- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

27 May 2008, Juneau.

We were blessed with another extraordinary day of sunshine and clear skies. For me no fog to worry about as the light breeze kept it all away and for the guests glorious sunshine to enjoy the port and all the tours that were on offer. We were aiming for an early arrival again as we had to dock furtherest into the port, which is also the best spot and thus we had to be the leader of the pack. 11.400 eager shoppers were descending on the town today and the Veendam carried the first 1200. At least that was the plan, to be first that is. However the Infinity had once again a medical evacuation and requested to dock first. A similar occurrence as last cruise. Last time the linesmen were not on time and in the end we were both delayed in docking. This time the linesmen were on time and the Infinity could slip in quickly and get the patient off the ship. We could just follow in and park at our normal spot but with only 45 feet clearance to work with, it took a bit longer than originally planned as you cannot simply sail the ship in anymore

With temperatures reaching 70oF in the sun it was a pleasant day for us and high summer for the locals. It looked as if half the school population was in shorts and gathering in the little park under the bow of the Veendam to enjoy the weather. I suppose all is relative. Summers for us are Caribbean temperatures but Alaskans (or are they called Alas-kanians???) find that boiling. What is normal weather for them is considered outright grotty by us. I spent the day on inspections, doing my teaching class and catching up with paperwork. All followed by an afternoon nap, as sunshine normally indicates the chance of reduced visibility (fog) later in the evening and during the night.

My wife went on a shopping expedition as rumors had reached navigation deck that a new Wall-mart and Home depot had opened. My wife’s interest was in Wall-mart, the chief officer wanted to know about Home depot. The latter for buying small bits and pieces to keep the onboard maintenance going. It is most of the time cheaper to buy small quantities of nails, bolts, nuts and brushes locally and direct, than to order it through the company system. That works best, when you order bulk. Hence a direct interest in the existence of these stores. Nobody better than to send than my wife; who has a major degree in shopping, graduated cum laude, and also has a minor degree in finding the lowest prices.

Both shops indeed existed and can now look forward to a steady stream of visitors. One store can be reached with local public transport for the other we still are finding out what the best way is to get there.

Another person who was out on a fact finding mission was my second officer, he was inspecting the local fire fighting school in Juneau. Next week we start with a training/refreshment course for our firefighting squads and by having a look first, they can now be properly briefed on what is going to happen. He came back very impressed, so it looks like a useful investment in time and money.

On departure we had two boats from the USCG giving us an escort out of the port. This is part of their Homeland Security Program and they form a no-traffic-zone around the ship. The idea behind it is that if they do it in every port it creates a warning to deter enemies. If it works is something I will leave to the proper assessors but I find it handy for another reason. They help us to keep the boat people away who might stray into our path out of ignorance or curiosity. We just have to ask them to go to a motor boat or yacht that comes too close for comfort for collision reasons and off the USCG boat speeds to move the boat out of the way. They do not escort ships every time and they never announce when they are going to do it, but when they do, they are always useful to us.

We are now on the way to Ketchikan. Rainy capital of the world. As expected the weather forecast does not promise us sunshine tomorrow but a 50% chance of rain. I just hope that this 50% will fall on the mountains and not on the port.


  1. Captain,
    I am certainly enjoying your blog. Thank you so much for the time you put into it. I wanted to let you know that it is Alaskans and WalMart (as opposed to Wall-mart. Just thought I would let you know. Again, thank for you a great blog!

  2. I really had a chuckle about the shopping prowess of your wife. I think all of us women are alike. Always looking for the next big bargain. I hope her shopping expedition was successful and enjoyable. Thank you so much for the info you share. I have a cruise coming up on the Amsterdam. Can’t wait to see Alaska. One quick question, do you ever happen to see the “Northern Lights” during the summer? Thanks again for the wonderful blog

  3. Captain Albert, it appears that this coming weekend that the Northern Lights may be visiable as far south as Juneau. The active days are to be Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Unfortunately this weekend you will be heading south back to Vancouver but could you tell us if any of the other HAL ships do report seeing the Northern Lights?
    Thanks so much for daily web blog, I am counting the days till we return to Alaska on the Amsterdam on 13 June.

  4. Lisa L, when you are in Skagway, come to see me at Alaskan Fairy Tales, on the east side of Broadway between 2nd and 3rd Avenue…I love seeing people from down south in our town. It would be a real treat.

  5. Captain: Yes, the continued sunshine in southeast Alaska has left us locals sweltering. We don’t hate the warmer temps, but we sure aren’t used to more than 2 or 3 days in a row of sunshine. The excitement over Wal-Mart and Home Depot’s arrival in juneau began last June 28 when home Depot opened. Wal-Mart about the same time, or a little later I think… Very handy place, Home Depot! We ordered flooring thru Home Depot and the wonderful part was that we paid for the shipping only from Juneau to Skagway, not all the way from someplace down south. I’ll bet your research shopper found much to crow about when she returned. Yes, too, the fire chief in Juneau was fire chief here in Skagway before he moved up to a larger department there in Juneau. He is a crackerjack, A-number-one great guy and whatever dealings you have with him will result in both your lives being enriched.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *