Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, 6/17/2011

The paperback version is available
at Hennepin County Library.

More images from the trip!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April update

My book, Freighter Odyssey - Around the World in 130 Days, has been published and submitted to the Library of Congress.

The Rickmers Jakarta is in Asia now. Many of us still follow it each day.

As of 4/24/09, 7:45 PM CST, Passenger George is back home in Singapore.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 130+3 Home

Tuesday, 2/24/2009, partly cloudy and cold.

I got a much needed haircut before 8 am. Next stop was the Lenox Senior Men's weekly breakfast to see friends.

My truck needed 30,000 mile maintenance and an oil change. The dealer took care of that during the middle of the day.

I have opened my email and updated my main web pages, but have much
more work to do. Started working on the Honey-do list, fixing a pipe leak.

My suitcases are unpacked and stored, and the rest of my laundry is washed and put away.

I have found a low cost vanity publisher to print 100 copies of my
blog, so I need to finish editing.

Need to do the taxes and catch up on the snail mail and everything

The freighter cruise has been a great adventure. I enjoyed the trip
very much. I miss the officers and crew, and the stimulating
mealtime converstions with my fellow passengers Dieter and George.
I will continue to follow George's blog.

Day 130+2 Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota

Monday, 2/23/2009, sunny, cold and clear.

Up at 5:45, I continue north. Sometime during the day, I lost one
of my truck keys. Probably left it on a counter somewhere.

Part of I-35 in Kansas is a tollway. The exit to the non-toll road
is not well marked, and I miss it. This is no accident. Kansas
likes it if people stay on the tollway all the waysto Kansas City.

The roads and country are more familiar. North of Des Moines,
there is snow cover on the ground, but the roads are dry. In
northern Iowa, the windmills are turning in the wind, generating
megawatts. I arrived home at 5 pm.

It is nice be home, and my wife is happy to see me a day earlier
than planned. Before bed, I update my computers with security
patches and 41 Windows patches which have accumulated over the last
4 months.

Day 130+1 Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas

Sunday, 2/22/2009, sunny and clear.

Woke at 5:30 am. Drove toward San Antonio to have breakfast with a
Navy friend from VAP 61 squadron on Guam. Ernie met me halfway
between Austin and San Antonio, and paid for breakfast. We ate at
a Cracker Barrel.

I was headed north toward home on I-35 by 9:15 am. Near mile
marker 300, I noticed a collection of nostalgic, old gasoline
station pumps on the east side, rusting away. Just before I left
Texas, I noticed a horse ranch to the east of the freeway. One
side of the entry gate was a large red brick structure in the shape
of a horse's head.

Even with the low oil prices, I noticed that oil pumps were still
pumping in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. While I was gone, gasoline
in Texas was as low as $1.39 per gallon. On my return trip, I paid
between $1.79 and $1.63 per gallon.

I arrived in Wichita at 6:30 pm and stayed in the same Motel 7.
It is cold here. After dinner, I called home, channel surfed
through all the channels, and went to bed.

Day 130 Houston, TX, USA

Saturday, 2/21/2009, overcast.

After breakfast, I retrieved my passport and vaccination card from
the ship's office and the Captain. I said my goodbyes and finished

My friend Jack arrived with my truck shortly after noon. I gave
him a tour of some of the parts of the ship which he did not see on
his first visit.

I enjoyed driving again. Back in Austin, we went to downtown where
my truck had been stored so Jack could retrieve his vehicle.

At Jack's house, I packed my truck. Before my departure, I had
left a few items in Jack's house, like my winter coat.

