- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

27 January 2010; Callao, Peru.

Callao is the port for Lima, Peru. The capital of Peru is just up the road but the fisherman’s place that Callao once was kept its name when the whole area rose to prominence and Callao and Lima got linked up together. As explained yesterday the whole port is under reconstruction now containerization has also taken over South America as the preferred mode of transport. The cargo sheds (Bodega’s in the Spanish language) from the old general cargo days are disappearing to be replaced by flat concrete surfaces for container stacking. As a result the old passenger dock, pier 5, is now not in use as such any more and the Prinsendam will dock at 11, which is a general cargo and bulk dock but which is made passenger friendly by adding some souvenir shops and a taxi parking. Part of it has not been completed in the area where were docking; the pillars of an old breakwater have not been removed yet and that means that I did not have the whole basin to play with.

We arrived at the pilot station at 06.30 after calling in our position to coastal control every hour or so. The approach is very straight forward as long as you keep exactly to the intended route. As the port is very busy they have created a Vessel traffic separation scheme (a sort of highway at sea) which keeps inbound and outbound traffic apart from each other. If you venture to the south of the traffic lanes, you end up between the reefs and to the north you cannot go as there is a very large anchorage area with at least 30 ships at anchor. No doubt the captains on these ships must get very irritated to see cruise ships zipping in and out without having to wait. However the port is small but very busy and thus cargo ships go in a queue. Thus complying with the local rules I sailed nicely on the dotted line to the pilot station and from there into the port.

As the port is so small, they do not take any chances here with ships floating through the port and thus you get two pilots and two tugs boats whether you like it or not. I do not mind that as long as the pilot sticks to an advising role and helps me and does not tell me what to do. However as I had to pay for the tugboats anyway, I decided to use them and to push the ship a bit quicker into the corner berth than I could have done under our own power. We had 300 meters of dock to play with on paper but with a bulk carrier on the transverse berth behind us and a chemical tanker in front of us, the real dock length available was no more than 250 meters. However as the Prinsendam is only 200 meters long, there was plenty of space, although from the ship it does not always look like it.

Tomorrow night when we leave I will have to back out, the way I came in. The dock was chosen by the harbour master based on a starboard docking but as my provision master wanted portside alongside for his vegetables, portside it was.
As everybody might have seen on TV, they are having big problems in the Machu Picchu area with torrential rain falls and mud slides. The railroad track has been covered in mud and a number of tourists at the site are being air lifted down to the lower area’s with helicopters. As far as we know, all our guests on the pre cruise overland tour, were down from the mountain before it started. However the group that is leaving us in Callao and was planning to go to Machu Picchu saw their tour cancelled which was of course a major disappointment. Especially as most had taken this segment of our cruise to go to Callao and do this tour. The company did manage to find a replacement tour to another site of great historic interest, but it was not the same of course. During our stay there will be 65 guests leaving and 87 boarding. We already have a full house with all cabins occupied but now here and in Valparaiso there will be more couples boarding and singles leaving.

The weather is holding and also far down near the Cape, the weather seems to be improving. There is still a parade of storms going by but the ones currently moving by are of lesser intensity. So let’s hope that that pattern holds.

1 Comment

  1. Nicholas Sabalos, Jr., CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

    January 29, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Thank You, Captain, for your exceptionally informative and just plain enjoyable blog!
    We sailed aboard Prinsendam on her recent Caribbean Holiday cruise, and we were disembarking on 04 January in Fort Lauderdale just around the time I suspect you were formally taking command.
    Your blog has not only kept us aboard Prinsendam in spirit since, but you remind this retired naval officer (“drove” cruisers, destroyers & frigates) everyday of the unique and spiritual joys of life at-sea….and the challenges of running a great ship, of course!
    Wishing You Fair Winds and Following Seas….as you journey towards Antarctica!

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