If you were to read our itinerary published before leaving Florida, you would expect that we would be anchoring at the Sherrard Island Anchorage tonight. Well that just isn't going to be. We have been told several stories. The historic purpose of the anchorage was to provide a place for the captain and crews of sailing vessels to get some sleep. That really doesn't apply to modern vessels. Then we were told that we weren't stopping because we would be arriving after sunset and that wouldn't make sense as there would be nothing to see. It wasn't mentioned that if we had set our speed to arrive before sunset, we would have. We are cruising only at slightly more than 50 percent of our rated speed.
The latest rationale is that if we stopped, additional officers would be required to weigh anchor when we left, and that we may need to turn on an additional generator in order to make Darwin on schedule. An additional generator means more cost. More cost means less profit. Isn't crude oil selling at bargain prices now?
Most passengers agree, this may be as close as we will get to the real reason. By not stopping, profits are enhanced.
What are we missing by not stopping? Nobody knows, but probably not much. There is also the speculation there was never any intention to stop here, but by listing it on the itinerary, it looked like we would have fewer sea days.
We are headed towards Darwin by following a channel between Australia and the great barrier reef. Our course zig zags along the coast, but basically we are headed North or North West and then will be headed more Westerly later tonight. There are numerous small barrier islands, some barely sticking above the water, others fairly large, but none appear to be inhabited. The channel can not be judged by open water and in some places the channel is barely wide enough for two ships to pass, even though the span of water between land masses is several miles.
The ship is actually pretty quiet today. A little too warm for the deck walkers, the big "sale" on the Lido deck by the pool only draws a handful of attendees, and few people ever use either of the pools. After Barbara's talk on Darwin, and the morning lecture on the economic and social benefits of well managed tourism, I return to my cool cabin to type.
There was another sighting the other morning, I think about the fourth of the cruise so far. A gentleman on the elevator, headed to the Lido, wearing only his boxer shorts. No robe or slippers. Enough said.
I chat with Pat during happy hour. He is one of the "other" captains on the ship but not rated for this tonnage. Yesterday he spent much of his day with the Captain Mercer and his wife being tourists in Cairns. One detail of interest, the captain has been telling the home office for years to not include the Sherrard Island Anchorage in the itinerary. The home office doesn't listen, but once on the high seas the captain is the boss so we don't stop.
Speaking of Happy Hour, Jeremy and Oliver usually serve about 30 customers. Sometimes fewer, and occasionally more. They also serve hot appetizers which I have totally resisted so far, and peanuts and goldfish. Yesterday they ran out of goldfish, and when asked when they would have more, Oliver didn't know because fishing is prohibited around the great barrier reef. I didn't make this up, I'm just repeating what I hear.
Simple dinner in the Lido, now off to listen to Debby for an hour and then the main show for the evening, Gary Guthman on the Trumpet.
Debby finally has her voice back. One of the difficulties of working on a ship is that there are no such things as days off because you don't feel well. Her entire routine tonight was songs about animals. I'm sure just for my children she played the Chicken Dance and about 20 people danced. Of course the bribe of 10 grand dollars each may have been an influence. It's amazing what people will do for a few cents.
Gary's program was mostly songs from the 40's. The theater is a little over half full, the smallest attendance for any show so far. I think his program is too old even for this crowd.
I had always mistakenly thought that time zones were fairly well organized. Well I am learning differently. Tonight we set our clocks back ½ hour for the next time zone in Darwin. Whether in 30 minute steps or an hour, by the end of April I will be back on Eastern time. It is 9:12 PM here, and 6:42 AM in Florida. Tomorrow is another sea day.