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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

26 September 2012; Off the Californian Coast.

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


  1. All right Captain Albert:

    Reading between the lines, I think I share your observations/opinions about the Alaska (cruise) weather. We did it once (on the Statendam incidentally) in 2003. Rotten weather and visibilty, no whales sighted. Once was enough for us.

    This is a silly reminder, but be sure that the Statendam picks up the school supplies for Puerto Corinto sent to SD during the course of the summer to the San Diego port agent..

    Love your blogs. Please keep me informed via your blog about the progress in Puerto Corinto………Ruud Hartog

  2. Happy Birthday, my friend (9/27) !! … I hope you and Lesley enjoyed that “extra glass of water on the rocks” together … even if in cyber world. 🙂

  3. Good day Captain Albert,
    I have been an enthusiastic reader of your blog for a couple of years now. The information and commentary your provide is wonderful.

    I guess I don’t really have a specific comment, but more of a question. I have been sailing as a Deck Officer for 6 years, and have worked as a Chief Officer onboard offshore science vessels for the last couple of years. I hold a Master Unlimited certificate. I would really like to make the jump to the cruise industry as it is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a young child. Unfortunately I have no experinece onboard large passenger vessels and I realize that this could hinder my transition to this industry, even at the junior officer level. I was wondering if you might have any comments or suggestions as to how I could get started in the industry. I would be more than happy to send my resume to you if you wanted to review it.
    Any assistance or suggestions you could provide is very much appreciated. Wishing you and your guests smooth sailing.

    Douglas Roe

    • Hello Douglas,

      Question one is, who issued your license ? If it is an USA source it might very hard to get a job on the non US flag ships, as your license needs to be recognized by the flag State. USCG does not recognize any non USA licenses and thus the Flag States of most other country’s do not recognize an USA license. Tit for Tat politics I assume. With an USA license talk to NACL America, and the smaller boat operators. If you have a non US license then you would simply go on the various websites and see what is there. We always need people.

      Thank you for reading my blog
      Capt. Albert

      Capt. Albert

  4. Missed Career at Sea

    October 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Just one more beautiful lady has poked her nose around the Stanley Park bushes this morning, Captain! Her new Captain sailed her in under a clear and blue sky. She’ll be coming back yet on the 23rd of October taking the honours again of being the very last HAL ship this year.

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