I’ve been holding off posting because I’ve been kinda busy lately. My boat has been assigned a new run that transits the coast from New York to Fort Lauderdale, then to Baltimore via Chesapeake Bay and back to New York. The trip is just over twenty-one hundred sea miles and covers offshore and inland routes. The one thing that was surprising was how easy it became getting used to the absence of internet and phone contact. It’s not so great that I can’t speak to the Missus everyday (something I’ve really gotten used to) but it’s not too awful bad being away from civilization for a bit of time. We have a couple of communication blackouts on the way that last from one to two days at a time. The watch is busy and the time goes by.
It’s really a beautiful trip even though the weather can make things a bit interesting. In my career I have been working the New York Harbor and New England ports as far north as Bucksport Maine and south to Norfolk Virginia, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and River. Lots of nice little runs that were just long enough. In the last three months I’ve been past Cape Hatteras 7 times. The last few months have been interesting in another way, I’m getting a taste of what my deep sea brethren experience, but on a much smaller scale.
We’re seeing how very alive the ocean is and have had quite a few “escorts” along the way. We’re seeing the US military conducting practice runs using all kinds of equipment and have been treated to a couple of high speed “fly-bys” courtesy of the US Navy.
We’ve been getting a taste of the Florida sun while the Northeast is still being gripped by the last gasps of winter. Of course there wasn’t really all that much basking going on to speak of, we’re under 200 gross tons and that means 6 hour watches are the rule. Work the watch, catch some sleep, work the watch again, every day. At the end of two weeks we’re ready to head for home. The round trip without delays amounts to about eleven days or so, delays can add a certain tension as crew change approaches.
We’ve been fortunate that the schedule hasn’t been upended all that much, but it evens out eventually. I don’t really worry about crew change until I can determine with some certainty that we’ll be local or not.
Trying to catch a connecting flight dragging a sea bag and brief case has taught me to travel lighter than I’m used to. A good backpack can carry everything I need without having to check a bag. If I have to go to a different vessel, I have enough to keep clothes on my back and brush my teeth for the duration.
By the way, we have a new system on board, “WxWorx on Water” by XM Radio. This little device connects via usb cable to the boat’s laptop and collects weather data from a satellite system that allows us to look at weather buoys and reports anywhere we wish. It takes the guesswork out of the coast run by giving us real time data along the route. Satellite photos, fronts, waves, wind, even what fish are being caught along the way. Nice. It’s not like a true weather fax, but it’ll do. I’d rather read the professional estimate of expected weather than to try to make a determination based on isobars and wind feathers alone. I’d recommend this system without reservation to anyone making extended voyages. The weather radar and buoy features alone make it worth the price.
That’s it for now, getting underway from Baltimore for New York, damn it’s chilly up here…..