding Victoria as a good substitute. So Victoria is a very popular place with captains, either on normal calls or for enacting a backup plan. The only challenge with the port is that there is not much room to drift while you try to get into the dock. It is fully open to winds from the SE, South and SW and as soon as you are approaching the dock, there is no plan B in case you get blown away.
Today there was no wind, so no plan B needed. We stayed until 1300 hrs and then sailed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, heading towards the Pacific Ocean. As soon as we entered the Strait we paid for the nice weather and a white cloud descended over the water. Luckily only for a few hours. The moment we entered the Pacific Ocean we got the cold wind blowing from Alaska and everything dissipated. While sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca we are watched over by a VTS (Vessel Traffic System) that governs the Strait. This is split up between Canada and the USA. Canada (Tofino Traffic) guards the approach to the Strait both for Canada and USA waters and once inside the strait, Seattle Traffic takes over. The one funny thing is while the water is the same, we have to close the Casino when inbound while sailing inside the USA boundaries (American law) but when we are outbound and sailing in Canadian waters we can keep the Casino open. (Canadian law)
Coming out of the Strait we have to make a very wide turn to go around a Nature Reserve that is located right at the south entrance of the Strait. Not a big thing to do, but it takes an extra hour of sailing and I am already on a tight schedule. Further down, when coming closer to the Catalina Islands there is a gunnery range where we normally sail through. Tomorrow I will call the US navy to find out if they are planning to shoot, and if so, I will have to sail around them to make sure that they do not shoot at us.
Now we have two sea days sailing down to San Diego, we will have following seas and swell so it should not be too bad. Following wind will mean very little relative wind on the deck and as long as I keep up the speed, the swells should have little effect on the ship as well.
My worries are for the coming days. About 500 miles off Cabo San Lucas, tropical storm Miriam has been upgraded to a hurricane. Now the question will be what she is going to do. Move towards the land, move towards the west into the open sea, or remain stationary. Eventually I will have to make a decision about whether to out run, whether to go behind or whether to wait. Nothing I can do or say yet, just keeping an eye on it for the coming days.
For the time being, I expect sunny weather, chilly and a very strong NW wind, but as it is a following wind, it should not affect us too much.