Saturday, January 29, 2011

Captain's Blog 1/29/11

Really, really nice weather - finally! Yesterday was the best day yet, and today shows signs of a repeat. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking that we should get similar weather until we leave San Juan on St. Valentine's Day. Light winds from the east, 85 degrees, just a few clouds, and a slight sea. It's like a seagoing heaven.

Not necessarily because of the fine weather, but more because we are required to demonstrate certain lifesaving equipment, we did our annual demonstrations of pyrotechnics yesterday. The ship and all our lifeboats are equipped with three forms of pyros:  parachute flares, hand flares and orange smoke bombs. Additionally the ship is equipped with a 'line throwing appliance'. Of course, like any piece of equipment involving renewable substances, they expire. So one day each cruise we usually have the younger mates - they're expendable (it's a joke!), put on fireman's jackets and blast off the expired pyrotechnics.

The hand flares (designed to assist rescue from aircraft) are the least exciting. The the parachute flares (designed to assist rescue from surface ships) are pretty cool as they shoot up about 300 meters and slowly float to the sea surface. We don't actually light off the orange smoke because it might be visible to aircraft outside our communications realm, so it could be interpreted as an actual emergency signal.

We save the rocket line throwing equipment for last. These canisters are loaded with a rocket that has a line attached. Once activated, the rocket blasts at least 1,000 feet away. This would be used to make a line connection between our ship and another, or from a stranded vessel to the shore. 99% of the cadets and crew witnessed the demonstrations, and I am pleased to report we still have all three of our young third mates!

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