Friday, 15 April 2005

I started this part of the account mid-morning off the coast from Warrnambool, which Noeline, Lyn, the kids and I drove through on our way to Port Fairy a long time ago. I couldn't even see the land from where I was.

A Melbourne shopkeeper had said to me, "You wouldn't believe that it was 32 degrees here yesterday" - yes I would - typical of Melbourne I reckoned to myself. It was raining and quite cool and Klaus and I were getting wet on our way to town, he declaring, "It's no problem - I'm a seafarer," but I swallowed my pride and flagged down a taxi. As you can see from the porthole photo of the city skyline, it was no distance and the fare to the edge of the inner city area was less than ten dollars. We walked in to the centre and then as usual, parted for the day.

I had a wander about the Victoria Market to find a couple of light tee shirts, which will allow me to confine clothes washing to once a week. Later on it got so cool that I put both of them on to keep warm. For additional comfort I found a snug haven serving yummy coffee cake and excellent coffee. The highlight of the day was having a good hot curry and a glass of red in a funny little tucked-away place in an ally between some shops. By chance I walked past the Last Laughs Cafe and there were banners about town advertising the next comedy festival which brought back good memories. By mid-afternoon I was ready for "home" so lined up for the free City Circle tram but had to wait nearly an hour and then it was jam-packed. Docklands was my stop and I had a bit of a look around Newquay which is a new development with apartments a bit like the nautical-styled ones on Auckland wharves. From there I phoned for a taxi and was back onboard in time for tea and very pleased to be there.

Loading went on into the night. The Aussies operate those big gantry things like fury and fairly throw the containers aboard, crashing them down and shaking the whole ship. In contrast, the Aucklanders were very gentle. I decided to stay up to watch the departure but dozed off at some late hour. A bit of movement had me awake again (1.20am?) so I slipped into my cloths and went on deck. There were only lights on one side of us. Bloody hell! We were outside the harbour already. On checking the clock I found that it must have actually read 4.05 - I had missed the lot. There was quite a goodly swell at one stage during the morning. I had a stack of twenty-cent pieces on the table and they hadn't fallen over so although the movement was big, it was still gentle.

We had been through two time zones so far putting our clocks back an hour for Noumea and another hour for Sydney. Somehow they slow all the ship's timepieces down over-night and your cabin wall clock reads the new correct time next morning - very strange to witness if you happen to be awake and checking, as happened to me one such night and I began to suspect my watch of playing up.

Thinking of time again: I nearly missed lunch. Relaxation is setting in.

Alex, the steward (real name Alejandro) saw some of my photos and asked for a selection on CD so for a bit of entertainment I took a time-delay shot of us together and then amusing myself by attempting to frame his portrait within a Marfret lifebuoy. I know it was taking a bit of a risk because, if it proved appealing, all fifteen or so might be lining up for a similar portrait. The idea comes from remembering photographers in Rarotonga (Maree's age ago) specialising in selling portraits set in hibiscus flowers that were very garish and very popular.

The conference room was across and one along from mine and I found a carton of files there with maps and brochures that have been collected from various ports of call so I looked in the Adelaide one and found a map showing that there is a railway line running from the port to a station at Torrens Park where my cousin Pat and Rosie live. The city also has a network of bicycle lockers and of course, myriad bus routes. It makes you realise how backward Auckland is.

Saturday, 16 April 2005

I had just come in off deck from watching the tugs spin us around and nudge the ship in against the dock when the first glimmer of dawn appeared in the sky completely from the wrong direction so I had to do a little diagram to get myself oriented. We were the only ship there and the wharf looked to have just four gantry cranes. The approach was like coming into a marina between long breakwaters that appeared more like a farmer's dry stone walls than bulwarks against the ocean. Like Noumea, it had a single dock area with birthing confined to one side. Moments before tying up, a crewman locks all the external doors on every deck except A deck so that the only access inside is through a door at that level on the opposite side from the wharf. Locked grills seal off the external stairs as well. Consequently I was shut outside with the only access back to my cabin being via the bridge, which is no problem although that too is locked when the officers have finished their paper work.


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