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.