Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
We arrived in Roseau, Dominica, on time, embarking the local pilot just after 11 a.m and docked by 12 o’clock. The Noordam is on the main berth, so we were assigned the ‘commercial’ dock, a little further out from town, however a reasonable place to be. It’s warming up (considerably), 85F or 29C today. The mountains inland have cloud cover, very similar to many of the Caribbean islands and no doubt up there, it’s more akin to a tropical rain forest.
The inevitable straw market is in the shed at the end of the gangway, no avoiding it as guests walk by to the taxis and mini-buses (that, no doubt, is the intention of the exercise).
I have commanded azipod drive ships for the past 10 years, however the “Amsterdam” is different. Although she was the first of our vessels to have azipods, they are configured differently to our other vessels. I have been used to being able to use both azipods at the same time; on the “Amsterdam”, one has to choose which one you’re going to need to dock (this is the one which can swing in a complete circle, while the other remains fixed). It takes some getting used to. I don’t know whether there’s any truth in the story, but I am told that only one pod can be used rotationally because it was thought that the Captain (or whoever was handling the ship) would be confused if he had two to ‘play with’! Perhaps I’ll never know, however, pods were in their infancy when she was built, so there may be another reason. There is an alternative, that is to use the ‘joystick’; this is an instrument which controls azipods and thrusters in one polar ‘stick’ and by adjusting the angle of the joystick one can ‘play the piano with 1 finger’ instead of having to use both hands.
The additional benefit is that both pods rotate, therefore giving you far more control. When conditions permit, this is the favoured method of handling her. We sail on time, a balmy evening and smooth seas, on our way towards Bridgetown, Barbados.
Captain Mercer is at the helm of Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage.