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Around the World with Captain Mercer: Jan. 25-26

Captain Jonathan Mercer

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012:
A long night. We left Buenos Aires on schedule, in windy weather. Friso took her out of the confined harbour, quite a complicated maneuver. The wind was picking up when we left and it continued to increase as we transited the buoyed channel. With the wind and having to slow down to facilitate passing 3 inbound cruise ships at the wider parts of the channel, I was watching the Estimated Time of Arrival slowly creep ominously later and later.

We disembarked our Harbour pilot at La Plata and then the river pilots took over. We would normally disembark them at Recalada pilot station, however, due to the wind and sea conditions, the pilot boat was not going out, so we ‘overcarried’ the Argentine pilots to Montevideo.

As we approached Montevideo, the Argentine pilots were out of their jurisdiction, so conning of the Amsterdam returned to me. Montevideo approach is still on the River Plate and is still shallow, so a buoyed channel leads into the harbour. Two pilots board and we exchange pleasantries, much to my delight, they do not take the con and I continue. An MSC ship is ahead of us and he takes an interminable time docking, her berth is such that her stern blocks the entrance and I use a container ship as a lee from the strong winds, until the gap between the breakwaters is clear.

With the MSC in her berth, the wind and the space where the authorities need us to berth, (for another cruise ship to berth astern of us), the berthing is challenging, however we arrive, albeit an hour late.

We take yet more fuel here, when we leave, our fuel tanks will be full, we need enough to get us to Papeete on the 15th of February. We depart, this time with 15 metres clearance on the bow and stern, no room for moving astern or ahead, so I do it on joystick, one can maintain more precision that way. Once clear of those pesky breakwaters it’s a matter of re-negotiating the buoyed channel, disembarking our pilot and setting courses for the Falkland Islands, 1,050 miles away. Out of the Estuary and, later that night, into the South Atlantic and southerly courses.

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012:
The day dawns bright and clear, although the temperature is slowly dropping. It is in the low 70’s F, or 20’s C, and tomorrow we can expect it to drop into the 60’s.

The remnants of the strong winds that affected us in the river Plate have left a swell running, we are pitching gently in it, however the wind has eased and is below 15 knots.

An abundance of sea birds are an indication of the presence of fish, dolphins are about too and I spot our first Albatross, the wanderers of the southern oceans.

A day of meetings, drill and functions, time to catch up on paperwork after the hectic 48 hours prior. My sister, Joanna, writes to me and suggests that I point out that Captain Jonathan is the one wearing the formal uniform and not the teddy bear … 🙂

Captain Mercer is at the helm of Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage.

5 Comments
  • Sharon

    Thanks for the laugh (Since we are near Disneyland, we knew who Duffy was). Wish we were traveling with you again. Enjoy our time with you on the Statendam and hope our path will cross again. Thanks ever so much for blogging your adventures around the world.

  • Almuth Ewing

    Capt. Mercer: do you know if you will remain in the World Cruise rotation ? HAL has sent us preliminary World Cruise itineraries for 2014, one of which is quite different from previous ones and would be for us a perfect one, especially with you or Capt Schoonderbeek at the helm. — For the current voyage we wish you the best !

  • Geoffrey D Howe

    As I said some time ago, like many people, we are following with great interest the blogs from Captain Mercer. These are formng our ‘Internet cruise log’. Having added setails of some of the excursions it is getting quite a volume. Please keep the blogs coming. They are most interesting and help us to follow your progress. The mention of limited distance ahead and astern meant that your ‘Joystick’ control allowed you to move the ship sideways. Am I right?.

  • Julie

    From Captain Mercer: Dear Geoffrey, The joystick is all-purpose, it can be used to not only move the ship in any direction at slow speeds, (less than 4 knots is most efficient, above that, the bow-thrusts become less effective), but it also has a ‘Cruise’ mode, which can either act as an auto-pilot (when automatic heading is selected), or as a helm. By turning a mini-wheel, one can alter azipod angle and by moving the polar joystick, one can alter the rpm, (thus the speed). Vessels such as Survey ships can use a joystick to maintain an exact position by receiving a DGPS signal, (super-enhanced, basically) and the instrument will do the rest, maintaining position within less than a metre.. Ours does not receive that enhanced signal and therefore we do it manually. Hope this answers your question! Jonathan

  • Julie

    From Captain Mercer: Hello Almuth. Thank you for the compliment. While it is too soon to know my schedule for next year, I will say that I am enjoying my first Grand World Voyage immensely! Perhaps I’ll see you on board next year. Regards, Jonathan.

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