Wednesday, January 14, 2015


14 January 2015

An airline pilot might relate his flying experience as being hours of boredom punctuated by moments of excitement. A ship’s mate has the same experience, but everything is significantly slower – where it is often days of boredom by an hour of excitement. Since departing the Cape Hatteras area two
days ago we have not seen a ship, yet since this morning seven ships have crossed our course. The activity is predictable really as we intersect with ships coming and going from Europe, to and from the Gulf of Mexico, as they use the Northwest Providence Channel that breaks the Bahama Bank
apart. Using the Channel, where the easternmost end is called the “Hole in the Wall”, helps the ships avoid the northern currents of the Gulf Stream, and shorten the voyage by at least a hundred miles.

I am pleasantly surprised by the weather so far this voyage. We've only encountered one day of Beaufort Force six winds, and rain. Overall the winds have been very moderate, keeping the sea and swell down to minimum levels for an ocean passage. This has made the initial seagoing experience for our new seafarers, called youngies, devoid of sea sickness. This is a good thing as they have now been acclimated to the motion of the ship and even if we experience some nasty seas they will probably never get sick.

It is over 70 degrees with light airs out of the south this morning. The sky is still cloudy yet rain is unlikely. Breaks in the clouds have allowed the navigators to grab bearings of stars to ascertain the accuracy of our compasses, and now that sunrise has occurred, we’ll see the First Class cadets out there sighting the sun for the cherished “sun line”. Of course we know where we are by receiving GPS signals, but learning and becoming proficient in celestial navigation remains a foundation skill for all ocean navigators.

So we can predict a sunnier day today, and well into February – break out the sunscreen!

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