It always gives a captain a wonderful feeling if the weather is following the weather forecast. It makes you look less of a fool than they guests might otherwise think that you might be. Although we do not mind to be wrong if we predict bad weather and the bad weather does not happen but an accurate prediction during the Voice from the Bridge followed by Mother Nature confirming it can make your day. And now we have the weather doing exactly that. We had the wind from the wrong side yesterday but it kept the clouds away and brought a sunny day and the prediction was that the wind would veer to the north and then to the east. This would happen because of a frontal system coming through that was being pushed away by the Trade Winds. Frontal systems bring rain and this morning between 0900 and 1100 hrs. we had thunder and lightning and rain showers and then the wind indeed changed to the east and all was well in the world. By early afternoon we were back to partly sunny or partly cloudy, whatever you make of it. I think it was partly cloudy as there was still more cloud and blue sky but the sun was out again.
I do not really have to worry about the weather, although I do as it comes natural after so many years at sea, as the real worrying should be done by the ship’s captain. And we have a new one. Captain Colm Ryan went on leave in Ft. Lauderdale and his replacement is Captain Pieter Bant.
He is one of our newer captains but I have known him for a very long time. He will remain on the Veendam for a regular contract and then Captain Ryan will return. Captain Bant replaces Captain Noel O’Drisscoll who is transferring to the Koningsdam as he wanted to have a go at all the new gadgets, which the Veendam does not have.
We have a whole musical “captain” chair happening again due to the introduction of the Nieuw Statendam in December, the retirement of Captain Peter Bos and the passing away of a Seabourn Captain, which caused one of our captains to go over and to take his place.
Although we like a steady Trade Wind in this area as it brings predictable and nice weather; the wrong wind yesterday had one advantage, it gave less adverse current and no adverse wind. Normally we have to push against the Antilles current here (A sort of Northerly brother of the Gulf Stream) but this current gets a lot of its momentum from the Trade Winds which help with pushing the surface water to the North West at a faster rate. When the wind stops, then that momentum reduces somewhat and we notice that in the speed the ship makes. No adverse winds and less opposing currents can quickly give 0.5 knot less friction and 0.5 knots in 24 hrs. is 12 miles and that is with our average speed about 50 minutes of free sailing. The Chief Engineer was smiling today as it helps to stay inside the fuel budget.
This evening we make landfall at Puerto Rico and then tonight we will sail through the Virgin Passage which separates Puerto Rico from the US Virgin Islands. From there we will approach Charlotte Amalie from the West as it is located on the south side of the island in a natural bay. Tomorrow there are only two ships in port and both ships have been assigned to dock at WICO, which is the main pier and the original port of St. Thomas. There is a 2nd cruise berth location in Crown Bay which is used when “downtown” read the WICO pier is full. (West Indian Company) Holland America used to dock there a lot but lately they are sending the very big ones there as it is easier from them to get in and out of.
The other ship is the Silver Wind which is much smaller than the Veendam and as the dock can take 3 mega liners, we will have plenty of room to park ourselves somewhere nice. Where ever we park, there will be plenty of shops to choose from as the whole Havensight area is one big shopping Mall. For the guests it might be positive to have only two smaller ships in as there seems to be a correlation between the height of the price and the number of cruise passengers ashore. I might have a quick look to see if they have re-opened the book shop on the pier as it was closed last year, although book prices do not go up and down with the number of ships coming in. We will be at the pilot station at 07.00 hrs. and should be docked at Havensight 45 minutes later.
Weather for Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy with a regular Trade Wind Breeze and 27oC / 80oF. It should be a good and normal Caribbean day.