Thursday, February 21, 2013

Captain's Blog 2/21/13

Leaving on time, and arriving on time - with everyone we leave with -has been my ambition over the years. We have left a day or two late a few times due to mechanical issues, but always arrived as planned. I always dread the weather issues sailing and arriving - we have governing regulations in the Cape Cod Canal, and we have Pilots that have comfort zones in handling the ship while docking - and weather is the largest single factor. I know that adjusting an arrival time can cause many problems for parents planning pick-ups, flight arrangements, and watch schedules. But this one I could not avoid. The winter storm bearing down on southern New England promises some storm-force winds and heavy snow. It looks to be a fast moving storm, but its arrival time and our arrival time overlap.

We will dock on Saturday morning at about 0745 - a day early. When we head north from the Caribbean, the voyage plans always has a weather day built in because we can have our speed of advance knocked down significantly if the ship is plowing into heavy seas and strong winds. With the exception of the rough weather in Windward Passage, the weather has been very good. We purposely kept a slightly slower pace to not run up into a low pressure center, and we watched a developing low over the southern states. We have been able to slip in between the two. But we are not there yet, and we are bound to catch some of it. Since we have been blessed with decent weather we have the ability to arrive a day early. This is a better alternative than planning on Sunday morning and then having to cancel it for a Monday docking.

This is not devoid of problems - we will now have to do customs/immigration clearance of the ship at the dock on Saturday - causing a delay in cadets being released on liberty. I expect that if we get the gangway down at 0815, we can probably have the whole crew cleared by around 1100. Then we will have to ensure that the berthing compartments are cleaned and departing cadets have not left too much trash in their wake. I know that Admiral Gurnon will have the Pande Dining Hall open for coffee and warmth. Hopefully most cadets will be well on their way before the weather deteriorates by mid afternoon.

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