The decision had been made that our injured passenger, with the supposed strained/sprained ankle, must fly back to Hobart because she was not sufficiently stable to endure whatever rough seas the home voyage might throw at us. Definitely the best idea considering what followed overnight. Preparations were made.
Her Par Avion flight was due to fly out at 10am so two zodiacs left to transport her to Melaleuca around 8am (regulations insist that if one zodiac is going out of sight then two must go – this meant there were no spares for us to use to leave the ship). Ralph’s photos show the final departure from our ship and our company. “Our tiny ‘family’ has shrunk.”
Eventually they were gone from sight, but with our best wishes and hopes for a beautiful flight.
However no-one believed that a plane could arrive from Hobart because of the extensive cloud cover descending deeply down on the surrounding mountains, the sort which would prevent an aircraft reaching Melaleuca. And so it was.
The plane left Hobart but couldn’t get through and turned back. A new time of a 1pm departure was set. That flight was aborted also. Eventually a plane was able to arrive and our fellow passenger and husband, minus their luggage which was more than the full plane could take, departed after 3 in the afternoon. We were relieved for them. If waiting on the ship ever became tedious then waiting at a tiny airstrip without any sort of amusement and a bung leg would have been excruciatingly tedious. I am sure it required great presence of mind to live through. Later I learnt that clear skies on the trip back to Hobart presented them with sensational views of the country below; they loved the experience of their return flight. A day later we learnt her leg broken so I am glad she flew and didn’t return by ship– more about that last voyage in a subsequent blog post.
During the day, Ralph recorded the Captain having something to say. Look over her shoulder. We all stared.
The cloud across distant mountains was reminiscent of a draped skein of a cotton wool. We took lots of photos and gaped, none of us ever having seen such a spectacle.
Those waiting for hours at the airstrip and those waiting on the ship had been at the mercy of the south west Tasmanian weather, none of which anyone had control over. I didn’t and I doubt anyone else thought to resent this wait. We all knew that any one of us could have had an accident in this wilderness location, and we would have wanted a similar care and concern. This free time gave me the opportunity for catching up on writing new notes in my journal, playing and inventing card games with the crew, bantering and laughing with the others, completing Sudoku puzzles and reading. “Live in the moment, I counselled myself. Ah for a shot or two of an alcoholic beverage! Being on a ship is a reminder to be patient, to be accepting of change, to really appreciate the consequences of weather and its effect on a ship’s ability/capacity to move appropriately for the greatest comfort and safety of passengers. Of course, if you are the Captain or First Mate there is much to think about, make decisions on, manage the actions of others – those are jobs of contrived awareness and perpetual activity even though conducted physically in slow ways. Slow does not mean sloth. Speedy movements on this ship would lead to accidents. Sharp jerky movements would endanger. Slow, careful, measured, alert are the desirable characteristics. Regular patterns of behaviour create habits, and the familiarity keeps us all safe. I realise that I am a darter, moving speedily from here to there in an instant, immediacy being my love. I curbed that style…”
Ralph’s photo, with Mt Rugby in the distance, is an example of how relaxed we became.