Glad to report that the brig Roald Amundsen has safely reached the Belgian port of Ostend this afternoon (Easter Sunday), docking at 14.30hrs local time (see previous stories). I have been following her progress on the German Sail-Training Association's webpage at http://http//www.sailtraining.de/index.php?id=28&L=1.
I'd also like to share with readers some of the shipping and maritime sites I have been enjoying recently. Shipspotting.com is a very interesting site for anyone interested in the sea and things maritime. It has more than half a million photographs posted by site users. It's free and can be found at http://www.shipspotting.com/
AIS, that's Automated Information Systems, is a relatively recent development. All ships must now carry a radio transponder which allows their position to be plotted by harbour authorities and other mariners. The system is quite cheap and you can buy your own AIS detector for a few hundred Euro and connect it to your PC allowing you to see real-time positions for ships in your vicinity. Linked up to the internet it becomes the equivalent of air-traffic control for ships. Luckily many internet sites are now offering a version of online AIS. One I discovered recently is http://aislive.com/ - for a free sign-up you can see ships positions for all of northern Europe on your computer screen. The free version shows you an hour behind but if you sign up for the premium service, which is still very inexpensive, you can see the actual position of ships in every major harbour in northern Europe (and a few others) in real-time.
The Cork Harbour cruise liner season starts next week with the arrival of the first of more than 50 liners which will visit the port in 2008 - most of them docking at Cobh's cruise liner terminal at Deepwater Quay. The first arrival will be the Black Prince of the Fred Olsen line which will arrive next Sunday, 30th March around 07.30hrs. She and her sister ship the Black Watch have been regular visitors to Cobh over the last few years. The photo here is one I took of the Black Watch in 2006.