Sunday, June 22, 2008

The first days of summer

It looked like a lovely day in Boston yesterday from the satellite
newspaper the Captain puts on the intranet for us. Highs in the
eighties, plenty of sun, a nice reminder that summer has officially just
begun. A few thousand miles away in between the Azores and the Flemish
Cap it's a different start to summer. Weather at sea has a way of
sneaking up on you. Two days ago the weather program we use for our
voyage routing was predicting 10 knots of southerly wind for today but
the weather report I just submitted to NOAA reported an observed wind of
30 knots with gust up to gale force. It's still a mild day for the North
Atlantic. Five degree rolls and sloppy summer weather is nothing
compared to the hurricane force winds and freezing spray of January. The
bridge is creaking though every time we heel over and our chances of a
Sunday barbecue and pool party are greatly diminished. It's ironic that
I often would get bored of the empty blue sky and the still blue water
we would encounter day in and day out while steaming to and from the
Middle East. Now that I'm on a liner run in the North Atlantic it's very
possible that summer and winter will consist of gray skies and gray seas
more often than any other kind of weather.

If you are interested in following the ship's track (I
think that's it) will let you check out reported AMVER positions. Just
input the call sign WGAX to find us. We've been diligent about reporting
weather while at sea but will NOT once along the coast of Europe. Too
much traffic and not enough time.

We had a sanitary inspection last week. This is mandated as a monthly
event by the United States Coast Guard and is required to be entered
into the Captains Official Log Book. This was the first time I had seen
one actually carried out at work and it was a bona fide inspection in
every since of the word. The Captain thoroughly went through every cabin
with tape recorder in hand making audio notes on missing garbage cans,
broken door handles, and shower mold. He inspected the changing rooms,
the gym, the passageways, the offices and lastly the galley.  On my last
ship departing crew members routinely would leave their room trashed for
the next guy. This captain personally checks up on each room monthly so
that this would be impossible here. On top of that the company is so
concerned about a MRSA outbreak onboard their ships that a new policy is
being cooked up where every time a cabin in turned over to a relief it
must be disinfected with Lysol. Having had an experience onboard a cramp
and dank schooner with a student getting a skin infection that turned
out to be MRSA I can appreciate borderline obsessive compulsive
sanitation for the sake of health at sea.

A bit of comic relief occurred this morning when one of the watch ABs
insisted on running the window washing sprinklers in the middle of the
aforementioned rainstorm to get the bridge windows squeaky clean. It was
a laughable reminder that plenty of us who put to sea are a few beers
short of a six pack. 

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