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the Degree Confluence Project
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Spain : Galicia

61.2 km (38.0 miles) WNW of Cabo Finisterre (Cape), Galicia, Spain
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 43°S 170°E

Accuracy: 28 m (91 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: The ship is falling into a "valley" of a huge wave #3: Spray caused by pitching #4: Spray is reducing the visibility for several seconds #5: GPS #6: View to ENE from the confluence #7: View to E from the confluence #8: Cabo Finisterre on a photo in the Admiralty's Pilot Book #9: Chief Officer Volodymyr on the radar #10: Captain Peter, preparing for Christmas

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  43°N 10°W (visit #1)  

#1: View to ESE from the confluence

(visited by Captain Peter and Volodymyr Meshcheryakov)

23-Dec-2003 -- After passing Madeira we are approaching continental Europe again. During winter usually the Bay of Biscay/Baie de Gascogne is notorious for stormy weather, but we catched our first storm already a day earlier, off the Portuguese cost. A powerful high pressure of 1040 hPa (!!!) is sitting over the Bay of Biscay, causing a strong flow of air towards SSW. This winds from ahead cause the ship to move around her transversal axis, the seaman calls it "pitching". Pitching is even more disapproved than the movement around the longitudinal axis ("rolling"), as it hampers the speed and causes bothersome pounding at times, stressing the hull far heavier than rolling.

Pitching begins with the bow is lifted up by a huge wave. The wave is passing below the ship's bottom and subsequently she falls with her nose into the following "valley", which first causes an enormous balloon of water. No seaman is allowed to stay on the forecastle under such conditions. Everybody would be swept away in no time. The water balloon developes a lot of spray which finally spreads all over the ship and the visibility remains restricted for several seconds.

As before told, nobody is allowed to stay or even work outside when such conditions prevail. That's annoying, because we have a lot of maintenance jobs to do. Later, when the ship arrives in her European home port, a superintendent from the Owners will board and complain again, why we did not work properly and nothing had happened regarding maintenance during the voyage. But no problem, - every experienced and smart captain has such pictures in his bag to show the superintendent upon any eventual complaints, "why the crew did not work .. why the ship is still in such a nasty condition ... we delivered expensive paint and nothing had happened ... ".

Well, when approaching Cabe Finisterre and Cabo Toriñana, the Nortwesternmost tips of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain), the weather improved, and when I glared out of my bulleye after my afternoon nap, surprisingly I clearly saw the coastline. This is very unusual, and I even had not had scheduled that visit, but due to the high pressure we are in now, the visibility is exceptionally good.

So I could bag 43N 10W, well 30 nautical miles off the coast, being very rocky, rugged and steep, backed by high land which rises to a height of over 300 m. The main promontories in the area are Cabo Villano, Cabo Toriñana and Cabo Finisterre ("Cape of the End of the World").

For all ships rounding the Nortwestern tip of Spain a traffic separation and radio reporting scheme has been established, being strictly enforced especially since the casualty of the tanker "Erika" in winter 2001. The tanker was coming from Russia, fully laden with oil for Gibraltar. During a storm in the vicinity of Cabo Finisterre she broke in two and subsequently sank, causing a major environmental disaster for the fishermen and the tourism in the area.

The traffic lanes, intended to separate the traffic bound from the Mediterranian to Northern Europe and vice versa, lie East of the 10°W meridian, but we, coming from the SW, were anyway not supposed to use them, but to stay outside, thus farther in the West. This gave us the opportunity to visit this point. For the above explained reasons we were not allowed to go closer to the coast, and so I took a picture of Cabo Finisterre from a photo in the Pilot Book of the British Admiralty.

As we are a poor ship and do not have a scanner, I had to make a photo with my digicam, and so the picture taken from a distance of 1 foot does not differ much in quality from those taken more than 30 nautical miles off the coast ;-(

This time the visit fell into the watch of my deputy, Chief Officer Volodymyr Meshcheryakov from Odessa (Ukraine).

Tomorrow is Christmas, and as it is proper for a good Christian ship, the trees have to be prepared. This requires a longer operation: The trees I purchased a four years ago in Argentina, and they are still okay. I knew there should be around somewhere some silver tinsels, but then I recalled that we have once used them as a decoration for a beach party in Nigeria nine months ago, and of course nobody brought them back on board. Chirstmas tree balls are definitely none around, no need to search for them. Since five years these balls give reason to discussions. I am repeatedly ordering them every year and so far they were always rejected by our purchasing department, for "Christmas balls are not essential for the operation of the ship".

The illumination surprisingly was around, but no longer operative. I remember very well it having worked perfectly last Christmas, and nobody was using it since then. So I went with it to the Chief Engineer to get it repaired. First he grumbled this not to be his responsibility and that he is not an electrician. "But you are a Catholic!" I told him, "that's enough. And now take the trouble and fix this bloody illumination!"

Finally all was arranged, and seamen are known to be inventive. Instead of the lacking Christmas balls I hang up the incoming telexes, where the shipowner, the charterer and the agent are wishing us "Merry Christmas".

Well, this was my Christmas Confluence, and I am wishing a successful New Confluence Year to all visitors around the World!


 All pictures
#1: View to ESE from the confluence
#2: The ship is falling into a "valley" of a huge wave
#3: Spray caused by pitching
#4: Spray is reducing the visibility for several seconds
#5: GPS
#6: View to ENE from the confluence
#7: View to E from the confluence
#8: Cabo Finisterre on a photo in the Admiralty's Pilot Book
#9: Chief Officer Volodymyr on the radar
#10: Captain Peter, preparing for Christmas
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)