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    Re: Planning a blue water CN cruise/holiday
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2004 Oct 21, 11:09 +0000

    A good travel agent should be able to give you a list of freighters
    which carry paying passengers. The only time I have investigated that
    option was when moving to Canada way back in 1977. At that time, only
    one line would take passengers between Europe and Canada -- they were
    ore carriers hauling iron ore from the Quebec North Shore to Rotterdam.
    (I ended up crossing on the QEII instead. She had low student-standby
    fares in those days.) I expect that there is still a database of such
    voyages but I cannot confirm it.
    However, I suspect that you will need a captain who is supportive of an
    amateur practising skills that the ship's officers remember as central
    to their profession but rarely use. If you can find someone sufficiently
    interested in your endeavours, you will likely also have found a captain
    who would take you aboard even though his ship does not routinely take
    passengers. (Though insurance considerations, labour organizations,
    company policies and much else now restrict the flexibility that
    captains once enjoyed.)
    Another alternative would be to volunteer for a trip on a Department of
    Fisheries & Oceans research vessel. They are more picky than they used
    to be about who they will take but you might find a way to get accepted
    for a survey of the Gulf waters around PEI. The down sides would be
    frequent course changes confusing your DR plot and the requirement to
    stand two 6-hour watches per day helping process the catch. That would
    cut into your time for taking sights.
    Another suggestion (and one I am seriously considering for the near
    future) would be to take a trip on one of the "tall ships" (a horrible
    term!). Those take trainees as fo'c'sle hands and do not expect them to
    navigate, nor is there necessarily much space for chart work. However,
    most of them do not demand that their trainees do anything in
    particular, so if you want to spend your day taking sights you likely
    could. With a bit of luck, the officers would be supportive enough to
    feed you the DR information you would need. You would, of course, need
    to select the right ship and you would also need to choose a blue-water
    voyage. (Most "tall ships" hug the coast because they make their money
    by showing up in ports, not by spending time at sea.)
    Right about now, "Europa" is making a 10-week voyage from Atlantic
    Canada to Ushaia, the southernmost port in Argentina. That would have
    made for a great CN experience, though a long time to abandon job and
    family. During the southern summer, she is set to go from Ushaia to Cape
    Town via the Antarctic peninsula, South Georgia and Trista da Cunha in 7
    weeks. Sometime soon, "Stadt Amsterdam" (a near-copy of "Cutty Sark")
    should be crossing from the Netherlands to the Caribbean, returning from
    some port in New England next spring. The return trip shouldn't take
    more than 3 weeks (the record under square rig is about 12 days).
    "Kruzenshtern", the big Russian four-master, does a couple of round
    trips to the Canaries each year, taking (I think) a month or so each way
    from some port in western Europe.
    Or you can search the Web for "crew wanted" listings for yachts doing
    ocean crossings.
    The limitation of any or all of these, of course, is that you won't
    really be navigating: the safety of the vessel will not depend on on
    your skills and judgement, so you can go through the routine of making
    your sights and plotting them up but it will only be a routine, missing
    much of the finer points of the real thing. As pilots say of landing a
    simulator instead of an aeroplane -- it's about as exciting as kissing
    your own sister.
    Trevor Kenchington
    P.S.: On a practical note, you wrote:
    > I would use digital watches that I calibrated on shore for
    > several months prior to leaving on the trip.
    My every-day digital watch maintains a very steady rate at home
    (unfortunately a little faster than it should!) but it seems to gain
    when flying in the reduced pressure of an airliner's cabin -- or maybe
    when exposed to tropical heat after long flights. You may want to
    calibrate your watches across some flights or else get daily checks on
    GPS time (which is no more of a cheat than using radio time signals,
    which were standard for several decades before mid-ocaen radio
    navigation became available).
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus{at}iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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