We had an early dinner. I had a 6 oz. steak, a salad, a large
baked potato, and half a bottle of good red wine. Then we went to
see an excellent presentation of 'Les Miserables'.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 129 Gulf of Mexico

Friday, 2/20/2009, sunny and clear. Last night: Actual departure from New Orleans was 8 pm. Transit time down the Mississippi River was 7 hours. Since it took 10 hours to go up the river, that means the river current must be about 1-1/2 mph. The stars were bright. After the ship cleared the river, many lights from oil platforms were visible. Today, many more oil platforms were visible. There were white caps earlier. That is a contrast to the many days with no white caps on our Pacific crossing. Early this morning, I did my final load of laundry, until I get home. I made my last trip to the focsl this afternoon. The starboard main deck was full of dunnage, so I walked on the hatch covers for half the distance. It was not a tee shirt day.

I finished the first cut of my photos, selecting 320 out of 1900. Some are duplicates, but I have some more work to do, to get down to the 100 best for a presentation, and the 50 best for prints. Tonight is my last night on the ship. My instant coffee and Ritz crackers ran out today, so I will disembark tomorrow, Day 130. I paid the Captain my Slop Chest charge of $16 for the last month and a half. I thanked him for his kindness. This has been an extraordinary trip. I am reading 'Invisible Prey', by John Sanford. I have reserved 15 minutes before bed time to pack. This is my planned schedule, subject to weather or other events: Arrive Houston City Docks, 0300 Saturday. Disembark 1130. Saturday night - Austin, TX Sunday - San Antonio, TX Monday night - Wichita, KS Tuesday night - home in Minnesota.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 128 New Orleans

Thursday, 2/19/2009, sunny and clear, but gusty and chilly. It is a quiet day on the ship. Cargo work continues. It is possible the ship will leave overnight. It is interesting to watch the ships and barges go by on the river. I selected and sorted photo images today. I also created an index to help me associate the image number with the date and location. I will finish reading 'Simple Genius' by Baldacci tonight. I am sipping a glass of Walmart wine called Menage a Trois. It is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel, and is a little sweet for me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 127 New Orleans

Wednesday, 2/18/2009, hotter and humid. It is tee shirt weather temporarily, and there are thunderstorm warnings. The hotel was comfortable and quiet, and convenient to the French Quarter. The complementary breakfast was good. I walked throught the French Quarter again and took more pictures. At Cafe Du Monde, I asked for chicory and French donuts. I'm not sure they use chicory in their coffee anymore. On the levee, I listened to parts of the lectures for 2 tourist groups before returning to the hotel. We took a taxi to the Walmart near the port. I bought a paper and replenished some supplies for my cabin and my drive home next week. After a fastfood lunch, the agent brought us back to the ship. This evening, a few of the crew have been able to get a ride out of the port.

The image today is one of the large cargo holds. We usually can't get close for safety reasons. The cargo has been removed from the upper layer. An adjustable pontoon floor is visible. There is much much more cargo beneath the removable floor.

Day 126 New Orleans

Tuesday, 2/17/2009, started cold and overcast, gradually warming with some sun. The ship arrived around midnight. We had been warned in advance about Homeland Security's new port security policy. It has been implemented in New Orleans, and meant we could no longer leave the ship unless escorted by a person with a special 'TWC' card. So, US citizens were confined to the ship for half a day, in a US port. Homeland Security's suggested solution is to pay a special escort service $100 each way. That cost is a hardship for the crew, after having been at sea for 26days. Fortunately the agents helped us, and fortunately, Houston doesn't implement the new policy until April.

When we arrived in the French Quarter in early afternoon, we walked around looking. There are beads everywhere, on the ground and on traffic lights, with more for sale. We found a restaurant and had a very good lunch. There are not so many book stores in New Orleans. We took the street car to a Borders store. I replenished my dark chocolate supply. Because of the port security hassle, we stayed in New Orleans overnight. Had another good meal. I had a small caesar salad, red beans and rice, and red wine. The image is the Tuesday sunrise. The ship's cranes have been raised and are ready.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 126 New Orleans, LA

No entry tonight, Dale is partying in New Orleans before Marti Gras. He'll be back tomorrow!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 125 Mississippi River

