- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: ms Maasdam

2021 Feb. 17; Waiting for Better Times.

Dear Readers,

Here a little update from my side.  I have not posted since July 20 last year as the worldwide situation was so fluid that any update from my side would be old news, before it was uploaded.

I hope that everybody is doing well and adhering to the precautions needed for succeeding in defeating the Covid-19 virus. Here in England vaccination is well on its way and it is now becoming apparent that the continuous spread of the virus is mainly due to not keeping a social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands.   Not much different as what we were used to in the past when there was a norovirus challenge on the ships. The Covid-19 virus is of course much more aggressive and deadly but the principles of combating it are not much different. Remember when you were on the ships; Sing happy birthday twice when washing your hands with water and soap. If we not all do our little thing, then we will never get the cruise ships going again. Continue reading

24 March – 10 April 2020; Panama to Fort Lauderdale.

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

24 May 2017; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Just after midnight the water and air temperature got in balance and a white cloud descended over Northhumberland Strait. This is the stretch of water which separates Prince Edward Island or PEI from the rest of Canada and as the Maasdam was in the middle of that Strait we did not see anything anymore. And so it remained until arrival. Looking at the positive side it meant, no more rain but sunny periods during the day, even if it was chilly. Steam was coming off the aft swimming pool and that you only see when it is chilly, cold or freezing.

Charlotte Town from the sb bridge wing of the ms Maasdam.

Charlottetown is the largest town on the island and has grown around three rivers which all dump their water in the harbor area. It has a nice Cruise ship dock, long time ago inaugurated by yours truly with the Veendam when it was transformed from a small cargo dock into something which the locals can be proud about.  The town is named after a British Queen – Consort of King George III (Although she herself was German) and it has the claim to fame as being the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation. In 1864 the Charlottetown Conference was held here with the aim to unify the area which we now know as Canada.

Sailing into Charlottetown can be quite spectacular as the ship sails into a sort of lagoon with cliffs on both sides. These cliffs are of a red clay type material and give the area a very unique view. The port itself is located in the back and quite nicely sheltered. If there are more cruise ships in port then there is also an anchorage and that is less nice.  The three rivers converge here and there is the tide. In total four forces of current hitting the ship at anchor. At a normal anchorage the ship swings around on the tide and then settles with the bow into the flow.  Not here as the resulting influence of those four forces constantly changes and keeps pushing the ship one way or the other. It is constantly swinging around the anchor and it never settles.  I have been here at anchor only once (and that was more than enough) and during a four hour period (without a change from Ebb to Flood) the ship made three complete turns around the anchor. It only settled to some extent when the wind picked up; but we do not like that either as it means a choppy ride for the tenders. Luckily normally Holland America Line ships dock as we have been coming here as one of the first cruise companies and are very regular in our calls. In some ports seniority still counts for something.

Prince Edward Island. The Confederation Bridge location can be seen on the lower left. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

On the island there are plenty of things to see and do and some of the tours also go off the island as there is a bridge connection with the mainland. The Maasdam will sail under it tonight and it takes about 3 hrs. from the dock to get there.  It saves quite a few miles to take this route as otherwise you have to back track and sail around the whole of the East side of PEI.

Sailing under the Confederation Bridge is a mixed blessing. It is very nice to do and quite spectacular as the old Westerdam just fitted under it but the area is full of lobster pots and as lobsters do not tend to pay much attention to steamer routes, the fishermen tend to have the same attitude and set the pots wherever the lobsters might be.  If one is in the channel then we can sail around it and then there is a chance the rope between the lobster pot and the indicator buoy at the surface might get in the propeller. To avoid damage we have little knife tips permanently attached to the inner edge of the propeller to cut the rope before it hits the seal. Especially plastic fishing lines can cut into the seals of the pitch propeller blades and can cause oil leaks. Although the hydraulic oil we use is environmental friendly and does not pollute the environment, we still do not want leaks.

One way of getting the ropes out is by diver and we have to do that some times. We have little knife blades at the rim of the propeller end, exactly where the diver has his hands & knife. (Photo courtesy website osd.dtic.mil)

This evening we sail at 1800 and head to the St. Lawrence Pilot station and then tomorrow we will spend the day on the river, heading towards Quebec. Weather for tomorrow chance of rain and chilly, if it will bring haze, we will see.

