Stage Eleven – Shipping news! CC Coral from Taiwan to New Zealand – overland from UK 2 NZ

New day in the Coral Sea from CC Coral Bridge
New day in the Coral Sea

On the twelfth day of Coral, last day in the Coral Sea, we headed east travelling 16.7 knots.

Chart showing position at 08:00
Chart showing position at 08:00 and a No Go area where we did not go
Entirely utilitarian colours and shapes on board a container ship
Rope burns on board a container ship
Faint Australian smoke haze on horizon
Australian smoke haze on horizon

As the day wore on the sea calmed.

Afternoon calm Coral Sea
Afternoon calm Coral Sea

On hearing the fire alarm, I reported to the Bridge as suggested at lunch time by the Captain. Instead of worrying about putting out fires, we chatted about my blog and the previous passenger, successful writer, Philippe Garnier. Perhaps some of his publishing acumen will rub off on my head from the very pillow we have shared (clearly not at the same time). We also looked at the charts, noting the approach to Auckland, following shipping channels we go around the top of the North Island. Presumably Manakau Harbour is too shallow. We will be passing Whangarparoa where my mother used to reside. We looked at the Economic Exclusion Zones around Australia and by extension, her territories. Norfolk Island has to be good for something.

Smooth limid sea where the Tasman meets the Coral
Smooth limid sea where the Tasman meets the Coral

After the fire drill put out the (fictional) fire in the laundry – started in the dryer apparently – there was another practice for Abandon Ship. Win appeared on the Bridge and waved frantically at me. I think part of his duties must be taking care of passengers in times of crisis. I followed him to my cabin where we picked up the immersion suit, trotted downstairs and got fitted for my lifejacket. The Chief tested my light. The crew ranged along the deck beside the lifeboat. Half of them headed to port (in theory) but as they were only launching the one lifeboat they came back again to watch how to disentangle the attachment to the mother ship.

Abandon ship! CC Coral drill
Abandon ship! CC Coral drill

It was disconcerting to imagine the desperate conditions that might call for this action to be done in necessity. Everyone was wearing boiler suits and safety boots. I supposed another drill might find them in pyjamas?

Crew in full kit CC Coral
Crew in full kit CC Coral – that’s Cookie talking to Win, the Messman, not normally wearing boiler suits!

Once everyone had seen the boat swing out and a frisson of imagination ran through the group, the little boat’s engine started and the steering was checked while still swinging in mid-air.

watching the lift boat over a calm sea CC Coral crew
watching the lift boat over a calm sea CC Coral crew

Then the life-jackets came off, everything neatly stored away and I took my immersion suit back and slung it in the wardrobe. These were the things that might save their lives one day and it was serious. That said, as with every drill, there was a lightness, a sense of being let out of school, to balance that fear. When one of the regular mini-alarms sounded down by the engines, one of the crew looked to a superior and dashed off to attend to it. Generally it was an orderly affair. It was colourful. The absolutely clear pale blue sky smoothed into the bright, curvaceous quiet sea. The men gathered on the green deck wearing their navy-blue boiler suits striped with yellow and white reflecting tape. The orange lifejackets matched the orange lifeboat. The Pacific Ocean looked as peaceful and guileless as it possibly could. I noted no plastic, no rubbish, no fish, no birds, no fisherfolk, no other vessels. If there were fish there would be fishing boats, right?

We were in the Lord Howe Rise, a good place to do a drill while the waters were calm. If it’s called the Rise is it more shallow?

Good place for a fire drill?
Lord Howe Rise (note EEZ) Good place for a fire drill?

The wing deck was decorated with squiggles of swallow poo after our day in port.

We had dinner at 16:00. Every day the ship’s clock got put forward another hour. I felt like I was eating all day.

Instructions for the conservation of life, CC Coral
Instructions for the conservation of life, CC Coral

Sometimes different engines; washing machine, air con humming and the vibration of the ship’s physical parts set up harmonics. I heard far off Gregorian chants as I sat on the toilet. Perhaps it was the dirge of a sad sea shanty. Somewhere deep in a boiler room a French horn player regularly sounded a solitary solemn note. Sometimes tintinnabulation rang through my head but I could not tell if it was from the metallic alarms or from me.

Australian haze over the Tasman Sea
Australian haze over the Tasman Sea

9 responses to “Stage Eleven – Shipping news! CC Coral from Taiwan to New Zealand – overland from UK 2 NZ

  1. Have completed page 1.. thrilled

  2. Epic voyage and marvellously engaging account! So evocative, I could almost smell the fumes and feel the engines rumble. Some magical moments, poignant ones, lots of fun facts. I feel like I vicariously experienced something I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. Thank you, dear, V! So many wonderful words!

  3. Thank you, Lucy! The things I do so you don’t have to! Bon voyage to you – long and short!

  4. Reading this, all pages, after you have been in Aotearoa NZ for just over one month. What an awesome adventure. But also conveying the sense of that disembodied vessel and its occupants chugging through the different seas.I hope you do feel that you are safely home.

    “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

    • Thank you, Pen, I am certainly in one of my homes! But I am certainly enjoying the music, scenery and of course, mainly, my good friends in Aotearoa.

  5. Glad you made it safe. And met new friends! So good!

  6. Thank you, Gelfling!

  7. epic quote “As usual, the more you know, the less you know and the more I smelled.” err ! diesel fumes and the sea = roiling nausea
    So happy you got the upgrade to the Owner’s. Really enjoying your experience of the high seas and can’t wait to read more!!!

Leave a Reply