The first week back is typically the most brutal in terms of adjustment to new sleep patterns, stress levels and physical exertion when compared to the leisurely pace of life I lead vacationing ashore. That said I couldn't be happier to have returned to the same job on the same ship with mostly the same crew; the systems and procedures we've all ready implemented in addition to the improvements we've made in the ship is paying off in a safer, simpler and more organized operation.
We've left the Gulf of Mexico and called on our first east coast port leaving four more to go. I'm also pleased that a nearly full load of automobiles, heavy machinery and containers awaits us on the docks of Savannah, Baltimore, Wilmington and Charleston. An underutilized cargo ship leaves more than just myself in a strange funk when steaming across an ocean.
Along with the engine and stewards departments the watch standing AB's still due to get off did an excellent job this past trip. I'm sorry to see them go especially since every time a new crew member signs on it's a roll of the dice. Save for watches will they stay in their room or come out for overtime? Are they the kind of people you'd like to spend a four hour bridge watch with or are they complete sociopaths? Are they "able bodied" seamen or are they a health hazard to themselves and potentially their shipmates? You never really can tell until the ship has sailed and any chance of replacement has faded over the transom.
There was a great sunset this evening. An expansive bank of cumulonimbus hid the sun until just before setting. The scene was beautiful but the inherent atmospheric instability of such a cloud formation is not. The marine forecast is for 20-25 knots out of the southwest by the early morning when I come back on watch. Picking up a pilot at four in the morning and making our way 25 miles up a winding river with more sail area than any clipper ship should make for a riveting start to a very busy day.