- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Page 4 of 216

14 March 2019; Panama Canal, Panama.

It does not happen very often but we made it all the way through the Canal at roughly the times we had on the published schedule. In the past it was sometimes earlier but often later. Often caused by things outside the control of the Panama Canal Authorities (PCA) as ships have a mind of their own and even if they are willing then the people around it might cause a change in the routine. But today we just sailed through as planned following nicely in the convoy that had gathered in the early morning. There were still lots of ships at anchor and those not on a preferential schedule (such as cargo ships) might have to wait up to 40 hrs. The Panama Canal is going through a dry period and thus the Canal is watching its water consumption carefully. Thus the convoy system is rigorously enforced and that means that no water is wasted by having ships go through without re-using the water for a ship right behind. Continue reading

13 March 2019: At Sea.

It is about 500 miles from Punta Arenas to the Panama Canal and that is too much to do during one night. So we have a relaxing day at sea with nice weather and a little bit of following wind which blows along the ship towards the bow. It gives the positive effect (at least for the Bo ‘sun) that the birds cannot land on the forward light mast as the flow is wrong. They keep trying it but time and time again they have to abort as they cannot take in their wings while landing. If they do that, then the lift they normally still have, when going against the wind, is gone at once as it does not push against the feathers but just glances over it and under it. For the bridge team it brings a bit of diversion as the acrobatics are sometimes quite comical. What does amaze us all is that the birds do not seem to remember what happened to them 30 seconds ago. They take off after an aborted landing, swerve out to open sea, and about 30 seconds there comes the new attempt. Which is then aborted again as the wind had not changed. And so it went on and on all day. Continue reading

12 March 2019; Punta Arenas, Costa Rica.

When I was blogging from the Zuiderdam 14 days ago, we called at Puerto Limon Costa Rica; and now we call at the opposite side of the country at Punta Arenas, Costa Rica. Different port but for the rest it is nearly all the same. Costa Rica is not a large country, only 5 million or so inhabitants but it is a well-organized and a very stable country. What the Costa Ricans have realized at a very early stage is that Mother Nature gave them a very rich country and in return they are looking after it very well.  Electricity comes from Hydro Power and Solar Panel farms and the carbon footprint has been greatly reduced by planting a large number of trees. Continue reading

11 March 2019; Corinto, Nicaragua.

We are always a little bit apprehensive when we approach Corinto with a ship. The port of Corinto is reached via a narrow channel about 3 miles long which leads towards the estuary of a river along which the docks are located.  That shallow water poses a problem when there is swell. If a long rolling ocean swell comes in, the waves heighten when they come onto the shallow part. Waves have amplitude which is half under water and half above water, when looking at the mean height. When we see the down part of the wave it is really a hole that is normally filled with water. On very shallow depths, that hole cannot go down. It still has to as the waves roll on. So the whole wave system has to go up.  As a result ocean waves rolling in over shallow coastal areas get higher until they crash on the beach.  (This is the simple explanation, if I have to do it 100% correct, it will take me two pages) You have a similar phenomenon at rivers where there is a bar outside. Such as the Colombia River going to Astoria /Portland or the Garonne River leading to Bordeaux. Continue reading

10 March 2019: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

This is a cargo port and the reason we are calling here is for the tours. Everybody, who goes on tour, disappears into the main land for shore excursions. They are all nearly full day tours and due to the peculiarities of the way the Guatemalans travel on the roads, they are sometimes more than a full day. The tours mainly go to Colonial Antigua which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  Continue reading

09 March 2019; Puerto Chiapas, Mexico.

Puerta Chiapas can be a problematic port due to the swell that can run straight into the entrance. A swell from the West, North West or South West can cause such a surge in the entrance that a ship cannot safely enter. The swell rolls in and bounces back from the Eastern Sea wall and then sometimes bounces back from the Western sea wall as well. The fact that the entrance is barely 35 to 40 feet deep exacerbates the problem even more as the swell energy cannot be absorbed by deeper levels of water. If the swell is high and a ship would go in, it would be exposed to a rolling motion as if you are being rocked in a cradle on steroids. Continue reading

2019 March 08; At Sea.

We are now halfway and have just passed Acapulco. Then this evening we will pass Huatalco followed by the crossing of the Golfo de Tehuantepec. Then by tomorrow morning we will be in Puerto Chiapas. With a wonderful day at sea, low swell, following wind and lots of sunshine, pace on board slowed down considerably and guests were charging their batteries for the two coming ports of Puerto Chiapas in Mexico and Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala. Both ports in the itinerary because of the tours to Maya Ruins, Tropical Forests and old towns. Continue reading

07 March 2019: At Sea.

Today is the first day of two days at sea, as we sail along the Mexican coast. Mexico is a much larger country than a lot of people realize. From San Diego / Ensenada to Puerto Chiapas takes the Volendam 3 days at full speed (21 knots). We are stopping at Puerto Chiapas but that is right on the border with Guatemala so we are keeping the pedal to the metal to maintain the schedule. Which is a challenge as we have the ocean current against us all the way to the Panama Canal. Continue reading

06 March 2019; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California.

I have been coming to Cabo San Lucas since 1982 (First time was with the old Statendam IV) so I have seen it being transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a mega resort. From the occasional cruise ship calling to the row of ships now in port every day. And I have seen it in all the weather variations; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly days.  When I came to the bridge this morning it was overcast and the sea was a flat as a mirror, although it was a wavy mirror as there is always some swell running, but no wind at all. And that is a good start for Cabo San Lucas. As it means that during the day the sun will burn some of the clouds away but some will be left; and there will be some wind later in the day, caused by the warming up of the Mexican mainland, but it has to start from wind force zero and thus the wind will not get to a big momentum. Continue reading

05 March 2019; At Sea.

This cruise is not that spectacular from an itinerary point of view but it is a popular one and we are sailing with a full ship. The cruise gives some ports on the West Mexican coasts which not everybody has seen yet. It gives the Panama Canal which never fails to be interesting. (And I can vouch for that one as I am way over the 100 transits and I still see new things every time). And on the east side the cruise ends with a visit to Half Moon Cay and what better highlight than this to have as a final port of call.

But we are only just starting out with our first day at sea. And although San Diego is right on top of the border with Mexico, we are not experiencing “Mexican” temperatures yet. For Mexican standards it is quite chilly. 16oC / 61oF. and it will remain that way until we are past Cabo San Lucas. Not that we mind because we prefer CSL to be a little bit on the cool side. Cabo is located in a curve behind a protective mountain range which shields the town from the ocean winds. So it can get very warm there. But tomorrow supposed to be just pleasant. Continue reading

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