23 May 2017; Sydney, Canada.

Sydney can be a horrible place if the weather becomes inclement and its location gives a lot of options for it to do so. Winters are harsh with North Easterly winds and when there is mayhem coming from the North Atlantic to the East then it also gets it. When they designed Nova Scotia they forgot to put a high mountain range on it and thus nothing shelters Sydney very much. On top of that its port is located in a sort of pond where even a medium size cruise ship cannot swing around in. Let alone a big one. Thus we have to swing off the cargo terminal and then go astern for half a mile.  We love going to Sydney but we like nice weather when we do so.

This morning we had it and with the sun shining brightly and hardly no wind at all the good ship ms Maasdam sailed without any concerns into Sydney Bay, swung around and went astern to the dock. We prefer to go stern in, so the nose is pointing to the direction of the sea. Always easier to give full ahead and racing away from bad weather in the port than having to struggle and swing with the wind full on the beam. So a wise captain always docks with the nose towards sea when feasible.

The red line is our course and where it stops is where we swing around to get to point B, the port at the narrow part. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Harbour)

The pilot boards outside and then sails the ship in, until we come to point A. There the captain (Or his designate, thus it was the Staff Captain this morning) swings the ship around and then goes astern to point B where the dock is. The dock is at the end of a sort of Fjord and there is only one way out and that is why we like the ship to already point that way.  I marked the map also with a point C. This is the west side of the entrance and here a lot of erosion takes place. Sand is deposited by the sea at the East side and eroded away at the west side. This has been going on for a while and the last time it was threatening the church with its grave yard, which in the years before had already lost some tombstones (and its inhabitants)

The weather forecast predicted inclement weather in the afternoon and that indeed happened. By 13.30 it started to get overcast and the wind picked up. The rain was coming which we had been outrunning thus far. By 16.00 hrs. just before departure there was 30 knots of wind and with rain showers already visible in the distance behind the ship. Halifax had had a good downpour in the morning and Sydney was the next one in line for some wet appreciation.

But for the guests, most of the day it was a very nice day and those not on tour walked into town. Sydney’s main street is quite close to the ship and a regular provincial town with some sort of a “border” flavor to it. There is very good Pub and Restaurant opposite the ship so I might be tempted during our next northbound visit to walk over there as (according to the ships agent) they have a nice variation of local Craft/draft beers there.  One should always be interested in local culture, especially if you can drink it.

Sydney also considers themselves the Fiddler Capital of the World and that cultural achievement is proudly displayed by having the largest (?) fiddle in the world on the cruise pier.

Today was ship inspection day which means I walk each deck and check each nook and cranny. It left enough time though to run ashore for the Staff Captain and buy a new TV for training purposes. The old one in the Bo ‘sun Store had a faulty PCB and according to our TV expert on board ordering a new PCB was almost as expensive as being a new one. As with every large company, we have a certain amount of Red Tape to deal with and ordering a new TV via the regular procedures might take three months. But the Training Dept.  In Seattle also has a small contingency fund for emergencies and they agreed that I & the ship had such an emergency.

A big store with a big Blue and Yellow sign was selling TV’s but was also the only store in town which did not accept US dollars so I also had a cultural outing to the bank of Nova Scotia where a very nice Lady calculated how much USA I needed to change to pay a Canadian bill. Canada (or at least Sydney) has a recycling surcharge on electric goods. I am all in favor of that so I paid another 35,– to ensure that the tv will be properly recycled. Only thing is that it will probably break down somewhere in the South Pacific and never come back to Sydney.  If it would do so in the South Pacific maybe we could land it in the other Sydney and say we already paid a recycling charge…………………..

Tomorrow we are in Charlottetown where we hope to be docked by 09.00 hrs. According to the weather guru’s the rain clouds should have shed their full loads on Cape Breton Island and Charlotte town is only supposed to be overcast with temperatures around 63o F / 17 oC. not bad for the month of May.

22 May 2017; Halifax, Canada.

We left a little late from Bar Harbor as the tours were delayed which is sort of normal. Something to do with traffic somewhere along the route. As a result we just made it on time to Halifax but it took a while to get the gangway lined up (first time of the season) and thus a real avalanche of eager shoppers burst out of the ship once the ship had been cleared. The lone piper who welcomed us into port was drowned out by noise caused by the stampede going down the gangway. I have never seen a ship empty itself out so fast as today. But then it was a gorgeous day with the sun brightly shining, no wind and still having cool temperatures which kept the haze away from spoiling our visibility.

Thus very quickly the large majority of the guests were gone and the rest trickled off the ship shortly after. A good thing as well, as at once controlled mayhem was initiated by means of our weekly fire and boat drill. Regulations are getting tighter and tighter, based on incidents and past experiences and that is reflected year by year in the increase of the intensity of our drills. All very much with my blessing; as in my humble opinion you cannot train enough. And if I could get away with it, then I would have everybody messing around with fire extinguishers and fire hoses and everybody would be proficient in driving and commanding a lifeboat. Maybe in the future that will happen, now crew specializes in certain duties and that works as well but there is always room for improvement.

A ships firefighting team coming around the aft end of Main engine nbr. 5 In real life the smoke would be black from burning fuel but we can not simulate that so we use white stage smoke.

As a result of the regulations and the way they are interpreted, it means that every crewmember has to attend a fire drill each week and each crewmember has to attend a boat drill every month with instruction and exercise. We cannot have all 600 crew of the Maasdam running around with a fire hose so for most of them assembling and getting ready is enough. Thus with every weekly drill we now have the whole crew on the move. And that goes as follows:

  1. We sound the First Stage Emergency alarm because there is an emergency, normally a fire.
  2. This means the firefighting teams assemble and exercise. Today we put engine number 5 “on fire” and drilled all the procedures for extinguishing it again. About 100 people are involved.
  3. The captain gets concerned about how the “if we can extinguish the fire or if we cannot”. He orders to sound the crew alert alarm and all the crew is now on the move. The majority of them report to their assigned stations ready to support the guests. Those with non-specified functions report to the crew mess room and wait for further instructions.
  4. The captain is now getting really concerned and wants everybody at the lifeboat station, just “in the case “. We ring the General Emergency Alarm and simulate that the guests have already reported to their lifeboat stations and now the crew can follow. The crew in the ship gets dismissed by groups and starts to appear on deck. The more critical the function is, the longer they have to stay where they are. So the firefighters are normally the last ones to appear on deck.

If things go so far that we have to abandon ship, then the sequence continues with announcements over the outside P.A system as everybody is on deck anyway. Guests are sent away in the lifeboats and the crew follows in the life rafts. The last person to leave is the Captain who will only leave the ship when he absolutely sure it will not survive.

Not all the crew has to stay on deck for this whole procedure, as soon as everybody has been accounted for, 75% is dismissed and the remaining 25% get their monthly training. So during the required monthly period everybody will be trained, refreshed and kept alert.

While this is going on, vital activities have to continue such as bridge and engine room watches but also preparing for lunch. Thus there is a rota for that crew to get excused for one of the four monthly drills. The whole sequence normally takes 60 to 75 minutes and today we were all quite happy because outside it was such nice weather.

The route from Halifax on the soutside of Nova Scotia to Sydney on the North side of Cape Breton Island. Map courtesy:  www.maps.com.

Tonight we will sail around the northwest corner of Nova Scotia, what is called Cape Breton and then we will be in Sydney by 11.00 hrs. which is located on Cape Breton Island. We are still out running the rain, but it will catch up with us in the late afternoon. Still there is no wind expected and the temperatures should be around 61oF or 16oC which will make it quite pleasant.

21 May 2017; Bar Harbor USA.

Bar Harbor has two anchorages for cruise ships. In principle there is more space for more ships but those anchorages are hampered by two problems. A. the tender distance to town is becoming to long to provide a good service B. those areas are currently full of lobster pots so you cannot anchor there without upsetting a lot of people,……. those who own those lobster pots.

But the two anchorages which are officially allocated are normally kept free of lobster pots (sort of…..) the most coveted anchorage is the south anchorage as here you can tender in a straight line from the ship to the dock.  Handy for the officer on the bridge to keep an eye on the tenders and handy for the tender drivers when the visibility gets less as they only have to continue sailing in a straight line. (That line they can see on a plotter which we have in the tenders and mark with GPS constantly the position of the tender. So if you have your first line on the screen, then you can just keep your tender on that line for the next run.

