February 09, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 35

Day 35 – At Sea. There are a number of perils at sea, there have been for many years. Many of them today are a much lesser risk due to new standards, materials, systems, and seamanship practices. Hitting an iceberg and sinking is very unlikely. Pirates still roam the seas, but in very limited areas of the world. Illness, which still can run rampant through a ship is very unlikely to result in mass casualties. Running aground today is usually just an inconvenience (Concordia excepted). Of all perils, probably fire is the most feared today.

We are headed North Easterly on a course that is expected to take us to Sydney tomorrow. About 3 AM I am awakened by the smell of smoke in my cabin. At first I wonder am I just dreaming? Did the ships alarm awaken me? Neither. I turn on a light. Everything in the cabin appears normal, the hallway is quiet. I conclude that the prudent thing to do is to call the front desk. They answer promptly, even at 3 in the morning. The source is located, the ship has passed through a cloud of smoke originating on land, and it was pulled into the ventilation systems before they could be shut down.

Yes, with this additional information I conclude it was probably from a garbage dump or trash incinerator, there is a distinctive smell to burning garbage. With any concern relieved, but wide awake, I email yesterday's post then crawl back into bed. Most of the passengers never smelled the smoke, that is probably a good thing. By the time I shower at 8:30 the odor is mostly gone.

The morning temperatures are in the low 60's. The skies are mostly clear, and the seas are nearly flat. We need to travel quite a bit East before we can head North to Sydney. There are a few other ships in the distance.

I go to the Lido for my usual bowl of Special K. Still plenty of cereal, but they have run out of skim milk. I have to settle for 1%. I assume the ship stores will be replenished in Sydney

The workers continue to work on the life boat repairs from sunrise to sunset, again having lowered the boat to the dock for easier access while we were in Melbourne. The work crew has increased to four. Two from Harding, and two that I suspect are from the ships regular crew. The fiberglass work appears to be progressing, but slowly. The outside 25% of the hull can only be reached while the lifeboat is on the pier. Mechanical repairs of the shafts and props don't appear to have commenced. I suspect they are awaiting replacement parts, in which case installation should only take a few hours once they get the correct parts.

When we reach Sydney we are going to loose about 150 to 200 passengers and board a smaller number of new passengers. The weather forecast for our first day in Sydney is for sunny skies and temperatures between the high 60's and high 70's. I hope they are right, but weather forecasts have a way of disappointing many.

I listen to retired astronomer Alan Wright for the last time this morning, he is disembarking in Sydney and returning home to Tasmania. I've said it before, but worth repeating, he is probably the best speaker I have ever encountered as a guest lecturer on a ship.

Tonight there will be a Mardi Gras party in the crow's nest from 9 to 11 PM. By noon the room has been heavily decorated with purple gold and green streamers and hundreds of "coins" spread out on all the tables. The bar is even using Mardi Gras napkins instead of the usual plain white. Masks and beads will be given to guests. The table decorations are cleared for "tea" and then restored for the evening activities. I take a few pictures.

HAL has a team of employees with the sole responsibility of decorating for various activities. My understanding this staff is added only for the World Cruise. Much of their work is done in the middle of the night while most of the ship sleeps.

With a long tour first thing in the morning, I decide to forgo the Mardi Gras party and retire early. Maybe I will even be up in time to get pictures of our arrival into Sydney Harbor and our docking at the White Bay Cruise Terminal.