Indeed the weather did follow the forecast and after midnight wind and waves started to calm down. By 05.00 the wind velocity was down from 40+ to less than 20 knots and the combined wave and swell height reduced from 27 feet to less than 16 feet. So we could sail. By 05.30 we had our pilot on board and I could then back the Statendam out of the slip. Goodbye Seward, until next season. This is our last Alaska cruise of the season, 7 days southbound to Vancouver. Then we start our 14 day Panama Canal cruises again from San Diego until the end of November. Followed by a 30 day Hawaii and South Pacific cruise which will last until December 21st. Still that is still a long time away, first we have to deal with the autumn weather of The Gulf of Alaska and South East Alaska.
During our day at sea, the weather got even better than predicted and the wind fell almost way to nothing. Only the long ocean swell remained causing the ship to remain lively at times. We had 16 feet waves ¾ on the beam and that meant that it was not just rolling (mostly compensated for by our stabilizers) but also the occasional pitching (up and down of the bow) but a combined movement. Nothing serious but enough to be happy to know that there are railings in the corridor. Still the guests had had a good night sleep while we stayed alongside, so everybody was in a good mood.
Including me, as I did not have to deviate from my course. If the swells are very high, then it is good seamanship to stay in deep water; e.g. anything over 50 meters. On this run we pass two shallow area’s of less than 50 meters. One is south of Prince William Sound near Middleton island and the other is right before entering the Inside Passage again near Cape Spencer. There you have the Fairweather grounds. On both banks the swells can really build up and if a full gale is blowing I prefer to go around them. Today the storm had blown itself out so much that we could stay on our “nice weather” track.
With the weather behaving itself nicely, the ships program could run on normal routine with a full daily program. Except that we had to empty the swimming pools as the sloshing from side to side caused too much water to spill over the edge and onto the deck. With the ship rolling lightly, the water in the swimming pools starts to move from side to side as well. As it cannot go very far before hitting the side of the pool and bouncing back, it gets into a sort of pendulum movement which results in the pool waves getting higher and higher. After a few minutes the combined crest spouts up like a surf breaker and can easily hit the underside of the Magrodome 6 meters above it. To avoid this and the surrounding decks getting too wet, we empty the pools out. One pool is fresh water and the other sea water, so I hope that the chief Engineer has sufficient fresh water spare to fill the pool up again. Once full, the water has to be heated and treated to be in compliance with USPH rules. As that might take longer than 24 hours, we always try to avoid emptying the pools but this time we had no other option.
Behind us the next storm is gathering momentum but it will not bother us for at least another two days. Then when it hits the mainland it might disperse itself, blow itself out, or change direction. If it comes overland it might affect us, but we will not know that until it makes a landfall. Tomorrow we will visit Glacier Bay and we are scheduled to pick up the Rangers at 10 o’clock in the morning. We will spend the whole day in the Bay and return to the Ranger station at 19.00 hrs. With the storm out of the way, we should have a quiet day there. Maybe even a sunny day.