Monday, 2/16/2009, partly sunny, turning to sunny and cold. 16 degrees C. Last night, many lighted oil platforms were visible in the dark. Because of their size, the platforms are not usually as close as they appear. There were many more oil platforms today, until 1500 when the ship began the 10 hour trek up the Mississippi River to New Orleans. There are many birds in the river and adjacent salt marshes. I did not dance on the cargo hatch today. It was too cold. Supper was pork kabobs, fries and veggies. A jar of peanut butter appeared at breakfast! Because of schedule requirements and good luck, I am visiting New Orleans a second time, before I disembark in Houston in a few days. The picture today is from my last visit to the French Quarter in October.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 124 Galveston, TX

Sunday, overcast until 1400, then sunny. Galveston was a short stop, only for unloading and crane inspection. The ship tied up around 0400 and departed at 1800. The hatch covers are almost bare of cargo. Today was out first time off the ship since day 98 in Japan. We walked through the gate around 0900. We walked about a mile and a half, past 2 cruise ships, to 'The Strand', a historic business area. After coffee at a Starbucks, where George got a connection and updated his blog, we walked to see the 1877 iron barque sailing ship, Elissa. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a restaurant called Fisherman's Wharf, with a view of the barque. While we were eating, a man climbed up a mast and out on an arm, standing on the rat line, like the old sailors did. He was doing some tensioning maintenance work. I had an excellent shrimp caesar salad and a glass of red wine. Two cruise ships arrived after our ship arrived and left before our ship did. There was a passenger turnover. We walked past the long lines of waiting people. When we got back to the Jakarta, there were no long lines. There were no lines at all. There are large birds around with a big beaks. They crash into the water for food. Also saw a single dolphin.

The picture today is a series of historic high water marks here in Galveston. The blue mark is from September 2008. Nine bricks above that is the mark for 1900. Our ship will cross the Gulf of Mexico tonight and begin the 10 hour trip up the Mississippi channel to New Orleans. I expect to dock after dark.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day 123 Gulf of Mexico

Saturday, 2/14/2009, overcast, partly sunny. Last night the stars were great. Called home early this morning for Valentines Day. As we move furthur north, the days are shorter and the temperature is lower. There was fog at times from the cooler air over the warmer water. Maybe I could have worn Bermudas on my walk today, but long pants were more comfortable. The Bermudas and swimming suit are washed and packed until May. There are more ships around. I have seen 2 oil platforms already.

The picture today is another view of the Centennial Bridge at the Panama Canal. George will have an internet connection in a day or two. Please check his site to see more of his extraordinary images. Our expected arrival in Galveston is early Sunday morning. Could leave late afternoon for New Orleans. Mardi Gras is the week after we will be there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 122 Gulf of Mexico

Friday, 2/13/2009, sunny, warm and smooth. Last night, we signed and finger printed new picture ID cards. At 1015, there was surface fog for a short time. Late this morning, the ship passed from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, through the choke point between Cuba and the Yucatan. Also late this morning, the ship stopped dead in the water, and more crew members received steering training. I can still wear shorts and a tee shirt on my walks to the focsl.

The image today is 'Taking the plunge in the Panama Canal'. The ship is in the upper chamber of the Miraflores lock. This was before breakfast. The pool is saltwater. The canal is fresh water. Thanks to George Klucsarits, who took this picture on Wednesday. I'm getting shaggy and will need a haircut when I get home. We are scheduled to arrive in Galveston early Sunday, New Orleans after that, and if the schedule holds, I will disembark the following Sunday in Houston.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 121 Caribbean Sea

Thursday, 2/12/2009, mostly sunny, gradually smoother. Last night and today have been quiet. I think almost everyone was awake yesterday morning at 3 am for the canal activities. There are white birds around. Just before going below for lunch, I looked out my window and saw 2 fish jumping out of the water. They were about 2 feet long. On my walk forward, the starboard main deck was wet from the swells.

