Monday, December 27, 2010

Russian plans for tomorrow - USA lives in the day - USA ARCTIC DRILLING 2011 UNPREPARED

Arctic. © RIA Novosti.Vladimir Baranov
The Russian emergencies ministry is planning to build ten centers to monitor the operation and safety of oil and gas pipelines on the Arctic coast, Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
"One of the problems in the Arctic is the safety of oil and gas pipelines built on frozen ground. The thaw [in spring and summer] causes deformation of earth layers and, consequently, leads to leaks, ruptures and explosions at pipelines," Shoigu said in an interview with Russia 1 television.
"We have decided to build ten centers along the coast in the Arctic," he said. "They will combine meteorological, rescue and even borderguards services — all that is needed to tackle emergency situations."
Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway are seeking to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to contain rich oil and gas deposits. The vast hydrocarbon deposits will become more accessible as rising global temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.
Easier access to untapped natural resources of the Arctic will inevitably lead to the construction of dozens of new pipelines and require well-coordinated monitoring of oil and gas exploration in the region.
Shoigu said the most advanced safety technologies would be used in construction of pipelines in the Arctic.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heavy rains force temporary suspension of traffic in the Panama Canal

Heavy rains have forced the temporary suspension of traffic along the Panama Canal, the major shipping waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which handles 5% of global trade.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said in a statement on Wednesday that it was forced to suspend traffic through the canal after heavy rains had swelled the lakes that form part of canal to historic levels.
The ACP added that the temporary closure was for opening the flood gates to reduce the water level in one of the lakes, and expressed hopes that normal traffic could resume “within hours”.
Though certain sections of the canal has been closed on several occasions due to temporary blocks caused by accidents, this is the first time in more than 20 years that the entire canal has been closed to ships since the US invasion of Panama in 1989.
Most of Central America as well as several Latin American nations including Colombia and Venezuela have experienced the heaviest rains in decades this year, resulting in severe floods and mudslides across the region.
Unlike the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal is not at sea level and is made of narrow fresh water channels and lakes situated at a higher altitude. The Canal has two massive locks at either end, which are used to raise and lower ships into and out of the canal.
The construction of the canal was completed by the United States in 1914 after taking over the project in 1904 following a failed French attempt. The Canal came under Panamanian control in 1999, and has since been a major contributor to the central American nation's economy.
Some 40 ships pass through the Panama Canal on a daily basis, making one of the busiest waterways for global trade. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dorothy was right: There’s no place like home.

So I'm home for the Holidays; to talk with sponsors, suppliers and especially Captain Mark Schrader, of the Around The Americas vessel SV OCEAN WATCH, who completed a west-to-east Northwest Passage in 2009 during his near 28,000nm voyage around North America and South America.

Admiral Michelle, Philip and I drove north in our 850 Volvo to flood stricken Stanwood north of Seattle to meet Mark at what might be the best pizzeria in Washington state, Jimmy's Pizza. At high noon there comes another 850 Volvo with Captain Mark Schrader. We discover that both of our Admirals' are named "Michelle" - that makes it easy - Michelle this and Michelle that - not missing a single beat or speaking out of turn.... lol ... as my Michelle was taking it all in seated next to me and across the table from Mark. Mark's Michelle was back at the ranch enjoying her horses. Captains talk another language... everything has acronyms, abbreviations or some never heard of nautical terms... I could see the twinkle in the Admiral's eyes as she listened and took notes. Michelle explained her method of galley madness to Mark as he nodded with agreement... then exclaimed "Sounds like you are good hands and ready for a trip of a lifetime... I really want to go back again. I already miss exploring its secrets."

L-R: Captain Mark Schrader, Admiral Michelle and Captain Douglas Pohl

Around The Americas website:

Around The Americas News announcement:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Retirement on a Cruise Ship Combines Adventure with Convenience - REMEMBER TO CONSIDER A PRIVATE YACHT

If you are the kind of person who likes adventure and convenience – two goals that are usually incompatible – retirement on a cruise ship might be for you. It’s easy to see why many folks like cruises – you arrive at the dock, have your picture taken and come on board for a glass of the bubbly. Meanwhile your luggage finds your room (tipping is usually already included). You stow your clothes away (once) and then contemplate which restaurant merits your dinner reservation. After a busy night at the shows or rolling the dice, you awake to find your new home arriving in a new and exotic port. You check out those sights, then back to the ship where you …. rinse and repeat! And until it’s time to go home,your job is to enjoy hassle-free travel from your moving base.
Many retirees go on cruises when they first retire. Usually they like them so much they keep on taking them, discovering new destinations with different cruise lines. The choices are many, from budget operators like Carnival and Voyages of Discover to mid-priced lines like Princess to the super-extravagant like Seabourn and Crystal. Your editor, who was anti-cruising before he went on one, has really enjoyed cruising on the smaller boat experience provided by Windstar and Princess lines. Photos below are from our Ocean Princess stateroom looking at Nice (France) and Sorrento (Italy) this September.

Some folks like it so much they decide to pretty much live on board, and we can’t blame them. Princess is just one cruise line that offers multi-month cruises. The Pacific Princess has a 97 night cruise around the world, while the Seven Seas Voyager (Regent) offers a 145 nighter. Here is a link to a dozen more “super-long cruises“.
But why stop there? Many folks actually take up residence on board a cruise ship built for long-term living. You typically own your apartment and pay your share of the communal expenses. On the more affordable end of that scale, you can read Jan Cullinane’s article about what it’s like to live on the Alegria, a cruise ship converted to permanent apartments.
But if you want to step up to the ultimate in permanent cruising, you might want to check out The World. Your Topretirements editor was fortunate enough to have enjoyed lunch and a tour on this beautiful ship when it recently visited Newport, RI. To say that it is luxurious would be a serious understatement. This boat is for the very wealthy, and my, what a life they can live. From the tennis court, resort pool, and mini-golf course on the top deck to the indoor swimming pool and dance floor on the rear deck – and everywhere in between – no possible luxury has been spared. The spa was the single most luxurious facility we have ever seen. There are at least 5 luxurious restaurants plus more casual dining options, and at least 2 are open at any time of day or night. Residents vote on each year’s itinerary and share management of the ship. They pay handsomely for the privilege, too. Apartments range from studios to multi-bedroom penthouses and range from about $600,000 to multi-million dollars. Monthly expenses start at about $20,000/month (but do include a dining allowance!). But, as was pointed out to us, compared to the cost of owning a yacht and cruising the world with your own captain and crew – The World is a bargain! Please enjoy the photos of the World below (large photo of the ship is courtesy of Wikipedia and VirtualSteve. See also Residential Cruise Liners.

What do you think?
 Would residential cruising be for you? Would you also have another base somewhere else. What happens when you become elderly. Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.