Stranded in Auckland

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March 8th 2009
Published: June 13th 2017
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Geo: -36.8474, 174.766

Thursday 05/03/09 At Sea going slowly Temps Air 26°C

Headset Harry

I thought I'd give you another insight to some of the passengers on board; I've named this person headset Harry.

As I've previously said in order to guarantee being able to use the gym's equipment when it opens in the morning you have to start queuing around 07:35 at the latest, and like myself headset Harry is one of the first people there. Without being to derogatory I need to paint the picture I'm faced with most morning, however I in no way wish to ridicule the guy as I think that given his age of 70+ the mere fact that he regularly attends gym is to be encouraged and it's a testament to his commitment.

Each morning he attends dressed in an off white Terry towelling dressing gown over the top of an off white vest and blue shorts; to finish off the ensemble there's red woollen socks that are down around his ankles as the elastics gone and a pair of brown trainers, (just bear in mind he's just walked through numerous public areas dressed like this). I strongly suspect the reason for the off white items is putting the red socks in the same wash as the other items, anyway, the reason I can be specific about his attire is that it hasn't changed since we left Southampton. He unfortunately he has a tendency to shake his head slightly from side to side, which, as he has deep Jowls something akin to the Churchill dog tends to give them the appearance of flapping. To finish of this mental picture for you he has thinning white hair and an overall gummy appearance which makes me think he's spent years entering gurning competitions, and winning.

I've called him headset Harry because each morning since we left his spent the time whilst we wait to get into the gym trying to get his headset to fit him comfortably. I never realised for the first couple of weeks just what was going on, even though I'm usually sat opposite him I've got my MP3 player plugged in so I'm oblivious to what's going on. Once I noticed that he'd got the headset on but the earpieces were in fact positioned immediately above his ears rather than over his ears, strange I thought.

The next day I paid more attention to his ritual of adjusting the headset, I originally thought the problem was that with little hair he headset band was just slipping down but it became immediately obvious that the problem was due to the fact it was a child's multimedia headset, and as the head band wasn't adjustable it couldn't extend so that it covered his ears; but there's more, much more. What I hadn't noticed previously was the mic boom was still attached so sometimes when he wore it the mike would be sticking out at all angles, making for a really odd sight, anyway mines not to reason, each to their own, so I left him to it and took no further notice.

Then last week I noticed him going through the routine of adjusting the headset, but now he'd tried to position the band at the back of his head similar to mine, but after a couple of minutes it'd drop back down and he'd be fiddling around trying another set of adjustments, all the time with head shaking from side to side and his jowls looking like they're flapping in the wind.

I next looked up he was sitting there as smug as hell with the ear muffs covering his ears and the band in his mouth, I couldn't believe it, he was actually holding the head band in place by gripping it with his teeth, (try picturing it yourself) it was all I could do not to laugh or slip my phone out and take a picture, this I had to watch. After a couple of minutes he tired of this and settled for positioning the band on the bridge of his nose, presumably so it couldn't slip down, and he wouldn't have to hold it in place with his teeth, so now's all's well in his world.

Once the gym finally opened I was off, straight to the treadmill and into my own personal world, soul music playing full blast in my ears, sun shining outside, all's well in my world. When I looked around there was headset Harry, a couple of machines across going for it for all his worth, with the headset on the bridge of his nose and the treadmill going at a fair rate of knots (faster than mine anyway.) But it's going so fast he can't keep up and he's slowly and irrevocably being propelled towards the end of the treadmill, with his arms at full stretch and holding onto the bar, and has to literally haul himself back up closer to the bar or be thrown off the end. This cycle continues for the full 20 minutes of his workout (he queues 25 mins for 20 mins exercise) so when you look at him for any length of time it almost looks like his rowing, try it yourself and see.

Anyway that's headset Harry, I genuinely don't mean to take the micky but it's such a spectacle, and all things considered I think he does marvellously well, all things considered.

Friday 06/03/09 At Sea Progress Update

We've just been informed by the Captain that required part along with engineers from Germany (the manufactures of both the ship and bearing) and engineers and technical experts from Singapore and Auckland will be at the quay side to meet us when we dock around midnight on Friday and will commence immediate repairs working through the night. In order to meet this timetable the remaining port in NZ; the Bay of Islands has now also been cancelled; for most this is a real tragedy as it's not only is the last port in NZ but it's also one of the highlights; as we were there 2 years ago the impact isn't so great for us although it's none the less disappointing.

