I have been spending some time working, (yes, even on leave) and playing with grandchildren.
The ‘work’ involved a week in Holland, Almere to be precise, a town outside Amsterdam, where we have a large Training centre. It is not just HAL who use the facility, all of the brands which comprise the Carnival group make use of it too.
In my case, I was attending a course which consisted of further training on ECDIS. Yes, another pesky acronym, (I have challenges remembering them all nowadays); this one being Electronic Chart Display Information System. My officers are all ‘children’ of the Technology age, electronics play a larger role in my profession than I would have ever dreamed of. Position fixing is no longer done by celestial navigation, no ‘shooting’ of the sun and stars using a sextant, instead we use GPS technology; my sextant is now mounted on a wall in my study, a sad end for such a beautiful instrument.
Similarly, paper charts are being phased out, and yes, replaced by ‘electronic’ charts, displayed on a computer screen. Soon gone will be the nostalgic nights perusing those glorious sheets of paper, lovingly surveyed by hydrographers of a bygone age with quaint notes inscribed, such as “here are natives” or “unexplored interior”, for some of them were complied in the 19th century, at least they were in the 70’s, when I started my sea-going career.
I digress, waxing lyrical about those days, for now, although paper will still play a role, electronics is now the primary means of Navigation. As is the case with aircraft, routes and waypoints can be inputted and, if calculated accurately, the means exists for the computers to follow tracks and speeds without human intervention; thankfully they have yet to find a way to ‘park’ it, so I am useful for a few more years. 🙂 There are those who believe that eventually, there will be unmanned ships plying the oceans, ‘docking’ crews boarding when the vessel reaches its intended destination. I refer to Cargo ships of course, Cruise ships may have challenge with that one 😆
My course was more familiarisation with ECDIS, having already spent some time on it last year and, having attained the requisite pass mark, I boarded a ‘puddle-jumper’ at Schipol airport and flew to U.K. to visit Sam and Liz and my lovely grandchildren. Even then there were challenges; I had intended to spend time with them both, however Liz had a stomach bug and, as I was going to be sliced open at the end of the week, (hernia), I stayed with Sam, Liz coming down later when she had recovered.
Sam lives in Southsea, a town close to Portsmouth, which itself is steeped in Naval history. It is the largest Naval base in U.K. and has a wonderful dockyard, full of ships from a bygone age. HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar, HMS Warrior, one of the first armour-plated, iron hulled warships; the “Mary Rose”, a Tudor ship, built in 1510. In service for 34 years. She sank in 1545 and was re-discovered in 1971; these but a few of the exhibits and, as always, I try to see it every time I visit.
I was fortunate, insomuch that Sam has a thriving language school. (www. southseahouseofenglish.com). ‘School’ is not quite the term I should use, as pupils stay with her and the family, improving their English, (Sam is multilingual). Fortunately she had no pupils (a rare occurrence), during the time I was there, otherwise she would have been busy-busy. The children grow so fast, they change each time I see them and I leave you with some photos of them.