I have been trying to sort my images and get copies to people on the ship who want them. I'm sure I have over 2000 images, plus a few short videos. I need to select the best 50 for hard copies, and the best 100 for 2 presentations. The picture today is 'Cranes at sunset'. It was taken in Hamburg in late November.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 120C Panama Canal

Wednesday, 2/11/2009, sunny and tropical haze until we entered the Caribbean Sea midafternoon. After crossing Gatun Lake, the ship descended through the 3 Gatun Locks. The duration was from about 1300 until 1430 EST. Two things surprised me about the Panama Canal. I thought there would be more lift than the actual rise of 26 meters, or 85 feet. Also, I was expecting to see more traffic.

The ship crossed the remaining distance to open sea and cleared the Colon breakwater at 1530. I took an Aleve. My hip was sore from too much standing or climbing. There is moderate roll. I will put things away tonight. Our course is slightly west of north, toward Galveston. The pool was drained this afternoon. I think I was the only person who used it, and I used it twice. Finished reading 'The Christmas Train' by Baldacci. Time retards an hour tonight to CST. This is my last time zone change for the voyage.

Almost Live Pictures

I just sent these pictures, the upper left is the Mira Flores Locks, the first locks we went through. The picture on the right is the Pedro Miguel Locks which are the next in line. The third picture is the ship approaching the Centennial Bridge. The lower right is the Gatun Lock, the last one before entering the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 120B Panama Canal

Wednesday, 2/11/2009. Unlike most of Europe and Asia, Panama uses the same channel marking system as the US. Red, right, returning. 0600-0700 EST Passed through Miraflores double locks. Took pictures from the focsl. I swam in the pool while we were in the second lock. Estimated time for the Pedro Miguel Lock is 0900 EST or so, 0800 CST. Centennial Bridge will be an hour or so after that. Gatun Locks, will be mid or late afternoon. You might even see the ship via this site where the webcams are located:

Day 120A Panama Canal

Wednesday, 2/11/2009, first post 0500. Last night, dropped anchor around 2030. The ship lights were on. Birds were flying all around, picking off the fish attracted by the lights. 0300 Weighed anchor. 0440 Passed beneath the Bridge of the Americas. 0555 17 men boarded. Canal people operate the ship here. The passage has started. Time estimates posted yesterday are probably 2 hours early.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 119 Near Balboa, Panama

Tuesday, 2/10/2009, sunny and clear. We went south to about 7 degrees north latitude, before turning northeast toward the canal. Mid-day, the ship felt like it was galloping like a horse because of wind gusts. The present appointment for canal entry is 0300 Wednesday Eastern Standard Time, 0200 (2 am) CST. The canal passage could last until 1600 Wednesday, 2/11/2009. To verify location, check the Rickmers-Linie Purple Finder page, remembering that the data could be up to 6 hours old. The canal web cameras are located in this order. Miraflores Lock about 4 am estimated Pedro Miguel about 5 am, Centennial Bridge noonish or later. If you look for us on the web cam, here's how to recognize the ship: The hull is dark green, with the name Jakarta in white on both sides of the bow, and on the aft. The 4 cranes and the structure above the hull are light yellow. The cargo on deck are large white objects. If it is possible to distinguish people on the ship, I will most likely be in a deck chair or standing on the Pilot Deck, one deck below the Navigation Bridge. I will be wearing Bermudas, a dark green tee shirt, and a white hard hat. I could also be dancing on the hatches to rock music, or swimming in the pool, or eating in the officer's mess. I expect to have a few pictures to post over the next few days.