Saturday 07/03/09 Auckland - New Zealand Temps Air 25°C

Progress Update

Shortly after breakfast we were advised that despite working through the night it would take another day to complete the repairs, and it was therefore anticipated we'd be leaving Sunday evening, (see what did I tell you)

We hade already booked tickets to visit Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World located along Tamaki Dr which is a scenic route which skirts around the harbour. We wanted to stop and take photos when we were here last time but there's very few parking areas and those that there were, were all full so we missed then opportunity. This time we decided to walk the 8 Km there and back as it was such a great day it seemed a shame to go by bus. The Underwater World is certainly not to be missed if you're in the area it's one of the best aquarium / underwater worlds I've visited. We were there in time for the feeding of the stingrays and the young female diver / assistant introduced herself and her younger male assistant who looked about 15 weighed around 8 stone and couldn't fit in the wetsuit, she informed us it was his first time in the pool and went on to explain that there were 4 stingrays in the pool the mother who was 45 years old and 3 of her daughters who were 15.

After an explanation of their habitat and lifecycle she started to feed the rays by both hand and throwing the feed around the pool, with the rays coming to the surface to feed. Unfortunately for the lad, he had the bucket of feed and one the rays materialised directly in front of him and powered itself up his front making for an opportunistic photo opportunity, as he dropped the feed in shock the ray achieved what it set out to do. After further 5 minutes or so he ended up against the glass wall of the aquarium when the mother (who's an impressive sight) along with one of the other rays literally skimmed the surface of the water and launched themselves directly up his front causing him to stumble and very nearly go under, the instructor was there in a flash and once he had gained his composure she asked him if he wanted to continue, to the lads credit he decided to remain, I'm sure it was an encounter her recall for many a year.

On the way back to the ship we called into the local supermarket to stock up with liquid essentials.

Sunday 08/03/09 Auckland - New Zealand Temps Air 24°C

Today we decided to tackle the coast to coast walk across the isthmus separating the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea a journey of some 18 km without some of the additional side routes we had planned. After a ½ hour bus ride to the start on the coast of the Tasman Sea we set off in blazing sunshine to tackle the first leg which takes up the extinct volcano known as one tree hill in Cornwall Park. The views from here were fantastic and we could see the coast lines of both our starting and ending positions, in addition to our next objective the impressive cone of Mount Eden. Whilst it's not very high at only 600' it's the prominent landmark on the landscape.

Having eventually reached the summit absolutely cream crackered I was greeted with the sight of three amazing calderas and some absolutely stunning panoramic views it was certainly well worth the effort. After that we made our way through the park to the Domain where there's the war museum and an observatory along with formal gardens and recreational areas, it was then a ½ hr walk back to the ship and some well deserved liquid refreshment.

Progress Update

The Captain announced that the thrust bearing had successfully been replaced but upon final x-ray examination it was discovered that the failure had caused more damage than expected and as a result the two South Sea Islands of Moorea and Papeete (the capital of Tahiti) were now being cancelled in order to be able to make a direct journey to our scheduled stop in Honolulu and recommence our scheduled trip. I can't describe to you the atmosphere within the ship. For us personally the trip had always been about the final two legs of the journey, the South Sea Islands, the journey through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean Islands of Curacao & Antigua. The whole ship has been plunged into deep and desperate pessimism, it then transpired that the Aurora was the ship which in 2007 having set off from Southampton spent a week travelling around the Isle of Weight because of failure of yes, you've guessed it a faulty thrust bearing! Well the rumours are rife now so much so that's it's impossible to tact from fantasy.

Monday 09/03/09 Auckland - New Zealand (Still) Temps Air 24°C

Well we've got more time than expected to sightsee here so we're taking the ferry over the river to Devonport, which is a charming town of speciality shops, cafés, restaurants, and three extinct volcanoes. We had another great day climbing to the top of both Mt Victoria and North Head, hopefully we'll climb the other one tomorrow as it's our last day (see positive thoughts) superb coffee in a local café, time spent leisurely perusing in the local shops, all of which are small local affairs no big chain stores or multinationals, a trip around the Navy museum and back across the water to the ship.

Progress Update

The Captain announced this evening that he's confident that we'll now be sailing WEDNESDAY NIGHT around 23:30 and we should be able to make Honolulu on time. Now that a confirmed time was given a compensation package is being worked out to cover for the missed ports, excursions paid for, and the inconvenience caused to our holiday. As a gesture of goodwill (ha, we all know about them) they're providing a free excursion to guess where, yes, Devonport! In addition free wine will be provided with the evening meal along with a limited free bar after the meal.

As you may imagine the evening meal was a noisy affair with much joviality. It made a change to see some people on tables near to us, who, previously have never raised their voices during dinner and often frowned at the general merriment on our table, now laughing with absolute abandonment.

The thought of so many people who normally don't drink being plied with free alcohol makes me wonder what the outcome will be, it certainly won't be restrained, or polite if their normal behaviour is anything to go by. The latest complaint from the blue rinse brigade is, as we don't drink alcohol, and fruit juice with the evening meal isn't the same, will we be able to claim extra compensation?

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