HAL blogger Gary Frink is currently sailing on board Oosterdam’s Mexican West Coast Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout his time on board.
Another Holland America voyage, another rescue at sea. Some readers might remember that this year Jeanne and I were aboard the Amsterdam during the Singapore to Seattle leg of the Holland America Grand World Voyage and a young passenger fell seriously ill. The ship had to divert course in order to bring the ship within round trip range of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. The helicopter was escorted by a C-130, a four engine cargo plane, which circled continuously, until a Coast Guard crewman was lowered to the bow deck from the hovering chopper, the patient secured in a basket gurney and crewman and patient winched up and into the helicopter. Some of us were able to photograph the dramatic scene from the Crow’s Nest.
This morning, shortly after six a.m. and to our amazement, Captain Jeroen Baijens announced on the public address system that, for the Frinks at least, the Coast Guard rescue epic was being repeated, this time along the Mexican Pacific Coast. Today, the rescue chopper arrived sans the C-130, hovered beside the port bow, moved in to lower a crewman, circled the ship while the patient was being prepared for the lift to the helicopter, pulled crewman and patient into the chopper and then was quickly on its return to San Diego.
“Just think of it,” Jeanne said. “All of the voyages we have taken and we never encountered an at-sea rescue; now there are two in a row.” For me, these two incidents underline how Americans, and all of the Judeo-Christian cultures, value human life. In each case, immense risk was undertaken by the Coast Guard helicopter crews and untold private and public funds were expended to do all that could be done to save a single life. As Captain Baijens explained before today’s rescue operation and later, “Holland America’s chief concern is for the safety and welfare of its passengers and crew.” That maxim applies in spades to the men and women of the U. S. Coast Guard.
Tonight is the first formal night on this seven day San Diego to San Diego Oosterdam Mexican West Coast cruise. Our traveling party, Jeanne, her brother Jim, and his wife, Jill and I will get all gussied-up, but I left my tux, tux shirts and shoes at home; just too much “stuff” to haul around for two formal nights on a seven day cruise.
We had a couple of glitches during our first 24 hours aboard the Oosterdam, but Julie, a supervisor in the Front Office, smoothed them out quickly and with a smile.
I received a phone call this afternoon, and the young woman asked me: “Mr. Frink, have you received your Holland America 100 day bronze medal yet?” I informed her in the negative, and she told me that Jeanne and I will be recognized for our years of Holland America voyages tomorrow morning at the Mariner’s brunch. It occurred to me that some our fellow passengers on the 2010 Grand World Voyage earned their bronze metals in a single year.