Friday, June 13, 2014

cruising alaska... monday

the pearl departed for Juneau at 4pm on sunday.  monday was to be an at sea day. from seattle to juneau is 774 nautical miles.  that's 891 land miles. point is, at 22-24 knots, it takes a while to get there by ship. 

normally, an at sea day is uneventful, the time passed at leisure.  nothing exciting was expected to happen, although ava and  were sitting at breakfast, seated at a table along the windows when a humpback breached right next to the Pearl.  it was huge! 

so my bud-in-law, terry, and i spent some time on deck and had a few more sightings, but at a distance.  we could see the whales blowing but that was about it.  nothing to get worked up about.

that would change.

about 2 pm, the captain came on the ships intercom with an announcement.  "ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed that the ship has slowed down and we have begun a turn. there has been a medical emergency on board. we will need to sail in the direction we just came from to rendezvous with emergency personnel.  not to worry, this will only delay our Juneau arrival by one hour".

completing the turn, we sailed back the way we had just come for 3 hours.  i was on deck twelve with what seemed to be half the other passengers when a plane approached the pearl flying low.        it began to circle the ship.

soon after, a helicopter approached.  the fire crews had made ready for its arrival hours before just in case things went wrong.

I/we witnessed first hand the niftiest bit of air/seamanship one could ever hope to see.  the pearl continued at speed as the copter's pilot maneuvered into position, hovering above the 13th deck while matching the pearl's forward progress. a basket and crew member were lowered to the deck to ready the patient for transport. the chopper lifted away, circling a few times before coming in again to take the patient and crew member aboard the helicopter and then the chopper was off and soon faded into the distance.

later we were told the patient had suffered an appendicitis attack, had been taken to a hospital, had undergone surgery and was recovering. certainly the events of monday afternoon were not something anyone expected as we left for Juneau.  it is good to know that ncl knows how to handle such a situation should it arise and did not hesitate to make a passengers well being a top priority.

kudos to the crew of the rescue squad and the crew of the pearl. job well done.

on a side note, as I mentioned, many people were on deck taking pictures and video of the helicopter rescue.  if you notice, the crew member in the door of the chopper (in the first video) was taking pictures, or video, of the pearl as the pilot maneuvered along side.  a rescue at sea was a first for me.  maybe it was his first rescue from a cruise ship.

after the rescue, the ship executed another turn and soon we were headed back toward juneau.  the captain put the pedal to the medal and we arrived in juneau at 3pm on tuesday, only 1 hour later than scheduled, as promised.

not your average at sea day by any means. I hope the patient continues to recover.


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