Journal Entry  -  October 23, 1999  -  Day 42

Saturday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time

13 Degrees, 23 Minutes North


80 Degrees, 25 Minutes West

Days Run:

59.6 Nautical Miles


4.97 Knots (Average)  running to meet a fixed ETA.

Total Run This Leg:  241.1 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.44 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  44.3 Hours / 1.9 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  1,855.4 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  3:00 p.m., Saturday, November 6, Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy, at the mouth of the Delaware River.
Present Course:  353 Degrees Northerly
Winds:  Northwest at 8 Knots
Seas:  1 Foot
Swells:  Slight
Barometric Pressure:  1010 Millibars
Air Temperature:  82 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  81 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Partly Cloudy
Sea Floor:  The Caribbean Sea's depth in this area varies dramatically from one point to another.  To New Jersey's immediate West, the depth is 879 Meters, or 2,817 Feet.  To her immediate East, 64 meters or 205 Feet.  Captain Ogaard's trackline through these scattered shoals, cays, islands and hazards is clear cut - the deepest waters available, which is now course 353 Degrees.

Panama Canal Transit:  October 16 - 21 / Balboa Pier 14 - 15, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut, Gamboa, Lake Gatun, and the Gatun Locks, and Cristobal.  USS New Jersey's clearance into the Caribbean Sea / Atlantic Ocean was completed at 11:34 a.m., and her mark for the commencement of the Cristobal, Panama - Philadelphia, PA Third Leg was passed at 11:42 a.m., Thursday, October 21.

Distance Of Second Leg:   September 21 - October 15 / Long Beach, CA to Balboa Anchorage, Panama: 2,948.7 Nautical Miles, the longest leg of New Jersey's homecoming voyage.
Total Average Speed Second Leg:  5.18 Knots

Distance Of First Leg:  September 12 - 21 / Bremerton, WA to Long Beach, CA: 1,193.6 Nautical Miles from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Long Beach, CA anchorage.
Total Average Speed First Leg:  5.54 Knots

Position:  The USS New Jersey is now running between Isla de Providencia to the West, and Cayos de Roncador to the East, both islands considered the territory of Columbia, which is very well South of here, and even beyond her departure point of Panama, 241.1 Nautical Miles behind.  Another proximate island to the Southwest, Isla de San, is considered Columbian as well, but one source map indicates it is also claimed by Nicaragua, 150 Miles due West.

"Approach With Caution At All Times ..."

USS New Jersey's passage Northward to the Gulf of Mexico is taking her through a series of well-charted danger zones which Captain Kaare L. Ogaard has carefully laid out to avoid.  As he explained earlier, his plan is to maintain a position in the safest and deepest waters available to protect the towline.

However, the adventuresome and uninitiated may suffer the consequences of an ill-planned voyage in these waters.  The Sea Victory this morning received a "Distress Urgent Call to Area" from the U.S. Coast Guard's Rescue Coordination Center in Miami, Florida.  The same message went to all vessels in the area equipped with such emergency systems.

"Urgent Marine Information Broadcast," the advisory stated. "Coast Guard Miami received a report that motor vessel Viking Sky, call sign 3FGS6, is unreported on a voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Isla San Andres, Columbia.  All shipping is requested to maintain a sharp lookout and assist if possible.  Report sightings to U.S. Coast Guard RCC Miami."

This Western part of Mar Caribe "includes the off-lying dangers and islands which lie seaward of the 200M (656 Feet) curve off the Nicaraguan and Honduran coasts," some 180 Nautical Miles due West of USS New Jersey's current position.

This area, reportedly pristine, beautiful and attractive especially to curious beachcombers, is especially dangerous for sailors.  "Many of the cays and islands are on banks that are steep-to and composed of coral. These banks should be approached with caution at all times and given a wide berth at night.  The aids to navigation are unreliable, and the currents are fairly swift and unpredictable, especially after storms."

USS New Jersey's voyage through these waters toward the Gulf of Mexico is one thing, but along the coast of Nicaragua, due West, it's another story.

The Costa de Miskitos, Nicaragua, known popularly as the Mosquito Coast, is part of this Central American nation's "other country."   She is known to have such distinct physical, social and geological characteristics as between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, that she's been labeled a nation of two countries.

"The nation's Eastern wilderness remains a world apart from the politics and modern development of the Western cities," according to a popular map reference.

"These heavily forested tropical lowlands, stretching well into Eastern Honduras," (the native homeland of Sea Victory's AB Celso Martinez), were never colonized by Spain but were instead annexed by Britain in 1687 as the Miskito Kingdom at the request of Miskito Indian leaders, and their 'Kings' were crowned with due pomp in the Protestant 'cathedral' at Bluefields," Southwest of New Jersey's present position.

"Although this Caribbean coast is a paradise of dazzling beaches and idyllic off-shore cays, and the jungle teams with undisturbed wildlife, only a few hardy travelers reach this part of Central America.  Indeed, outsiders are banned from many areas.

Only one road leads east into Mosquitia - the paved road into the small settlement of Rama, from where most visitors take the famous 'Bluefields Express,' an overcrowded riverboat, down the Rio Escondido to the Caribbean port of Bluefields, named for 17th century Dutch pirate Abraham Blaauwveld.

Both towns were severely damaged by Hurricane Joan in 1988 but are steadily being re-built.  From here, the off-shore 'Corn Islands,' Islas del Maiz, are accessible - two English-speaking islands of white sand and palms, fringed by white coral and crystal water."

The USS New Jersey has brought her own history through an area rich with its own, yet in other ways, still an infant.

(Reference: International Travel Map, Kevin Healey's Central America)

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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