Edit Blog Post
Published: February 5th 2013
So long Sydney.
Boarding the Voyager was a breeze and we were soon whisked to our cabin. Our luggage was there waiting for us even the supplies that were shipped from Seattle by Cruise Specialists. After some quick unpacking and attending the emergency drill, it was time to hightail it to the aft deck for our sail out of the beautiful Sydney Harbor. We pulled away from the pier right at sunset on a sultry evening and sailed under the Sydney Bridge, past the Opera House and out the Sydney Heads into the Tasman Sea. It couldn’t have been better timing for a departure and a great way to start this Grand Voyage.
The next night Captain Sanguineti welcomed us guests and introduced his staff. Most of the passengers were dressed up in tuxes and evening gowns and we saw many familiar faces in the crowd. The ship looks in fine shape and it is running pretty full and will be all the way to London.
Just as we arrived off of Brisbane we were rudely greeted by the tail end of Cyclone Oswald. The big storm had already played havoc in northeastern Australia and was now heading down the coast. This
being Australia Day, it put a huge damper on all the scheduled shoreside celebrations and for us it caused major schedule changes to our cruising. The pilot had difficulty reaching our ship, so we were late arriving in port and then when we got there it was determined that we would have to spend the night rather than continuing on to our next port of call. The seas were quite rough and the wind and rain were pretty extreme. Most of the tours went out in spite of the weather and later we saw passengers returning to the ship looking a little worse for wear. We have friends who live on the Gold Coast, about an hour south of Brisbane and they managed to get to the ship and join us for lunch on board. It was so great to see Margie and John, whom we have sailed with many times. We reminisced about mutual friends and the fun times we have shared. They love cruising and know most of the staff on the ship.
The next morning we left the dock as the port of Brisbane was closing due to the severe weather. The Voyager had to anchor
Fun for everyone under the "Hanger"
in the protected waters of Moreton Bay for 30 hours until the cyclone passed. This caused us to miss the upcoming ports of Whitsunday Islands and Cairns which was quite a disappointment for many passengers. We felt sorry for guests who have never been to this part of the world and would miss visiting the Great Barrier Reef. However, that is part of cruising or any vacation for that matter, as Mother Nature always bats last. The Queensland government declared a state of emergency due to the severe flooding and damage.
In the midst of all this wild weather our friend Bob had to be evacuated from the ship via helicopter and taken to a Brisbane hospital. Unfortunately his wife was not allowed to accompany him on the chopper. She had to stay in touch with Bob and his doctors by telephone while all the medical tests were being done.
When we were cleared to proceed on our way, we encountered some pretty big swells and high winds. We had our first Cruise Specialists party and most of our guests, seasoned sailors that they are, showed up in spite of the rocky conditions. By the second day out
Sydney Opera House at dusk.
we were enjoying tropical sailing at its best—sunny weather and smooth seas.
Captain Wallace Cray is the reef pilot who is not only guiding our ship safely through the coastal reefs but also gave some very interesting lectures on Captain Cook and the infamous Captain Bligh. Verne Lundquist also gave some hilarious lectures covering the sports world.
After seven days on the ship we put our feet on dry land at Cooktown on the York Peninsula. This small outpost has great historical significance as this is where Captain James Cook beached the HMB Endeavour in 1770 after having run up on a nearby reef. Cooktown reached its apex one hundred years later when gold was discovered. There were hundreds of buildings housing pubs, banks, brothels and gambling halls. During WWII the town was evacuated and it has never returned to its former glory.
Our first ship’s tour was out to Black Mountain National Park to see some of the unusual granite rock formations. When heated by the sun and then hit by cold rain, the granite boulders explode. The noisy fracturing can be heard for miles around. This enormous pile of rocks plays heavily into Aboriginal folklore
and has been the site of many mysterious disappearances of people, cattle and horses—never to be seen again.
After leaving Cooktown we rounded the northern most point of Australia. Torres Strait is the narrow passage between Papua New Guinea and Australia’s York Peninsula. Anthropologists believe this was probably a land bridge which the Aboriginals crossed from Asia to settle on this continent.
Darwin was our last stop in Australia. Shortly before our arrival there was a "Code Mike" emergency call to the crew quarters. Sadly, Jackie the lead singer had passed away in her cabin. This vivacious 24 year old was on our South America cruise last year and had just boarded in Sydney this year. The ship was detained overnight until it was determined that she died of natural causes. Staff and passengers were stunned by the sorrowful news.
As a result of our delay, we were in port for the Super Bowl broadcast. We cheered our 49ers on and patiently waited through the 35 minute power failure in New Orleans. I guess there was a power outage for the 49ers also. But it was a very exciting game all the way to the end.
We received clearance from the authorities to leave Australia just as the Super Bowl finished. This has been a very unusual beginning to the voyage. We are hoping for smooth sailing from here on out. Now we are on our way to Asia---a favorite of ours.
Tot: 0.441s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 13; qc: 31; dbt: 0.012s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb