We had wobbly weather all day long, courtesy of a frontal system that had come down deep into the Caribbean Sea. Luckily the wind and waves were mainly coming in from starboard and thus the ship did not move very much. As it was sunny and warm guests could still enjoy the outside. The one nice thing about this weather system was; that it was moving over the Caribbean Sea and creating some calm weather in the Tampa area. Thus tomorrow will be a calm and sunny day while at the dock. The chance for fog is rather small as the wind in the Tampa area will only have just abated when we get there and that lessens the chance of fog forming over water. Inland there might be some as there will have been less wind to keep the haziness away.
I have 8 more days to go before I go on leave and have therefore started on my Captain’s handover report. This is a compulsory “piece of poetry” which each captain has to produce before leaving the ship. Apart from that it gives a summary of the past period for the boarding captain and it is also a report for our bosses in Seattle so that they have an overview of what is going on. The compulsory part comes under the company’s Safety Management System or SMS. Shipping company’s are required under Maritime Law to have a frame work in place that formulizes all the Rules and Regulations that a company uses to run itself. Some of those rules are dictated by Maritime Law but a large number are just necessary for the good operation of the company. Those are not required but if the company elects to make them part of the SMS system then we have to live by them.
To give a silly example; if it were a company rule that each crewmember would get a free ice cream each day then the company would have to implement and comply with that rule. Once a year a Lloyd’s auditor comes onboard to see if we comply and if the auditor would find that the company did not comply with the free ice cream issue then the auditor would note that in the report as a Non-Conformity. Then the company would be given so many days to get into compliance with its own rules. There would be nothing against removing the company regulation of free ice cream from the SMS but as long as it is in there, there has to be compliance. These SMS rules are, for HAL, documented in Marine Regulations. MR’s they are called and we have about 15 of them. They cover everything from Environmental to Medical, from Leisure to Nautical and from Technical to Human Resources. The company cannot put anything in it that goes against any Laws but it can put those laws in an operational frame work or put more stringent regulations in place. As an example, with Holland America,our environmental rules are much stricter than any Law that is currently out there.
So my captain’s report is part of this SMS and if I would not make one, I would create a Non Conformity. As the report relates to the whole ships operation, Hotel, Nautical and Technical, it takes a few days to compile it all. In principle I start the day that I board the ship by entering notes. The main basis for the report are the hand over reports of the chief officer and the chief engineer, input from the Hotel manager, plus own observations. From the reports of the two chiefs and the HM only those items are filtered out that are of direct interest to our head office and need direct attention.
Secondly there is the captain’s informal hand over report, which deals with the nitty-gritty stuff of the day to day handling of a ship. This report is only for the relieving Captain. The official report normally runs to about 25 to 30 densely typed pages and the informal one, to about 10………….. As my father would say, “It does keep you out of the Pub.”
As we left late from Roatan, I won’t be as early in Tampa as I normally like to be but we will be on time. The Carnival Legend, which is a faster ship, overtook us during the later part of the morning and so she will be ahead of us this time while going into Tampa Bay. I think she will be about 30 minutes ahead by the time we both approach the dock and that is just fine as she will not be blocking the channel when the Veendam starts coming alongside.