The South Anchorage. It looks nice and wide but the screen does not show all the lobsterpots

The North Anchorage is on the other side of a small island. That island blocks the view of the port and prevents tenders from sailing in a straight line. The officer on the bridge cannot see where the tenders are and the tenders have to sail around the island (and also around a plethora of lobster pots) to get to the shore and to get back to the ship. Thus they only way we can follow the tenders is with the AIS transponders they all have, so we can see them moving over the radar screen. But an AIS transponder always has a certain delay or lag time and that is something we do not like.

Down town tender dock is just behind the little cruise ship.

But we dropped the hook on the south anchorage and stayed there from 0700 to 1500 hrs. during what became a glorious day.  Sunny, not too warm and just a gentle breeze. Outside we had windforce five but the anchorage was really sheltered today.  We had another cruise ship in port, the Independence but she is so small that she could dock right in down town. There are a few of these little cruiseships around and they are small enough to travel up and down the canal and fairways of the USA visiting small ports along the route. But they are also seaworthy enough to stick their bow out into open waters if it is nice weather.

I was on the foc’sle on arrival and departure and had my school classes in between. I like to be at standby’s, as the captain and the staff captain can never get there themselves as they are required on the bridge. Plus it is normally the junior officers who are forward and that gives me the chance to hand over a few tricks of the trade.   Today the topic was mud. We can get highly excited about that, as mud affects the safe anchoring. There is solid mud, soft mud, mixed mud (with shells) and the anchor reacts to it in a different way. Bar Harbor has very thick grey mud with sometimes shells mixed into it.  This means that the anchor flukes do not always dig in very well and then with a bit of wind the ship can cause the anchor to drag and the anchor chain to slide and slither over the sea bottom. If the mud is soft then it clings to the chain and when we go anchor up, we only see a grey thick pipe coming above water with the anchor chain somewhere inside it.

The battle against the mud. There are four 9 bar nozzles in the hawsepipe, a five bar jet of the fire hose and still we lose the battle sometimes.

We do not like all that mud to go into the chain locker and thus we have strong sprays of water in the hawse pipe (where the chain enters the ship) to clean it off. Four 90o degree angled & powerful 9 bar jets on the chain. But for Bar Harbor that is not enough, we need another two fire hoses to clean the rest off. That is a whole organization with winch handlers, sailors with fire hoses, proper regulation of the winch speed and taking advantage of the movement of the ship to use the water flow around the chain and anchor to help even more.

Thick grey mud strong enough to cling to the anchor chain after having been tormented by heavy water jets.

To coordinate this is a sort of balancing act and anticipating what will happen next by keeping in mind how the ship will maneuver. So this afternoon we had the regular 3rd officer forward plus two cadets all eager to learn how to deal with………… mud.

Tonight we will sail towards Halifax and about 8 pm. we will pass Cape Sable the South East point of Nova Scotia on which island Halifax is located. We are supposed to be docked by 09.00 hrs tomorrow morning and then have a full day in port.

Weather: more of the same. Behind us the rain is coming but at the moment we seem to be able to out run it for the whole of tomorrow.

20 May 2017 Boston, USA.

My little operation came in action yesterday and I spent most of the day behind the computer preparing for two training courses the ship has asked me to give. Apart from hammering on the keyboard it also meant running around and talking to everybody as organizing something on a ship is as if you are trying to solve an equation with at least six unknown factors.  Everything hooks into the other and everything I do should be done in such a way that it does not affect the operation of the ship, not affect the work and rest hours of the crew and also does not interfere with other trainings or exercises which might have been planned by somebody else.  But we are now well organized and scheduled to add 20 more lifeboat certificates and 5 more tender operators to the pool of experienced people on board. At least if they have passed their exams just before I leave the ship on 10 June in Montreal.  And now I am patiently waiting for requests to have my proposed schedules changed again as something has come up here or there. That is life on board, it needs constant adjustment.

We docked by 08.00 in Boston at the Falcon Terminal. Ahead of us was the Veendam and that meant the complete S-class was in port as the Statendam and Ryndam are now sailing from Aussie Land for P&O Australia. Going into Boston has one peculiar thing, the airport. Or better said: the airplane approach path to the airport. The Falcon terminal is a side arm of the main channel leading into Boston and the ship has to make a 90o turn to enter this side arm. Right at the moment when the ship is in the flight path of airplanes descending towards Boston airport.  To avoid scary situations the pilot is normally in contact with the flight tower to check for gaps between approaching air planes so the ship can make the turn towards the dock without upsetting any pilots. Most of the time it works out fine and there is not an airplane to be seen.  But through the years we have had situations when a plane was right above us while we were turning.  If you look up from below to the underside of the plane it is hard to judge distances but at times it looked as if the wheels of the planes almost touched the strings lights between the mast and the funnel.  I wonder what the perspective of the pilot in the cockpit was and if he/she enjoyed flying over a smoking funnel.

