Sea days Friday 19th August to 23rd August
I, or should I say we, witnessed a feat of “daring do” when we left Raiatea. To approach and leave this island is very tricky because the shallows are very shallow (as it where!). Therefore, a local pilot is bought on board. He has the “knowledge” of where the deeper channels are hidden in order to manoeuvre the ship and navigate us through to safety.
Under normal circumstances we would have a pilot boat to guide us, but in this instance he had to actually come on board. Sounds simple until you realise that he had to board a moving ship from a small power boat which was buffeting about in our wake! When I watched they made several attempts to “line up” beside us before they could get him close enough to grab the ladder and climb up onto the deck. That is skill.
We crossed the international date line on 20th but the celebration and photograph was canned because of high wind and rain. Goodbye tropics, hello winter again! BooHoo.
So Saturday became Sunday with a church services, traditional Sunday Brunch, half a day ahead of GMT instead of half a day behind and, in reality, was Raiatea 3 or 4 sea days from Auckland? We are now about to dock in Auckland and I still don’t know the answer to that one. My brain has turned to mush.
Auckland, New Zealand Wednesday 24th August
It was overcast and dull, not the best of days. I went on a tour, saw MacDonalds and Nandos through the rain obscured bus window (back in civilisation again) visited the War Museum and watched Mauri dancers demonstrate the Hakka (is that how you spell it?) and saw then (would you belived it) saws the same troop do the same demo back on the ship that evening. Essentially $199 to take a drive and see a show that I then saw again for free. Oh what fun!
Next stop Sydney, but first we had to take a detour to avoid a massive storm that had been trying to envelope us for several days. The seas were very rough. Not good.
Sydney, Australia Sunday 28th August
It was a beautiful sunrise as we pulled into Sydney. I took a few photographs (including a selfie – when did I get caught up in this childish crap?), had breakfast and went to the allotted departure lounge where I was meeting up with friends to share a taxi to the airport.
They were late and when they eventually arrived they were in all of a dither having just seen a drug bust on the 5th deck where they lived and where we used to hang out at the café/bar. As they passed through on the way to meet me they had witnessed a couple of girls that also hung out at this bar being arrested by five police officers with a sniffer dog. These girls are very attractive, but extremely flirt and seemed totally out of place of a ship where the average passenger age was 72!
It was a bit of excitement but we thought they had just been taking dope. However, when we got back to Melbourne it was blasted all over the news that 3 Canadians had been arrested, a 63 year old male and two females aged 22 and 28, following the discovery of 4 suitcases in two cabins containing almost 100 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of 31 million! Wow!!
How on earth they managed to get 4 heavy suitcases onto the ship is a mystery because, as you can imagine, the security is massive. Apparently they boarded in Southampton and allegedly work with a “very well organised syndicate”. No doubt more information will come out when they appear in court on 26th October.
Tim Fitzgerald, the regional commander for the Australia Boarder Force that because the ship had stopped at a number of South American ports it was considered a high risk vessel. Cheers for that!