- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

26 June 2010; Tilbury 3rd day.

There was a spot of bad weather somewhere over the United States and that got our Air/Sea ticketing department all excited. Even to such an extent that they were asking me if I could delay the departure time, if necessary. That decision involves looking at a large number of things. The most important ones: One; How long can I stay and still make the next port on time, while running a safe speed all the time? I have to cross the North Sea and there are areas where the traffic is so dense that racing through them at full sea speed it is not always good seamanship. Two: How will this affect my fuel consumption, in relation to the number of people affected? It does not make much sense to spend $20,000 extra on fuel if one or two guests have to be flown to the next port and it would cost only $ 500. Three: Are these people flying on HAL tickets or are they on own arrangements? E.G lays the responsibility of a timely arrival at the ship with themselves or with the company. Four: even if they land on time, will they make it quickly to the ship? Traffic Jams could delay their arrival by yet another hour. Five: If I delay the ship and I would not make the next port on time, would this be fair to the guests already onboard? This is a consideration that comes into play when we are talking higher numbers. Normally if the next port call can be extended then is not such a big issue but if it can’t then it takes a good bit of consideration.

In the end all the delayed guests trickled onboard in the course of the morning and thus I could pull away from the dock on time. The sun was brightly shining, but it was much windier than expected and predicted but I like it when the wind is my friend and this time it helped against the ebbing current which was just setting in.

Some of my faithful readers have been asking questions again. So time to answer two more. When does the chief officer maneuver? When I think it is safe to do so. The company policy is that the Captain should let the Chief Officer (2nd in command) or the senior navigator maneuver whenever there is a safe chance to do so. For the modern ships that is a lot easier than with the Prinsendam. The newer ships have surplus power during normal circumstances and if the maneuver does not work out as planned it is fairly easy for the captain to correct the situation. With the Prinsendam where we maneuver most of the time on the edge of what is possible it is a bit more complicated. You have to get a feel for the ship first; know what she wants to do and know what she can do. Then you have to project in the weather conditions of current and wind and go for it. I had a good learning school with being chief officer and captain on the old N-ships as they were very difficult to play with. At least the Prinsendam has a strong bow and quite often the stern will then follow. So with the two new chief officers that I have here now, I am forever talking during my maneuver to explain what I am doing, what should happen as a result of it, and if it doesn’t what my plan B is. Then the chief officer can start with maneuvering when wind and current are not an issue. Eventually we will work it up to more complicated situations.

Restricting water take while at Tilbury. Luckily no. Apart from guest dissatisfaction with the crummy arrangements (or the lack of it) for a professional turn-over day at Greenwich, we had to deal with a limited capacity water barge. Here in Tilbury we just hook up the potable water hose and load what ever is needed. There are plans to build a pier in Greenwich and they have solemnly promised me that there will be a potable water connection and a grey water connection at that pier. We cannot make water ourselves on the river due to health rules as the Thames river water might be polluted and something might slip through, however unlikely.

By 1700 hrs. we were at the pilot station in the estuary of the Thames and we disembarked the pilot there in good order. Then I had put the brakes on again to let a ferry go by, who decided to cross my bow from the portside at a rather close distance before we could crank the Prinsendam up to sea speed. The weather forecast is advising nice weather but with a chance of poor visibility, so I have split up the night standby with the chief and I will call it an early night tonight, although there is first a party in my cabin, to welcome the guests who occupy the big suites. We on our way, to Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Tallin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Amsterdam and the long term weather forecast looks good.


  1. Thanks a bunch Capt! 🙂 Following winds across the North Sea!

  2. PS
    And a win for Holland over Slovakia tomorrow! 😉

  3. Thank you Captain! 🙂

  4. Captiain, What a long stay in Tilbury. Good for a bit of relaxing, but stil there will be a lot of things to do. I am looking forward for the blogs of the coming weeks, since next week we will also do in august and the 3 weeks after that, we did last year. But no cruise is the same.

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