During one of the coming calls here in Boston we will have another challenge, the Tall Ships will be in port. That will give two challenges for the ship: a. The roads from the Cruise Terminal to town and from there to the airport will be clogged so for the incoming guests it might take some extra time to reach the ship b; the harbor will be full of Sunday sailors and Six pack navigators all milling around and being in the way. The USCG and the Water Police always try their utmost to keep the route for the large ships clear but it is a challenge. Taking selfie’s with ships in the background is nowadays a very popular activity and a lot of these selfie takers forget that the ship behind them moves. I think that those who will be in charge of keeping order on the waves that day are already having headaches.  But we will see.

From Boston to Bar Harbor is not a long distance, it is just around the corner. And therefore we can arrive early and have the tender service going by 07.00 hrs. That is a time we really have to adhere to in order to get the full day tours off the ship on time. The distance between Bar Harbor and Halifax is a lot longer and if we do not leave Bar Harbor by 15.00 hrs. then it gets very tight to make Halifax on time. In Bar Harbor we will anchor as there is no cruise ship dock. The locals are having discussions about it; either to build a 2 ship finger pier, or to use the ferry pier on the North side of the town or doing something else. But not much has happened yet, while Bar Harbor is becoming more and more popular with cruise ships.  There are only two good anchorages so you cannot keep piling the numbers up.

The weather for tomorrow should be good again, more of the same as we had today. Sunny but still with a cool breeze, so the chance of reduced visibility remains small. And that is a good thing as running a tender service without seeing anything is not much fun.

 

19 May 2017; At Sea.

The low clouds stayed away, courtesy of colder air blown in with a steady breeze, and as this cooler wind was blowing over colder water, the fog never really could materialize. . It turned hazy but visibility remained more than the minimum 3 miles which meant the bridge did not need to go to battle stations and the captain did not have to get out of bed to pull the fog horn every two minutes. For tonight the same wind is expected and thus the Maasdam should reach Boston with everybody having a quiet night.

The route we have to take after the New York pilot station off Sandy Hook goes straight east and then we make a more than 90 degree turn to head North North West towards Boston. Before we get there we have to turn to a straight westerly course again until we come to Boston pilot station. If there would be a big enough canal between New York and Boston, the ship could have done it in a few hours, now it will take a day and two nights, although we are not going at full speed.

We used to go full speed in the old days and often that meant we could wriggle in another port call along the way. Now we offer the guests a quiet sea day as we try to conserve as much fuel as possible (which keeps the ticket price down) but also because we sail through Whale territory. The moment the ship has passed the Coney Island area there are whales. Whatever the world is doing to make the whales habitat better, seems to work as we see more of them every year. Because we do not want to bump into them we have to reduce speed. Preferably to 10 knots or less if there seems to be a danger of getting a close encounter. No problem to do so but it can play havoc with a cruise schedule if the average speed has been set too high. So the company has worked “whale speed” in their cruise schedules and that makes the life of all of us a lot easier.

Between New York to Boston we basically pass through two whale areas. East of New York you see all sorts of whales and once getting closer to Boston we sail through the habitat of the Right Whale. During the morning we saw several whales sedately moving along on the starboard side of the ship and it took me a while to recognize the species. Most of the time you see humpback whales which are very easy to recognize as they have that hump and their tail comes out of the water often even when they are not engaged in acrobatics. This one was not doing this and also I did not see a dorsal fin. Plus the exhaust air plum was not distinct, but fuzzy. That meant that it could only be a Gray Whale and that is fairly unusual as there are only about 25000 of them around.

The whale we are very concerned about is the Right Whale. There are only about 400 left and one of their habitats is an area south east of Boston. As they do not pay any attention and or react to noise or vibration of ships they have a much higher chance of being hit. During the day we can keep a look out for them but during the night that does not work and thus sailing at a slower speed is the best preventive option we can take. To make things complicated this area is very busy with commercial traffic, so much that the IMO (International Maritime Organization) has imposed highways at sea here, or Vessel Traffic Separation schemes. Thus east and west bound ships are in separate lanes and when coming to a cross roads there we have a round-a-bout to prevent collisions.

