Journal Entry  -  September 28, 1999  -  Day 17

Tuesday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Mountain Daylight Time

22 Degrees, 10 Minutes North


110 Degrees, 16 Minutes West

Days Run:

61.3 Nautical Miles


5.11 Knots (Average)  running at reduced speed due to a fixed ETA of October 16 at the Panama Canal.

Total Run This Leg:   827.6 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.29 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:   156.5 Hours, 6.52 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  2,120.2 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  7:00 a.m., October 16, Balboa Sea Buoy
Present Course:  125 Degrees Southeast by East
Winds:  Northwest at 25 Knots, out of the Gulf of California
Seas & Swells:  Combined at 8 Feet
Barometric Pressure:  1009 Millibars
Air Temperature:  73 Degrees
Visibility:  More than 10 Miles
Skies:  Scattered Low Clouds on the horizon, a little Hazy
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths here range between 1,731 and 1,760 Fathoms, or 10,386 and 10,560 Feet. The flying fish have been scattering actively this morning as the Sea Victory's thrust cuts a path through their sanctuaries, and the Mahi-mahi chase them down for breakfast.

Position:  USS New Jersey is now 45 Nautical Miles South-Southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico. She is moving more into open ocean at this stage, with the coastline of Baja California receding to the North, and the Pacific coast of interior Mexico far to the East of her.

A Family Man, All The Way

Fifty years ago, Celso Gren Martinez, Able Seaman on the Sea Victory's USS New Jersey homecoming voyage, was born into a family of fishermen in Olanchito, Honduras, a Central American neighbor of Panama, North of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

"We're all neighbors in Central America," Martinez says. His delight with New Jersey's advance into these Southern waters is clear. He's coming back home. Television station reception in the crew's reading and leisure room, just off the galley, now receives only Spanish-language Mexican programs. Martinez soaks it up, usually alone. Others in the crew, although conversant with some of the language, cannot claim native-speaking status.

"Crowley is the first company I've worked with in the towing industry," Martinez says. He worked as a seaman with cargo ships operating out of Houston and West Palm Beach, and oil barges running up and down the U.S. West coast, but towboating has only become his livelihood in the last three years. "I worked with the West India Lines until the old man passed away, and they had to tie the ship up."

That was in 1986. He decided then to re-settle his family in America.

He moved his wife, Zuli Crisanto, and their three children, from their Honduran home to Los Angeles. Their fourth child was born there, an American. Today, they have five: Erika, 15, and twins - one boy, Marlin, one girl, Mirla, 13, all born in Honduras; Martha, 11, born in Los Angeles; and the father's namesake, Celso, Jr., 18 months, born in Seattle, the present home of the Martinez family, since 1991.

"I went to work for Crowley," he says, "because I could spend a little more time with my family." He spent 1992-93 with the National Maritime Union as a seaman working oil tankers, then joined the "Red Stack." "They offer more flexible time to be with my family," he says, "and a little more benefits." Those can be worth plenty to a family of seven.

His birthplace in Olanchito, Honduras, is the seat of the Departmento de Yoro, an official administrative jurisdiction, like a U.S. state, on the Southern base of the Cordillera Nombre de Dios mountain range on the Aguan River.

Hurricane Mitch, during last year's storm season, devastated large parts of Olanchito and surroundings with the Aguan's rampaging floods, not unlike Floyd's effects on the U.S. East coast two weeks ago.

The Martinez extended family, an 83-year old father and all their relatives, now resides in La Ceiba, on the northern coastline of the Gulf of Honduras, along the western part of the Caribbean Sea.

"I was introduced to the sea because one of the few resources in my homeland was fishing," he says, "and I left Honduras because I wanted to have a little better future than my father."

Celso has 4 brothers and 4 sisters, in addition to his own growing family and many other relatives, all of whom he thinks about, one assumes, as he strips clean a 5-pound Albacore tuna on Sea Victory's stern, slashes it open, and hangs it in the afternoon tropic sun to dry.

He will dry it completely, and preserve it with salt for a future meal. "It's part of my Honduran culture," Martinez explains. "This makes me feel closer to home."

As USS New Jersey steadily works her way Southeast toward the Panama Canal passage, one of her Sea Victory custodians will be right at home for the duration. Eastward of the battleship's track is Le Ceiba. And a family of fishermen who taught him the sea he now travels for his children.

These are Celso's waters.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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