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DAY 25: At sea, Bering Strait

TIME 2018-09-13 Thursday 2200 (UTC+8)
LOCATION AT SEA, 66 46,7’N / 170 23,2'W

Overcast sky, moderate visibility, vessel moving easily, moderate breeze (S force 4), 8 degrees / 1022 mbar


2904 nm

Today we passed Bering Strait with good thrust from the stern by current and wind. The vessel is doing fine and naturally, there are some normal newbuilding issues as most of the equipment is in use now and we discover some minor mistakes on construction and design. These are small things like wrong opening direction on valves and loose electrical connections. Thinking the size of the project with kilometres of cables and pipes, thousands of bolt connections and countless amount of switchboard connections, it is understandable that some issues were left under the radar. Therefore, the vessel is under the warranty period since she leaves the shipyard. Some things are not minor and require some extra knowledge.

As things might get complicated during the first voyage, it is good practice to make sure your crew is capable to troubleshoot problems with new technology as well. Automation is present everywhere. Nowadays, the crew has to have more knowledge over computer logics than astronomic navigation. We still carry sextants and books for computing position by stars but the real talent of the officers and even ratings must be on the automation side. In this sense, I’m very lucky. The crew is an amazing and good mixture of different backgrounds. I feel very confident that this ship will be filling her duty without question.

Speaking about the crew, the youngest is born 1990 and oldest 1970. That makes the average age pretty young. It can be felt in the atmosphere. Among the crew, one can see that humour is on the same level and matters of interest are on the same basic subjects. Now when enough time has passed since departure and you know your workmates better, for example joking is much easier. When you have a crew with multiple nationalities you need to take into account cultural differences but based on my knowledge, the barriers are usually not between nationalities but between generations. And now I’m not talking about which food you eat or a god you worship but about the things that make you laugh and things that make you angry. Let's say more experienced seafarers have to be treated with a more gentle touch and take consideration more cultural differences compared to youngsters. (30-year-old guys are still youngsters in this business).

I decided to keep ship's time at UTC+8 which equals to Shanghai time zone. It means that here on the “other side of the world” sun is rising at 1 am Ship's time and setting at 3 pm. This somehow looks funny but is not a big deal for seamen. There is a reason for this decision but let me explain the background first. In the Baltic Sea, we use UTC+3 as ship's time and therefore we have to retard time five times if we imagine our journey straight to home via air. Now that we have to first sail to Bering Strait in order to sail around Russia, it means that we have to go quite a lot to the east at the beginning. All the way to here on the other side of the International Date Line. That equals to Alaska time zone UTC-9 (or UTC-12 if you are talking about longitudes). Now as our voyage will pass very high latitudes on westerly courses it means that we are going through longitudes at a very fast pace. This means that the time zones will be also changing very fast as 20 degrees longitude equals to 1 time zone. Then every day at north we would have to change the time at least 2 hours which is not very practical.

Now I could also begin to explain something about great circle navigation but that I’ll save to a later occasion.