Day 077: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Day 077: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

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Day 076: Pacific Ocean

Day 076: Pacific Ocean

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Day 075: Panama Canal, Panama

Panama-Centennial-Bridge

Centennial Bridge, Gaillard Cut, Panama Canal

The anticipation which has dominated the last few days has given way to what could be described as a perfect morning. Gazing southeast from our anchorage across a mirror-like sea, the port of Colon at the northwestern terminus of the Panama Canal is before us. Mist rises from the golden surface, promising a tropical steam bath on an already hot day. A flock of pelicans flies below in perfect V-formation. Their wing tips gently tease ripples from the surface as if taunting the waters in their stillness, looking for fish. Aside the muted morning sounds of a working ship in the tropics, it is purely quiet and serene.

But this is not to last. We catch sound of a whistle. It comes from a small black and white boat and signals the arrival of the canal pilot. She embarks by accommodation ladder on the starboard side and moves purposefully to the bridge. Her job is to direct our crew during every minute of today’s eight hour transit to the Pacific. It is disappointing not to stop today for a visit to Cristobal or Balboa, to walk The Bridge of The Americas or to sample the local empanadas, yuca frita or sancocho stew. A Canal transit is all business.

Placed in service in 1914, 2013 completes the Canal’s 100th operational year. We are one of almost a million ships to make the transit in that time. As an engineering achievement The Panama Canal is often considered one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world. High elevation runoff feeds the central Gatún Lake. That runoff is emptied in both directions through three sets of locks, first raising us through Gatún, then lowering again through Pedro Miguel and Milaflores.

Isthmus of Panama

Isthmus of Panama

After today we are only 30 days from completing this voyage. Western North America, Hawaii and the islands of the South Pacific are still ahead. But today we took a shortcut around South America. And we find ourselves thinking of home.

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Day 075: Panama Canal (SPECIAL)

Hello everyone. Please watch us LIVE on August 2nd as we transit the Panama Canal from Atlantic to Pacific.

http://www.pancanal.com has the live cameras.

Michelle and Ed at the Centennial Bridge marking the Continental Divide, Panama Canal.

Michelle and Ed at the Centennial Bridge marking the Continental Divide, Panama Canal.

Hope you get to “see” us!

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Day 073: Curaçao

Day 073: Curaçao
Status: In Port

From the Navigator
Throughout the night we will proceed at slow speed, firstly on a southerly heading before altering to an easterly heading as we make progress toward Curacao We will be embarking our pilot at 0600 who will be assisting us as we maneuver toward the quay. On departure that afternoon, once all departure checks are complete we will thrust the ship off the berth before turning the bow to starboard before setting an initial west north westerly course as we commence our passage toward the Panama Canal.

Two Caribbean islands in two days? Yes please! The remnants of tropical storm Dorian have kicked the easterly trade wind into high gear as we approach Willemstad.

An unsettled sky looking north from our berth just west of the Willemstad harbor entrance.

One of the locals was on hand to greet our arrival in Curacao. These lizards look very funny when they tuck their hind feet up on their backs to keep them from roasting on the heated pavement.

One of the local Coast Guard helicopters. They can probably circle the island a couple times on a single “bag” of fuel.

A pleasant place to consume a frozen drink of your choosing.

The backside of the local “floating market”. The Venezuelan boats arrive from the South American mainland every morning with produce and trade goods for the market. Then the vendors come ashore from the quay wall for sales to locals and tourists alike who browse from the sidewalk.

Yes, your intrepid travelers always try to get ashore for a high speed WIFI connection. And of course a few relaxing moments away from the ship.

This island upheld the promise of all Caribbean Islands – sun, sand, surf and suds. Come visit, soon!

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Day 072: Oranjestad, Aruba

Day 072: Oranjestad, Aruba
Position: N º ‘ ”  W º ‘ ”
Weather: ºC wind kts, waves m
Last Port: New York City, USA
Next Port: Curaçao
Status: In Port

From the Navigator

Love this sign!

A typical front yard on the island of Aruba.

Nice matching paint job for the Aruba license place. Certainly One Happy Island!

Inside the fort dedicated to Willem III. Aruba is known for their production of aloe even though the plant is not native, having been introduced from Africa.

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Day 071: Caribbean Sea

Day 071: The Caribbean Sea
Position: N 15º 55′ 45″ W 072º 50′ 24″
Weather: 29ºC wind north 31kts, waves 4m with whitecaps
Last Port: New York City, USA
Next Port: Oranjestad, Aruba
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
Early this morning we will enter the Caribbean Sea and head south east toward the Dutch Antilles and the island of Aruba, our next port of call.

Sunset in the Caribbean

Sunset in the Caribbean

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Day 069: Atlantic Ocean

Day 069: Atlantic Ocean

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Day 068: Atlantic Ocean

Day 068: Atlantic Ocean

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Day 067: New York City, USA

Entering New York Harbor

Entering New York Harbor

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

Moving west across the Atlantic Ocean, the prevailing westerlies blowing off North America bring you land smells a full day before the watch above calls “land ho!” We have been underway for over two months and the sounds and smells of the ship are completely routine and therefore unremarkable.  So too the bland and unaccented smell of ocean, salt spray and moisture. And so you smell New York City before you see it.

