Friday, October 26, 1000-Midnight

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Rescue at Sea

1000 to 1300 hrs. The Epiphany crew was escorted to the Navigation Bridge of the Atlantic Prosperity at the direction of the Chief Officer, where we were introduced to the Captain and welcomed aboard. After introductions, our passports were collected by the CO for the purpose of checking our identities and determining any security issues. We were then invited to the officer’s stateroom at the rear of the Navigation Bridge to have a donut and coffee. At this time we were told by the Captain that he had sought and received permission from the ship’s owners in Japan to set a course for San Juan PR, where he would rendezvous with the USCG at approximately 10 miles out of port and have all five of us transferred by helicopter to San Juan.

Two Crews

Two Crews

After a brief time in the stat room, we were invited to go to E deck where we could shower, get into orange “visitors” jumpsuits, and launder our salt water soaked clothing. After showering and while our laundry was being washed, we were invited to the officers’ mess to have lunch. Lunch was fish, vegetables, bread, water, salad and a desert. All enjoyed the meal.

1300 to 1800 hrs. After lunch, the five of us returned to the laundry on E deck where we transferred our clothing to the ship’s dryer. We relaxed in one of the crew’s bunk areas on E deck. Once the laundry was dry we changed back into our own clothes and made our way back to the Navigation Deck. We had free access to all areas of the Navigation Deck and enjoyed learning about operations of a super tanker from our own observations and from deck officers, including the Chief Engineer. We learned that five of the deck officers, including the Captain and the Chief Officer were from one city in Croatia, a community rich in maritime heritage. We learned that the ship was built in Japan, was 12 years old, double hulled, managed by a British company and presently involved in the shipping oil on a spot market sale basis, principally between Nigeria and Galveston, TX.

As the hours passed, we eventually learned that the USCG informed the AP that it was no longer considering dispatching a helicopter to pick us up. This put the Captain and the ship’s owners in an awkward position – they might have to bring us closer to San Juan in order that small vessel might transfer us to shore. The Captain was making extraordinary efforts to accommodate our early and safe departure from his ship. The CO explained to us that the ship’s company had an insurance policy that would, in part, defray the cost of this rescue and lost time at sea. Also, the CO told us that the rescue provided the ship’s crew a training opportunity (a regular Friday afternoon occurrence) – only this time it was for real and it occurred on Friday morning, instead. With the spectacularly successful rescue, the officers and crew, we were told, were pleased to have this different level of activity on their training day.

By mid afternoon, the Chief Engineer invited all of us for a tour of the propulsion system of the AP. All five of us went below with the 2nd Engineer, donned ear protection, and were taken down some four additional decks to observe the 7 cylinder diesel that operated at a 73 rpm cruising level. We also observed the generators, maintenance areas, the drive shaft, air circulation and hydraulic rudder control systems. Everything was incredibly large. We returned to the Navigation Bridge where we spent some time observing operations, hung out in the Officer’s stateroom, and later down below to E deck where some of us rested in a bunk or on a settee.

1800 to 2200 hrs. At approximately 1800 hours we were invited to have supper with the officers in the officer’s mess. We gladly accepted and sat down to a baked lamb dinner with salad, vegetables, garnishes, and a desert. We spoke of our satisfaction and gratitude for such a great meal, at which time the Captain invited the ship’s cook to come forward and take a bow. We applauded him with enthusiasm.

Later, while we steamed toward San Juan, we proceeded below to the officer’s lounge where we hung out with some of the officers, including the Chief Officer and Chief Engineer. While a DVD played in the background (a USCG action film about training recruits in Alaska) we talked at length with the officers about their homeland, their careers, about their current jobs and work history aboard the Atlantic Prosperity and a little about our journey from Salem. We had been discouraged by some from bringing such a small sailing vessel so far off shore – and now we agreed! The conversation was most congenial, informative and helpful. Gary went to the galley for a snack of canned pears.

2200 to Midnight. At approximately 2300 hours we were invited to the port side of the red light section of the Nav. Bridge to observe our passage into San Juan harbor. We learned that we were to rendezvous with a USCG patrol boat approximately one mile from shore.

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