John and Jean's 2009 Maritime Adventure

This blog will chronicle our Around the World voyage on the German freighter m/v Rickmers New Orleans, departing Houston on 20-Sep-2009 returning to Houston on 6-Feb-2010.

06 February 2010 | Docked, Port of Houston
04 February 2010 | At Sea, Off the Campeche Bank, Gulf of Mexico
01 February 2010 | Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
30 January 2010 | Panama, Central America
20 January 2010 | Pacific Ocean, North of the Marquesas
18 January 2010 | Pacific Ocean, South of Honolulu
16 January 2010 | Pacific Ocean, Southeast of Midway Island
13 January 2010 | The Central Pacific
11 January 2010 | Kobe, Japan
11 January 2010 | Kobe, Japan
11 January 2010 | Kobe, Japan
05 January 2010 | Qingdao, China
05 January 2010 | Qingdao, China
31 December 2009 | At Sea, Off Masan South Korea
23 December 2009 | At Dock, Shanghai China

Journey's End

06 February 2010 | Docked, Port of Houston
John and Jean Locke
We boarded the Rickmers New Orleans back on Sept 18th of last year, and now 143 days later we have returned, having successfully circumnavigated the globe in just under five months.

Regrettably, I must now surrender my membership in The Flat Earth Society, as we've been to the end of the world, and we did not fall off.

And, 'thar be no monsters there'. Just many, many wonderful places to visit.

It's a sad day for us, leaving our "home" for the past five months for the final time. Over the course of the journey, the crew have become like family to us (almost all of them are young enough to be our children!)

They are a hard working bunch of seamen, and to a man it was an honour and a privilege to sail around the world with them.

Our final day at sea was cool and cloudy with occasional rain squalls passing over us. A perfect day to pack. The Gulf of Mexico is cluttered with offshore oil platforms. Hundreds of them dot the horizon in every direction as you approach the coast of the United States. The nautical charts of the area actually have safe transit lanes marked on them for shipping. They set out narrow channels between all the oil rigs that ships are funneled into. We lined up on one that headed directly for the mouth of Galveston Bay.

The sun came out around dinner time, and we were treated to one final spectacular sunset, just one of many we experienced over the past five months.

We docked in Houston at 5:00am Feb 6th and proceeded to clear customs and immigration. It took over two hours, and was a lot more complicated than our normal airport clearance procedures, however in the end we had no problems.

Our final goodbyes to the crew were difficult. Jean had to make it quick as she started to cry. As we have said, they became like family to us over the past five months.

At 11:00am we walked down the gangway for the final time and waved our goodbyes.

The Tropic of Cancer

04 February 2010 | At Sea, Off the Campeche Bank, Gulf of Mexico
John Locke
We crossed over the Tropic of Cancer this morning, as we transit the Gulf of Mexico toward Galveston Texas.

Our string of remarkably good weather continues, as it remains warm (26c) and mostly sunny with relatively calm seas.

Only today and tomorrow remain in our remarkable journey, and Jean has started packing up suitcases ready for us to disembark on Saturday for the final time.

Today is the last day we will be able to use the swimming pool, so Jean is on deck for the afternoon getting in some final rays of sun and Vitamin D before we head back into the winter weather.

As soon as I post this blog entry, I'll head down for a final swim.

We bought some nice Cuban cigars in Costa Rica, so tonight we'll head up on deck to smoke them while doing a final bit of stargazing.

Puerto Limon

01 February 2010 | Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
John and Jean Locke
It was only a 12 hour journey through the Caribbean from Colon to Puerto Limon, our final port of call. We arrived at 12:30 am on Sunday morning January 31st.

The Celebrity Cruise Ship Equinox was in port and took up the entire commercial pier, so we had to anchor for the entire Sunday waiting for a berth to open up.

It was a nice protected little bay, and we spent a lazy Sunday on deck. A school(?) of Dolphins lazily swam around the ship all day, and the crew took the opportunity to go fishing from the poop deck. They caught enough fresh fish to feed themselves lunch and dinner on Sunday.

It was a mostly cloudy day, but those are the worst kind, as Jean and I both managed to get sunburned faces by not taking sufficient precautions.

We finally docked late Monday morning and got to go ashore.

Puerto Limon is not a very big place, only one commercial pier. We could walk the entire downtown area in about 30 minutes. Many of the officers and crew went ashore also. It rained lightly off and on during most of the day, adding to the humidity.

Jean and I both noticed how very much this reminded us of Lae, Papua New Guinea. Even the unique smells in the grocery store brought back memories of a previous life. I don't quite know how to describe the smell....a unique combination of fresh meat and produce, musky tropical earth, humidity and soap is the best I can do. Once you smell it, you never forget it.

We bought a few treats to have for our cabin over the final week of our voyage.

Jean struck up a conversation with an expat who was sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking a coke. He recommended the Park Hotel for dinner, so we went back to our cabin on the ship for a couple hours of relaxation in air conditioning (it was extremely humid and sticky ashore) before heading out for a nice dinner ashore.

We both had a feed of fresh shrimps, and local Costa Rican beer (Imperial).

The streets were pretty much deserted when we walked back to the ship at 8pm.

Cargo operations finished early, and the ship let out a loud blast of the ship's horn to tell crew still on shoreleave to return to the ship early. We pulled back out to sea at 10:30 pm, heading through the Caribbean toward Houston.

Time to pack and think about heading home. It's been a wonderful journey. We've been told that 2 Canadians from Winnipeg will be taking over our cabin for the next world tour. We envy them, but will be happy to see friends and family very shortly.

Another Shot of The Gatun Locks

30 January 2010 | The Panama Canal, Central America
John and Jean Locke
This is a nice view back into the locks after we passed through.
Vessel Name: Rickmers New Orleans
Vessel Make/Model: Superflex Heavy MPC - 1.900 TEU Class
Hailing Port: Majuro, Marshall Islands
Crew: John & Jean Locke
John and Jean live in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada. John is Director, Information Technology for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. Jean has recently retired from her job as Manager, Human Resources for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority. [...]
Extra: Complete details on the ship, our travel agent, and the voyage can be found by clicking Favorite Links.
Rickmers New Orleans's Photos - Main
"Pearl String" Around the World Sept 18 2009 - Jan 22 2010
1 Photo | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 25 July 2009

m/v Rickmers New Orleans

Who: John & Jean Locke
Port: Majuro, Marshall Islands