So I am back on the blog. A blog which I had to stop as things were getting too confused and fast moving for me to relate correctly and with sufficient authority. If you look at the last blogs, I had mentioned already a few times that the company was moving faster than I could record it. Then throw the world stage, with all its politics into the mix, and I did not know any more if I was coming or going. So we stopped.
On 09 April the last guests left the ship, and then ship went into warm lay-up. Healthy guests but a few guests remained on board who could not leave as they could not get home for all the reasons that went with the current situation. Things on board are now returning to a sort of normal, albeit a new normal.
This blog is a compilation of the past period as seen through the eyes of yours truly and as I am not involved in politics (*) there is no opinion about why something happened, just what happened and how the ships made it work.
(*) Maybe Captains should all run for office, each in their respective country, I am absolutely convinced the world would have less issues. Continue reading
Well, I have some catching up to do to finish my blog properly before going home. Yesterday I could only manage a one liner as I spent most of the night and the day and the following night on the bridge. On the 27th we called at Ketchikan and it was the proverbial silence before the storm. Coming down from Glacier Bay, the forecast was already getting gloomier and gloomier but a quick calculation showed that we could call at Ketchikan without any issues. The problem was only starting in the night of the 27th and the day of the 28th. Getting back to Vancouver on time was the challenge. So while the ship was happily docked on a dry Ketchikan day (a good reason to be happy) I worked out a plan how to have the least impact of the coming weather. Continue reading
As I always write my blog a day later, I have to skip this one, as today 28 Sept. we are trying to avoid the bad weather that is going on and that means long hours and standby’s on the bridge.
My apologies and I hope to catch up in the coming days.
Glacier Bay is just around the corner from Skagway. As a matter of fact it is on the other side of the mountain range. A mountain range with an ice field on top. So to get to Glacier Bay we have to sail around it. Hence during the night we sailed down a very windy Lynn Canal again, turned west into Icy Strait and then to the north into Glacier Bay. The Norwegian Pearl was scheduled to be ahead of us with a Ranger pickup at 07.00 hrs. and we followed with 07.10 hrs. That made life for the pilot and the navigators easy. Stay 10 minutes behind the Pearl, monitor their speed and let them do the work. On a night like this it really does not matter but when there are lots of fishing boats it is always handy to have somebody ahead of you, trailblazing a path and then just follow them at your convenience. Continue reading
Today there were only two ships in Skagway. Us and the Norwegian Pearl. A sure sign that the season is ending. Because we were only two, we were both docked at the Rail Road Dock as this is the best dock for being out of the wind. Also on this dock the trains can stop right in front of the gangway. This is always nice as some of our guests are not in the long distance running group anymore. The weather forecast had been a mixed bag but after a gloomy arrival, it turned into a dry but very chilly day. Winter is definitely on the way. Continue reading
While crossing over to Alaska, the swell was sufficiently enough on the port side that it caused more rolling than pitching and that is always good as the stabilizers can deal with that. Still the ship moved quite a bit, so I was quite happy with my decision to go for the inside route. Going outside would have been quite un-pleasant for the guests. The pilot boat was already waiting for us when we approached and by midnight American time we had our Alaskan Pilots on board. 5 minutes later we were flying. The current in the Inside Passage was favorable, sometimes you just have to have a bit of luck, and that meant that I started to make up the lost time from yesterday morning. Continue reading
Seymour Narrows slack tide was at 01.45 but I asked the pilot to go through as soon as the current fell below 4 knots. That is a safe situation and it saved me 30 minutes. I was in a hurry, as the run to Juneau is a tight one and also I was expecting inclement weather that could slow us down. So the pilot did what was asked and as soon as we were through we cranked the ship up to the warp speed of 21 knots. By 08.00 hrs. we were out in the open area of Queen Charlotte Sound and here we were greeted by a very deep and long running swell coming in from the Pacific Ocean. It took several hours before we were far enough away from it before the ship became steady again. Quite a few guests were not in a very happy state because of it. Nothing I could do here, as it is the only way to go. Continue reading
After a fast passage through Georgia Strait, the body of water West of Vancouver and North of Vancouver Island, we sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge at 06.15 hrs. and were docked by 07.30 hrs. It was a miserable morning with drizzle and wetness but luckily no wind and that made for an easy arrival. Still even in the rain and gloom Vancouver harbor was able to look nice. See photo by my hotel director Bert van Mackelenbergh at the end of this blog. The end of the season is approaching and that means that some ships are already going southbound, with no doubt very happy captains on board, especially after last week’s weather. Continue reading
This morning we sailed through Queen Charlotte Sound and also here the turmoil had died down. When the weather is bad this area can be even worse than Alaska due to the fact that the storm gets sort of locked in. QCS is fairly open but with the Queen Charlotte Islands to the West and the Canadian mainland to the East any sort of bad weather coming from the West is pushed in there. Coming closer to the American border the open area gets less and the storm has to push itself back through to open waters again. Thus the wind can nicely build up the swell and as the Queen Charlotte Sound is shallow at the North side, the swell can really become high as the water has nowhere else to go. In the winter time this can be a very dangerous place to be. Continue reading
We had a very quiet night tucked away in the Behm Canal. The ship slowly steamed up and down, making a run every four hours. A bit boring for the pilots and the navigators but everybody was just happy to be in the lee of the mountain. In the morning the wind started to pick up as the direction of the wind flow shifted more to the south. That was good news as it meant that the weather system was moving to the west. Time to come out of hiding and go south. Continue reading