With so many ships around and so few Right Whales the USCG has a broadcast and monitoring center in the area with mandatory reporting and announcements about sightings. If one ship sights a whale then the rest is being alerted and can exercise extra caution.

Tomorrow morning the Maasdam will dock in Boston at the Falcon terminal and she will be behind the Veendam, her sister ship. Arrival should be between 0700 and 0800 and we will have a partial disembarkation / embarkation of about 700+ guests. On departure the ship will have a full house with close to 1250 guests on board.

Weather in Boston, same as in New York, warm and sunny.

18 May 2017; New York, USA.

And thus real life began again. Yours truly arrived last night in the Big Apple and joined the ship today. This time I stayed in a hotel in Jamaica which is part of Queens and thus had an 80 minute taxi trip to make to get to the ship. On normal days that takes about 25 minutes but Queens has a bottle neck where all the roads are coming together to go over the bridge into Manhattan. And today it was a bottle with a very loooooooooong neck. Not that I minded this as I had never travelled the whole length of Queens Boulevard and as New York is a true melting port, there is always lots to see. Plus I can now remove one item from my bucket list and that was travelling over the Queensborough Bridge (Also known as Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge). My experience was thus far limited to the Brooklyn Bridge but my New York Bridge’s experience has now increased by 100%. Next to this bridge are cast iron pillars located for a cable car crossing but I did not see any cable cars so I have the impression that it is not operational.

New York Cruise Terminal just after departure. to the left the Crystal Symphony is just visible.

The good ship ms Maasdam was docked in port together with the Crystal Symphony. This ship was on a port call only stop but the Maasdam also had a partial embarkation today with guests coming on board for the Canadian Maritime cruise. They hopped on board in New York instead of having to travel to Boston. In the Boston we will have a change over again with guests finishing their Trans Canal cruise. The Maasdam is coming from the west coast where it also made a South Pacific cruise. Now it will start a series of cruises to Montreal from Boston and back.

Captain Bas van Dreumel, Master ms Maasdam.

The Master of the vessel is Capt. Bas van Dreumel who until recently was on the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. But he has the same take on the job as I have, you have to rotate ships to stay fresh and so he opted for the change of going from the one but newest ship to the oldest one (excluding the Prinsendam) and also a much smaller ship. But smaller ships have a charm of their own and the Maasdam is making some very nice cruise and varied cruises.

I will be on the Maasdam for three weeks, until June 10 and then transfer to the Noordam. (Subject to very much change as usual) During that period I will conduct a number of trainings, run a complete certification course of Lifeboat attendants and carry out some internal audit work for the Captain. In the coming days I will explain what a Lifeboat attendant course is but it involves messing around with boats big time, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather.

Today started well, the weather was almost too nice. 97oF with only later in the day a bit of S/E wind picking up. If that continues then I will be a happy camper, but my colleagues on the bridge will not.  Sunshine means very low clouds when in open sea and the whole area from New York to Boston to the St. Lawrence River is prone to a lot of fog if the weather is nice. The combination of warmer Gulf Stream water to the South, cold water to the North and warm air above land can create dense fog, very dense fog.  For the guests normally not much of a problem, unless you bought a cabin right under the whistle, as it normally are burns off in port…………. And then it comes back as soon as the ship returns to open water.

World Trade Centre Area. With to the left the Empire State building just visible.

Today we sailed at 17.00 hrs. from the New York cruise terminal. That departure time being important as it is slack water at this time. I always call that “theoretical” slack water, as the time of real slack water seldom is the same as the real moment. But you try to arrive and leave as much as possible on the slack tide when the current is zero or almost zero as otherwise it is a lot more difficult to avoid bumping into the piers located on both sides of the ship.  Today we sailed at slack tide but even then the ship had drifted considerably by the time it was in the middle of the Hudson River where it could swing to the south and head for open sea.

Tomorrow we have a sea day and the weather looks good and if it warms up quick enough, then we should have good visibility and see some wild life. There are normally lots of whales in this area.

Note: the blog still has some challenges so the coming posts will be without photos until this has been corrected.