This must have been the case one hundred years ago as immigrants completing the last wave of the European diaspora arrived in New York harbor. Back then a crossing by steam took between 9 and 15 days. Most passengers made the passage berthed in steerage, a miserable experience. Yesterday’s storm has left many of our companions a bit green around the gills, regardless of the relatively luxurious modern accommodations. Even six days at sea has heightened our yearning for the land.

Tides and harbor traffic require an early arrival. We are up before the sun and on deck to face a brisk northwesterly wind, belying the calendar’s midsummer date. A near-full moon still hangs in the sky. And then we see it: the Verrazano Narrows spanned by an impressive multi-level bridge. Golden mist begins to rise, revealing dozens of cargo ships at anchor on the western edge of Upper New York Harbor. The city itself appears through the same mist. Our approach makes the skyscrapers appear to rise from the water, pushed upward by sheer willpower, ambition, energy and money. Home to the United Nations headquarters, New York City has been called “the capital of the world”. The city presents to us this morning a skyline worthy of that title.

Although we were among the first up, the decks are now filled with sightseers. Most lean out and strain forward, striving to be first to sight the Statue of Liberty. “There she is!” cries one excited teenage girl, and she’s right. The statue grows larger and more distinct against taller but less glamorous buildings along the Hudson River’s west bank. A brilliant yellow morning sun catches the gold-leafed torch, held aloft in the statue’s right hand. A wave of excitement, an eery feeling of shared history and pride sweeps over us. Several of our own ancestors must have experienced this very sight, shortly before immigration processing at Ellis Island. That facility is still there, a reminder of a dynamic time of change, hardship and opportunity. We hope the United States, as represented by this one iconic copper colossus, can remain a beacon of freedom for the people of the world.

Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision. ~ Ayn Rand

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Day 066: Atlantic Ocean

Day 066: Atlantic Ocean
Position: N 40º 35’ 24” W 068º 55’ 31”
Weather: 22ºC wind 15kts, waves 3m
Last Port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Next Port: New York City, USA
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
We will continue on a west south westerly course throughout today through the North Atlantic as we start making our approach to the eastern coast of the United States and Cape Cod.

Eight days at sea, and I yearn for the land. Ed and I love sailing into New York Harbor. We met there, and after college I worked in Tower One of the World Trade Center. For me, coming here is coming home. Tomorrow I will be back, and I can’t wait. I am not alone in these thoughts. Excitement is building throughout the ship, and the passageways are filled with suitcases. Everyone is up early. Coffee in hand, our regular “breakfast club” members discuss the daily riddle: “The ruler of shovels, with a double, as thin as a knife, with a wife.” Possible answers are all over the map.
Honoring a longtime transatlantic tradition, the passengers stage an afternoon talent show for the crew. I sing with the choir, performing “An American Trilogy”, and as a service veteran, Ed helps fold a giant U. S. flag. Following dinner we are treated by the galley team to another extravagant end-segment tradition: a massive pastry buffet and Baked Alaska for dessert.

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Day 065: Atlantic Ocean

Day 065: The Atlantic Ocean
Weather: 20ºC wind 15kts, waves 3-4m
Last Port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Next Port: New York City, USA
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
Throughout today we will maintain a west south westerly course as we continue our passage to New York and proceed down the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

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Day 064: Atlantic Ocean

Day 064: The Atlantic Ocean
Weather: 17ºC wind 15kts, waves 4-5m
Last Port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Next Port: New York City, USA
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
Throughout the morning we will continue on our south westerly course across the North Atlantic and later we will alter our course to the west south west as we pass 14 nautical miles north of the site of the Titanic. We will continue on a west south westerly course as we pass south of the Grand Banks of the coast of Newfoundland.

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Day 063: Atlantic Ocean

Day 063: The Atlantic Ocean
Weather: 15ºC wind 20kts, waves 4m
Last Port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Next Port: New York City, USA
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
We will continue on our transatlantic crossing throughout today maintaining a south westerly course. Transatlantic travel played a major role in the expansion of western civilization into the Americas, and the Atlantic separates the “Old World” from the “New World”. In modern times, the Atlantic is referred to as the Pond and many British people refer to the US and Canada as “across the pond”, and vice versa.

All our courses are drawn in advance on our electronic and paper charts by the ship’s navigator, an one of the main duties of the Officer of the Watch on the bridge is to make sure that the ship is following these tracks. A nautical chart is a representation on a plane of an area of a spherical surface, the Earth, for use for navigational purposes In general terms, two types of charts are produced for navigational use: Mercator charts (on which rhumb line courses appear as straight lines) and gnomonic charts (on which great circles appear as straight lines). A chart is essentially a map of sea area, showing on it any coastlines, rocks, buoys, lighthouses and other prominent features, the characteristics of all lights and depths of water. On board the ship we have over 700 paper charts covering the regions around the world where the ship is sailing.

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Day 062: Atlantic Ocean

Day 062: The Atlantic Ocean
Weather: 14ºC wind 25kts, waves 2m
Last Port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Next Port: New York City, USA
Status: At Sea

From the Navigator
We will continue on a south westerly course throughout today as we continue across the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is named after the Greek mythical god Atlas making the Atlantic the “Sea of Atlas”.

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