In the early evening, while moored in Schooner Cove as the sun was dropping, it was time for our ‘last supper’.
Ralph’s photo below puts everything into perspective. A beautiful photo at the end of a beautiful afternoon.
When moored, as distinct from motoring or sailing, passengers always ate dinner together downstairs in the saloon. Here the table was laid with an assortment of glasses and all the other required trappings. Our First Mate, who surely had enough to do managing the rest of the crew, each night took it upon herself to serve us and ensure we enjoyed our mealtime together. She did a sterling job night after night. Other crew members acted as go betweens from the cook in the gallery through the diner to hand over food and condiments to the First Mate, a process which went smoothly and speedily every night. To support our main course meal, a bottle of Tasmanian red and a white wine were opened for our consumption. On one occasion, at the end of a meal a tiny port in a tiny glass was poured for each of us; of course we smirked when some didn’t want theirs allowing another to imbibe a second.
The questions which dogged me throughout the voyage are, why when I say I will be happy with a heaped plate of a small or large variety of vegetables/plant matter every night that have been boiled/steamed or baked with a helping of seafood added on the side occasionally, is it almost impossible for people to believe I will be happy with this? And why is it when I advise to leave my food unadulterated and not make clever sauces or desserts or cakes or otherwise try and break the apparent monotony of my declared wish, people who prepare food for me think they can improve on what I choose to eat, that they can devise something I will enjoy more? This is a weakness not only on the ship but also amongst friends. I wonder if a PhD research project might not investigate the psychology of why simplicity in food seemingly cannot be considered sufficient in a public or group setting.
Despite this ‘weakness’, meal times were always interesting and a great deal of fun, and loved every moment.
I will always remember the companionable comradery of these occasions. Most particularly I will recall the laughter and sheer happiness of these gatherings; Ralph captured such a moment so well in the following photo.
I am particularly grateful for the following photo of all passengers, taken on Ralphs’s camera.
After dinner we suited up in wet weather gear as a protection from the expected cold winds (not a cloud in the sky) and moved out to sit around the aft deck while the crew prepared to depart. Sitting around we watched the first lights come from the moon and our closest planets; Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.
Over time, the sky filled with sparkling whites until it seemed as if a floral carpet was laid above in recognition of the native flower carpets we had encountered on our walks and climbs. Breathtaking speckled blackness, with no land light to diminish their brightness.
As our ship motored from the Channel, via the south passage, and travelled out into Port Davey we felt the swell rising. Not long after passing Big Caroline rock we edged out into the open sea. The swell was travelling from the west with a strong wind was blowing from the east. As we turned south we were now travelling over those irregular peaks and troughs so you can understand why things might become bumpy or, using the Captain’s word, lumpy. Next morning the Captain said the waves probably only reached two metres. Nevertheless because of the swell and the wind, the ship jerked around unpredictably. Of course, while on deck that night we were attached to the ship by harnesses to prevent accidents such as going overboard. Even then I felt I needed to hang on as we bucked and swayed. Gradually the others went to bed while I wondered if I could stay up until we turned east to motor along the south coast of Tasmania. The temperature was cooling and the wind was strong so I revised my hope; I would stay out until we had passed the various islands positioned off the coast not far south from Port Davey.
In the end and after feeling great peace with the skies and the seas and all my experiences, I struggled back inside. It was a challenge to stand and I grabbed at structures to keep upright. After plonking down in the diner to remove my harness, it defeated me and my agitation rose with each buckling of the sea. Independent me who prefers not to ask for help, gave in. Thankfully the Captain struggled with releasing the clip as well; something had locked itself incorrectly or twisted or some such, and I felt grateful for her help.
The next challenge was to lift my legs over the step over at the top of the stairs without falling backwards or down the stairs with each dramatic jerk of the ship. Down the ladder in one piece. Attempting to rehang my harness others were accidentally clipped and fell off, trying again and again while working hard to keep my balance. Eventually all were hooked appropriately and I grabbed my way to the cabin.
After climbing onto the bed and holding on, I felt like I would vomit. Fortunately seasickness is not my norm so I was surprised. However I think the agitation I felt upstairs combined with the constant, what seemed like extreme, movement set something off. If I climbed down from my bed I feared I would break a leg, so I grabbed a dry storage bag, held it to my mouth and waited. I had a sense of giving myself permission to be sick however disgusting. And then, with that permission, I wasn’t. So I tied the protective lead red cloth firmly and lay down no longer expecting to vomit. I didn’t fall asleep immediately and lay feeling the intensity of the rock and roll, and sometimes holding onto the bed above so that I remained on my bed. I couldn’t sleep on my side because the rolling of the ship slapped me onto my back in the horizontal position. “It occurred to me this was a beautiful fine night, no storm, no serious wind or breeze. This was the simple swell of a normal ocean.” Sometime later I fell asleep despite these bounding seas, but woke when the feeling of the waves changed. We had turned east and the water was less choppy, and the ship threw itself less. Calmly I drifted off and woke next morning ready for our last day. Ready to find and collect all my possessions that had moved radically through the night into crevices that I could never have imagined in a tiny cabin.