With the stormy day fading into memory we sailed today through the North Atlantic Ocean with sunshine, smooth seas and only a low rippling swell from the North West. We are now south of the 30o Latitude North and that means that we are in near tropical waters. This area is normally reasonably quiet as long as it is out of the hurricane season. CNN just announced that the season is over and thus it must be. So as long as Cape Hatteras is sending its depressions eastwards this area is relatively quiet as just to the south the regular trade winds are blowing. Today there was hardly anything blowing with just a gentle breeze touching the top of the waves. This has the pleasant result that the guests can enjoy two glorious sea days before they disembark in Fort Lauderdale. Apart from have the option of a very full daily program, the outside of the ship is becoming more and more interesting as well. In the past few days there was not much to see at all, apart form the occasional seabird. Now ships are appearing on the horizon again as we are coming closer to the normal shipping lanes.
The route from Funchal to Florida is not known for its importance as one of the major trade routes of the world and thus we did not see much traffic at all. Now coming closer to the USA with the Gulf of Mexico to the West and the Panama Canal to the South West we come across ships again. The Bahamas act as a great “Barrier Reef” that hinders all traffic to and from the lower States, Mexico and beyond. North South traffic either has to hug the coast of the USA or find an entrance to get to that coast. East –West traffic has either to go North of all the Bahamanian islands or go in through the NE Providence Channel, as we will do, or sail up the Old Bahama Channel north of Cuba.
Even if we do see a ship with the naked eye, we can still see it on the radar which shows the echo even if the ship is far beyond the horizon. Also its AIS identification will show up on the screen and that is always a source of interest to the navigator. Apart from the ships particulars it also shows were the ship is going to and that is sometimes a source of great merriment. Not all ships take the rules and regulations for the AIS that serious and that results in some very peculiar messages coming on the display. To give a few examples of destinations observed:
English harbour launch: From here to Eternity
Fishing boat: going home
Container ship: Timbuktu (as far as I know they have not started digging the channel yet)
Other type of vessel (*): I have a baby son.
Cargo ship: waiting for captains orders
(*) The sort of vessels you can select from the drop down box on the AIS is limited so that not all versions of merchant marine craft are available. Hence the option for “other type of vessel” that will cover the more obscure creations that float upon the high seas.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to yet another grand day at sea. Then it will be time to start packing for the guests as we only have a few who are staying for the next cruise. To make the blow of facing real life again less hard, we are doing our last hour back tomorrow night, so everybody does not have to retire that early. It will also give the crew a good nights sleep, as fort Lauderdale is going to be a very challenging day.