8th October, 2021
I am not superstitious. However, the ‘misty’ three letter “F-word” is not to be mentioned on the Bridge!
We picked up our Ijmuiden pilot just before 7 o’clock this morning, had a briefing and were updated on conditions in the harbour. Ijmuiden is always tight as a 90 degree swing to port is required 20 meters from the buoy in order to back the ship down to the terminal basin. Our pilot made us aware that visibility was not ideal and that we could expect it to be 400-500 meters. Good enough as that meant I could still see the stern and the pier. My swing reference was the buoy ZK4 with the intention to keep it 20 meters on our starboard side.
Just as we slowed down and started to conduct our swing, the buoy was gone and visibility zero! I could see along the ship’s side, but that was about it. As we were already committed, “blind” navigation it was. Instead of using your eyes, you drive with instruments until you have something to see. We were in no rush. We completed the swing, then started making our way astern slowly, with speed under a knot. As we started coming closer to the edge of the basin Safety Officer Richard, who was down aft on the mooring station, reported that he could see the outline of the pier with visibility of 30 meters. We were in the middle of the basin, just where we wanted to be. Slowly, but surely, we came into our final berthing position. We were only 10 minutes late. We didn’t know that the Cruise Terminal Manager had ordered a drone for our arrival and made a video of our misty manoeuvre.
The mist disappeared shortly after 10 o’clock in the morning and the day turned out beautifully. Noon brought another plaque exchange. It’s nice to feel how welcome we are, with every port official pleased to have us back in service.
Departure was in the hands of Richard, who reversed my drive from this morning. Still tight, but with good visibility. He did well with the same mind-set – slow, safe and under control.
Captain Franko Papić
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