A busy week on the dredge Stuyvesant

Jan 9, 2008 12:00 AM Ahoy Shipmates!

It's been a busy week here on the Stuyvesant! We are almost always moving, either dredging up and loading sand off the Pearl Islands (where the TV show "Survivor Panama" was filmed, I hear), or discharging our sand load for the container terminal expansion back in Balboa harbor. The dry season here has kicked in. The days are around 95 degrees and sunny, with few clouds. The nights are clear, with a steady 15-25 knot north wind blowing. Last night the stars were especially bright in the winter sky since it was almost a new moon. I stood on the port bridge wing around 0400. Looking to port I saw the Southern Cross, and to starboard could see the North Star. That's something you can't just do anyplace in the world! To me, it's moments like that which make going to sea the special job it is.

Yesterday afternoon I saw something I'd never seen before. Just after we started back with a full load (around 7000 tons) of sand, a group of stingrays flew out of the water at the same time. It was amazing! Their silver backs glistened in the sun as they soared over the blue Gulf of Panama waters, gliding 20 or 30 feet before diving back in.

This morning, as we were docked in Balboa for a few hours to load some gear and pump off slops, I was working on the aft deck when one of the sailors noticed something white floating in the water – right in front of an inbound container ship headed toward the Miraflores Locks. It turned out to be a two-person kayak, tipped over! We watched as the kayakers tried to right it and get out of the way, the container ship getting closer and closer. Finally, just before the ship completed the turn, the two kayakers got back on it. Paddling like their life depended on it (and it just might have!), they barely got out of the way.

Well, it's time for lunch, and it’s cheeseburger day, so I'd better get down there.

Till next time I wish each of you Smooth Sailin' Captain Kelly Sweeney Edit Module