Friday, March 14, 2014

Report # 75 Sailing Towards Colombo, Sri Lanka March 14, 2014 Friday Partly cloudy, 80 degrees

Once again, the day began as any other normal sea day..............warm and sticky with a bit more of a breeze blowing across the decks. We were still on the lookout for those elusive dolphins we had hoped to see. But it was not to be on this trip we guess.

Two talks took place in the Queens Lounge, both dealing with history of the particular area we will be visiting tomorrow. One can never learn too much when you visit a country as diverse and complicated as Sri Lanka, for example. Armed with lots of information can enhance our visit tomorrow, as well as taking the practical hints that Barbara H. offers at her talks.

While reading our books at the aft deck, we had quite a surprise when we all heard a blast, like from a shotgun. How could that be? To make things even more interesting, the Captain and his wife happened to be taking advantage of the warm sun, and were lounging on the opposite side as we were. When we heard the blasts again, and again, we looked his way, and nothing happened. No reaction. Investigating by hanging over the aft railing, we soon spotted what appeared to be some of the crew members using pipe launchers, shooting something. But what??? The more we all looked, we soon discovered that they were launching potato bombs. You know, Idaho potatoes, used as projectiles. We have to admit that the noise it made could be intimidating, and if a potato hit someone, it could cause some damage. During all of this commotion, the Captain never stirred an inch, but later remarked as he was leaving, that the guys were having some fun, and the potatoes were food for the fish. It sure did give us something to talk and laugh about for sure.

Not laughable, was the letter we all got concerning the "piracy" subject. As we suspected, people are getting a little more than concerned about the waters we are traveling through. And with the recent showing of the film that depicted the story of the Maersk Alabama and the capturing of their captain, many questions have been asked as to how safe are we? The answer, according to the letter from Captain Jonathon, stated that the liklihood of us being harassed is extremely low. The Amsterdam is capable of high speeds and has a high freeboard (distance from the waterline to the deck). However, precautions will be there, as they have been on the world cruises ever since the incident in 2009, and perhaps prior to that.

It is good to know that our entire transit is being tracked by experts who can dispatch warships if necessary. We may not ever see them, but they are there. As well as close radar kept on the bridge, we have a security team that will be on 24 hour watch. The ship has four LRADS (Long Range Acoutstic Devices) ready for immediate use. Water hoses are ready for use from the lower decks, and we will soon see the razor wire attached to the lower promenade deck.

There is a drill unique to the unlikely attempted boarding of pirates. We may have a practice of this drill as we sail towards the Seychelles or the coast of Africa.

That gave us lots to talk about at dinner this evening. Well that is, in between eating the bone-in ribeye steaks they served this evening. That was a treat, although, we think this is the new meat that is grass-fed. Yes, it may be healthier, but it is lacking the flavor of corn-fed. Two of our tablesmates, Bill & Marianne, will be off to a 6 day tour of India, and they will be missed.

Tomorrow, we will be in Sri Lanka, and actually going on an organized tour, one that we have done twice in the last couple of years.

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