Dave informed me that the bird image yesterday was a Brown Boobie. The image today is what they left behind on the focsl. I walked 3 laps today, being very careful where I stepped. The pool was filled today, and I jumped in this afternoon.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 118 North Pacific Ocean

Monday, 2/9/2009, sunny and clear. The sea is very smooth and glassy today. In the afternoon, the temperature was 33 degrees C. (91 F) For the time change last night, I did not even bother to change my watch. I just left it on CST. The ship was off the coast of Nicaragua this morning, but has been stopped since 1300. We are ahead of schedule, and marking time. Tonight, the ship will travel the rest of the way to Balboa, Panama, arriving late in the day. 1100 Land Ho! We could actually see land for a while, late this morning. Other than lights at night, it is the first land I have seen since Japan. Also saw another ship today. Did a load of colored laundry this morning. Seems like every time I dry my socks, they get a little smaller. I'm afraid they will be the size of baby booties by the time I get home. I finished reading "Pathfinders". I listed the author in an earlier post. Also finished reading "Stone Cold" by Baldacci. I have 2 more Baldacci books to read, "The Christmas Train", and "Simple Genius". They will stay behind. Tonight I will watch more of "Into the Wild". The instant decaf coffee and the dark chocolate are finished.

The image today is a sea bird. There have been scores of these birds today. When they are not fishing, they rest on the Focsl rails or fore thwart. They left plenty of work for the deck crew. They fly over the water, looking for food, sometimes very low, riding the surface effect. Flying fish are the food. When the flying fish soar, the birds can catch them without getting wet, but will dive in if necessary. Sometimes the fish all jump at once, as if they are also being hunted from below. I'm very surprised that the birds aren't too fat to fly, because they were busy all day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 117 North Pacific Ocean

Sunday, 2/8/2009, sunny and clear. There were white caps most of the day. At 0800 we were off El Salvador. Our speed is slower today because of wind and area currents. The days are getting noticeably longer and warmer as we continue southward. I wore Bermuda shorts and a tee-shirt. I noticed the fill hose is out for the pool. Today was more relaxed. It was a rest day for many of the crew. I phoned home. When I went to the Focsl today, I walked 5 laps around the main deck. The port side was wet today from the swells, but not awash like it was yesterday.

Today, I had all 6 food groups, the toast group, the half-a-steak group, the broccoli group, the pizza group, the dark chocolate group, and the red wine group. The image today is a small wooden boat in Viet Nam. Our time advances one hour to Eastern Standard Time, for a few days, until we are on the other side of the Canal. We will then retard an hour, back to CST.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 116 North Pacific Ocean

Saturday, 2/7/2009, sunny and clear, but not smooth. Last night, the stars were more difficult to see as the moon waxes. The moon will probably be full when we pass through the Canal. There have been no birds yesterday or today. That makes the deck crew happy. I saw another ship this morning. For the last few days, we have been moving parallel to the west coast of Mexico. Now we begin the final phase of our trans-pacific crossing, past Guatamala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, to the Canal. Today, the ship passed through an area, which the officers tell us is windy and rough 8 times out of 10. We had moderate swells and roll, and the wind was blowing off the tops of the white caps. I walked to and from the Focsl on the starboard side, because the port side was awash from the swells. I surprised by slight seasickness mid-morning, after such a smooth Pacific crossing. The image today shows the spray blowing off the swells. In combination with the swells, I think this is Beaufort Scale 7. Saturday is often drill day. We had a General Alarm at 1530, followed by life boat drill. The crew had more drill and training after that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 115 North Pacific Ocean

Friday, 2/6/2009, sunny and clear all day. The seas are smooth with no white caps and little roll. Today and the next week are tee shirt weather again. After lunch, when I reached the Focsl here at 17 degrees north latitude, I saw flying fish again for the first time since the Indian Ocean. Saw a large multi-colored fish with a blue tail. I believe it is a dorada. Also saw two turtles. George saw more dolphins, both from the Focsl and a pod of 100 at sunset. Few ships are visible. I saw one today. Some appear on radar or the GPS receiver, but I have only seen 3 since we left Japan. It's a big ocean.

