Today we were sailing off the Californian coast passing the San Francisco area in the early morning. We stayed far far away from the entrance area to the Golden Gate, first because our straight course line did not take us there but also as there are rules that stipulate, that if you do not need to be there, then you should stay away. The days of casual sightseeing are over and only the ships calling at a port or area should be in the designated shipping lanes. The only sight we had was a thick cloud cover lying over the ship. That was not in the predictions but in the battle between the Northerly –dry- wind -promising clear skies and the Southerly -wet- flow caused by hurricane Miriam; the south won this time and that resulted in overcast skies. Going forth on that way of thinking, this flow must have tired Miriam out so much that she was degraded to a tropical storm with the prediction of falling apart within the next 36 hours.
Good news for all of us for the future. Following the receding coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles also meant that we left the large wave field behind which had caused the ship to move about a little bit. By late afternoon the ship was completely steady again as the stabilizers were taking care of the long ocean swell coming in from Hawaii. Up north things are less pleasant. Both the Westerdam and the Oosterdam were forced to cancel Sitka to out run a storm that was building up in the Gulf of Alaska. This coming Sunday the last ships will be leaving Vancouver for the last time and then things will be quiet until April 2013. Hibernation time for the shopkeepers and Tour operators in the various ports of call; and time to get their gear in order for next season. Since Alaska has brought their Head Tax back to a more decent amount the number of ships calling at Alaska is going up again and so is the total Bed count.
We are in the 3rd and last day of our audit now and today is was the battle with the paper trail. Although people claim that the computer has brought us less paper do deal with, the new Management Systems have resulted in the opposite. More reports and somewhere down the line more hard copies have to be made. Half an audit is always about the paper trail. Something has only occurred or taken place if it has been documented and properly filed. For all regular maintenance and trainings we have an electronic filing system called AMOS-W. (Automatic Maintenance Operating System – version W) It generates automatically when inspections are due, when machinery overhauls have to be done and when other test activities have to be carried out. A short or long report is filed by the Officer responsible when each item is completed.
The entries made are sometimes long, sometimes short and are sometimes written in very original English so it can take the auditors quite some time to go through all the entries of a certain item that they have selected for review. You cannot check everything and thus an auditor tries to sample just a small part of the whole database, but he/she will try to select a part that is reflective of the whole operation. It helps if an auditor has shipboard experience otherwise it is difficult to understand a description as “already not yet” which is Filipino english for we have looked at it already but not done anything about it yet.
By 5 pm. the auditors handed in their draft report and as expected the Statendam had done very well. They found a few items of course; show me the first auditor who goes home without anything to report, but all were minor items and mainly the result of the crew doing what they had to do, but forgetting one thing in the whole process. The auditors also listed a number of good practices which were developed here on board and which should be shared with the rest of the fleet. One was introducing a polishing system for light diffusers which saved $ 20,000 by spending $ 25, — on two electric car wax polishers. Another one was the creation of a moveable railing in the centre corridor of the ship, so that the crew does not slam into stores and pallets if the ship would suddenly lurch. All good stuff to be proud about.
Tomorrow we are in San Diego, 650 guests are going home, and 560 are coming on board that that means that we will sail with a full house on departure with all cabins filled. The weather for San Diego looks very good, overcast on arrival but that will burn off in the late morning and then temperatures in the high 80’.s