- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

26 August 2009, wobbling all the way to Cobh.

In the course of the early morning, the wind really started to blow. Mostly from the South while blowing strongly with various strengths. Short heavy waves were coming in from the South South West at the same time. We measured a peak wind of force 9 around 8 AM., and saw the highest waves around 10 AM., when a few rollers came by that were topping 20 feet. Most of the time it was wind force 7 to 8. With all the extra time available due to the fact that Guernsey was out of the question, I could sail with slow speed. Now the Prinsendam rode with its bow up and down the waves instead of banging into it all the time. (E.G. being lifted up and then slamming back on top of the waves) Although we still slowly pitched in a regular motion, it was only occasionally that we “hit” a wave and even then only very gently.

To keep it as pleasant as possible, I kept the seas at a slight angle to the ship. That way we did not roll too much and what ever roll we made was compensated for by the stabilizers. Also the pitching was less this way as the bow took each wave slightly off the centre and “sliced” into it. That way we sailed on a westerly course into open waters.

To get to Cobh, you have to follow the English coast. First sailing West while under Cornwall, then North West heading up to Wolf rock and then North, via the VSS system located between the Isles of Scilly to the West and Lands End to the East. The fastest route is this North Westerly heading, leading directly to where the VSS starts. However that North Westerly course would bring the swell from the South South West more onto the beam. The result would then be a combination of Pitching and Rolling. That combination results in a sort of corkscrew motion and that can be very un-pleasant. Apart from that it can make you violently sea sick it can also be dangerous to those who are not used to a lively ship. You can get used to the up and down movement, you feel it coming. Also the rolling of the ship can be predicted as it is a regular motion. Those two things you can predict and prepare for. With a corkscrew motion there is much less of a rhythm to the ships movement. Sometimes more roll, sometimes more pitch and then suddenly a heave that is both of them at the same time.

Thus instead of following the shortest route, I stayed on a westerly course until I had the VSS almost due North. Then we changed course to North and speeded up. The winds and sea were now following and were pushing the ship ahead. The trick is to ensure that the ship goes just faster than the waves travel. Otherwise you get a kick in the……. and the stern starts to twist. So we basically did what a surfer does, gliding ahead of the large wave while the surf board still rides on its base. Now the ship was behaving in very nice and steady way and I kept the Prinsendam on this course way past the point where we officially should start to change course to the West; to head for Cobh. With all this extra time on my hands a few extra miles did not matter. So we kept going north until late in the evening, providing a stable platform for dinner and the shows. Travelling North, until we were well past the Latitude of Cobh. By 10 pm. the waves and wind had subsided so much that I could turn West South West towards Cobh pilot station. The ship started to pitch again gently but less than in the morning. Not much I could do about that anymore as we had to go that way to get to Cobh on time.

The Prinsendam is an excellent sea ship and I hope that the guests onboard realize how lucky they to be on this ship while encountering bad weather. The tapered nose is meant for riding high waves and she does it extremely well.

Tomorrow we are in Cobh, the deep water port of Cork. The weather is looking good, certainly for Irish standards. Wind still on arrival with only the occasional shower in the morning and early afternoon and a bit of a breeze later in the day.

However, my worries are not over. The next frontal system is approaching and if this system is not veering away to the North on time, I am going to have a problem with going to Foynes the day after tomorrow. The next 24 hours will be interesting to say the least.


  1. Richard McIntosh

    August 28, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Captain Albert, Always interesting – wish we were there. Sailed with you Apr 30 this year. Particularily enjoyed the evening from Almeria to Ibiza. We have fondest memories of Prinsendam and look forward to next time. We hope the crew member who was taken ill off in Bermuda is doing well. We are booked on Veendam this September and Amsterdam next September. Our best regards.

  2. Steven Polakoff

    August 28, 2009 at 6:03 am

    On our way to Cork the waves were indeed enormous and it was amazing how smooth the ride remained. I have been on ships with waves half as big made the ship roll so much that dining was impossible. But in this instance, it was very pleasant sailing despite high seas.

  3. Glad you felt comfortable ! This is entirely due to the know-how of your Captain and the wonderful Prinsendam . Can’t get a better combination !!!

  4. Missed Career at Sea

    August 31, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this log, Captain, and knew what I was going to read before I got to the bottom of your 2nd paragraph 🙂 After all the ships you commanded with all the fancy gadgets I was hoping you would take to this older lady, even though you have been soaking wet on umpteen occasions by now! One video of the Prinsendam showed the instruments on the open bridge wing for an instance and have seen the ‘silver’ stand [looks like an expensive b-b-q to me 🙂 ]

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