The image today is from Hiroshima again. Hiroshima is an old sea port. As you can see, the sea serpents like to climb up the street lamps. Our time advances another hour tonight to Central Standard Time.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 114 North Pacific Ocean

Thursday, 1/5/2009, sunny and clear until dark. After lunch, I recorded another walk to the Focsl. The camera movement reflects my walking from side to side. I also recorded the diving sea eagles, white birds with black trim on their wings. Their bodies, wings and beaks are extremely streamlined. They soar almost effortlessly, riding the air currents and pressure ridges around the ship. When they spot food, they bend a wingtip and dive, making a splash like an Olympic diver. Starting at 1500, there are a few tiny white caps.

Breakfast was cornflakes with muscli, toast, apple juice, and coffee. For lunch I added rice to my chicken soup. I also had salad, declining the main course, Chicken Cordon Bleu. Supper was hamburger steak, rice, and peas. The image today is a sidewalk utility cover from Hiroshima, Japan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 113 North Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, 2/4/2009, overcast. Last night there were stars. I saw Orion again. I saw dolphins from the Bridge before 0800 this morning. We are west of Baja all day today, bearing southeast toward Panama. The sea is still glassy and smooth. For a while at noon, the water beside the ship was very glassy. After lunch, my walk to the Focsl was pleasant. The wind is very mild. Today, the deck crew greased the cables on 3 of the 4 cargo cranes, moving down the cables, all the way to the ends of the booms. Peach Melba was offered at breakfast. I had duck at lunch, and beef stroganoff for supper.

The picture today was taken in October 2008, on departure from New Orleans, sailing down the Mississippi River. The French Quarter is on the right. The ship is moving at 5 knots, and the wake is barely visible. We expect to visit New Orleans again in about 2 weeks, before returning to my starting point, Houston, Texas. Tonight, the time advances another hour to Mountain Standard Time, one hour behind CST.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 112 North Pacific Ocean

Tuesday, 2/3/2009, overcast am, sunny and smooth pm. The sea has been glassy again today. It is not perfectly flat like a piece of glass, but smooth and reflecting the sky. There are no wind ripples and no white caps. The ship's wake is visible to the horizon. Swells and roll are very minor at 1800. The afternoon particularly was very pleasant.

Supper was liver and onions. I had a sandwich and salad. Cabin snack inventory status: This might sound more interesting if you imagine someone in a lifeboat. The dark chocolate will run out before Panama. Ann's reconstituted trail mix probably won't last until Houston. I ate the last cracker from home today. I have some crackers and snacks which I bought in Japan. My personal supply of Nescafe Instant Decaf and Regular Coffee will run out in a few days. I still have plenty of black and green tea bags. More regular instant coffee is available, and my bottled water supply is adequate, even after providing a gallon for the new coffee set-up in the library. The Slop Chest has been out of red wine since December. I bought 4 bottles of red wine in Japan. Rationed at 1/8 bottle per day, it might last, or not. The shampoo I bought in New Orleans ran out this morning, but I have some from the Park Hotel.

I finished reading 'The Collectors', by David Baldacci. After donating it to the library, I started 'Stone Cold' by the same author. I am also reading 'Pathfinders, A Global History of Exploration', by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a book George loaned to me. I also wrote a little today. The image today is a sunset behind the downtown skyline of Philadelphia.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 111 North Pacific Ocean

Monday, 2/2/2009, overcast with only a little sun. At 1630, the sea was glassy. Swells are moderate, with a little roll. We have 19 fairly repetitive days in a row crossing the Pacific.
.Another day at sea.
..Another day at sea.
...Another day at sea.
....Another day at sea.
.....Another day at sea.
......Another day at sea.
.......Another day at sea.
You get the picture. Aside from my usual daily routine, what set today apart was that I wrote a short story, did 2 loads of laundry, and clipped my toe nails. Our time advances one hour tonight to Pacific Standard Time, 2 hours ahead of CST. We will advance all the way to Eastern Standard Time in a few days, because that is the time zone for Panama. Today's picture was taken in the dining room of the Park Hotel in Shanghai. This jar of preserved fruit is one of several on display at the breakfast buffet.