Since I had no choice but to leave Australia I figured I might as well do it in a memorable way.
I have also discovered I have a severe dislike of flying. Or anything to do with an airport. (especially the official bits)
There seemes to be many pro’s of travelling by ship.
- You don’t have a luggage restriction And you don’t need to pull your bicycle apart and stuff it in a little box.
- You have a room and a bed so you can sleep gloriously during overnight travel.
- It is very relaxing, you go through time zones slowly so you don’t get jet-lagged.
- You don’t need to wait in line for customs and quarantine. They come to you.
- You meet some very interesting characters along the way.
- It is great to see how life, work and play go together on a ship and in port.
- All meals are included in the price…
But that’s where the one Con kicks in.
That and the fact it takes quite a bit of organising, but I have to say that Julie at freighterexpeditions has been extremely helpful,
I reckon the pros far outweigh the cons.
I absolutely loved the short trip that took me from Brisbane,
across the Tasman sea,
And now I don’t ever want to fly again. Which obviously is not going to work very well with my budget.
But well, I’ll see what might happen in the future
But let me tell you about the ship.
I didn’t know what to expect because this was for me a first. I’ve been on the Barge coming from Cape York and the ferry to Tasmania. So I had expected the room to be poky and tiny.
I was welcomed by the Captain
who took me to my room and told me to get comfortable.
The ship was still loading and customs would come on board later in the day.
My room had its own bathroom, a comfy bed. A tv & dvd player. A kettle, a big couch and a table and a long desk & cupboard. Then there was still lots of storage space and if I wanted to I could run around in circles… It was bigger then most hotel rooms I ever stayed in!
But I didn’t need to run around in circles in my room for I was allowed to wander around the ship,
up and down the stairs all the way up to the bridge,
here the Captain, the first, second,
and third mates take turns making sure we won’t hit an iceberg or get lost.
I even got to steer the ship! It’s actually a bit harder than I thought but lucky there’s no trees out here I can crash into like I did on my driving-test back in Oz. But, funny enough, when I steered a little out of course the Chief Engineer came running up from the engine room to see what the ### was going on. Oops.
But when he noticed it was ‘just’ me steering the ship it was alright. And he offered to show me the engine room too.
It is all the way down in the deep depths of the back of the ship, and it is absolutely massive!
So many wheels and odd bits and pieces I had no idea half the time.
But I knew what a piston is. And he showed me the piston that goes in the engine, it was about a meter wide!’ He told me the ship uses 60.000$ worth of fuel every day(!) and has its own fresh water making system. It’s all new and very interesting to me.
This vessel is registered in Germany. The Captain, the Chief Engineer and a Bunch of officers are German too. The rest of the crew came from the Philippines.
On the first day I met the other passengers.
There was a couple from France, Pierrette and Rudolf,
And two Australian couples.
Kevin & Mary,
who are well experienced with this kind of travel since they have been doing it for 30-odd years, and are very keen on revolving restaurants.
And Pam & Bernard, originally from NZ & South Africa.
We all had our meals in the same room as the officers while the rest of the crew had their separate mess-room.
For some reason the other 6 passengers sat at a table together, but I was placed next to the Captain
and ate with the chief engineer, 1st mate and 3rd mate. Since they’re all German I struggled a little bit keeping the conversation going. Apparently they don’t talk an awful lot. The captain actually told me he preferred cargo much over passengers since containers can’t talk…
The wonderful thing of being on ‘German Territory’ was that they had excellent coffee on board. Good bread as well.
All the meals were distinctly German too. Like the Tartar we were served on the 3rd night.
Nothing else but raw mince, a raw egg and raw onion. I was the only one of the passengers brave enough to eat it as it came. The others preferred it cooked. It wasn’t bad.
After a few days the Germans loosened up a little and I had a great evening over a few beers out the back of the ship.
Watching the stars and the moon rise over the big wide open sea was wonderful.
I liked the gentle rolling of the ship and it surprised me I never got seasick, slightly hangover yes. But not seasick
Sitting there chatting the chief engineer mentioned he hadn’t spent much time in Australia, but he really enjoys camping in ‘Outback Germany’
He has a farm back home so was particularly interested in the tractors and big farms I’ve been spending time at over here.
During the day while everybody on the ship is at work,
or asleep, it is nice to have a look around. Find out what everybody is upto and trying not to be too much in the way.
Or taking a dip in the pool, enjoying the sauna or use the little gym they have. I never set one step in the gym. But the pool, that gets filled up with seawater ever day was rather enjoyable.
For me the trip could’ve last a lot longer, but on the last morning New Zealand was in sight,
A little bit sad.
But an amazing experience to arrive in the harbour of Auckland seeing so many little boats around and the whole hustle and bustle of a ship being steered in the right direction,
first by a Pilot who came on board to get us near the docks.
And then with two tug boats who towed us into place.
It was late afternoon and it was alright to stay one more night on board.
When I got on I had all my gear packed like I was going on a flight. But now everything was spread out all over my room. The quarantine officer didn’t seem to mind and sat happily chatting in the middle of all the mess while approving my pathetic attempts of cleaning bicycle and camping gear….
Surprisingly my fully loaded touring bike didn’t fit into the elevator so the chief engineer came up with the wonderful idea to use the crane… He didn’t believe it would be easy for me to unpack it all. So I watched my bike dangling in the air about 15 meter above ground. Very scary indeed.
But all went well, well all except my pump breaking in two while the chief engineer tried pumping up my tires
Now I am more than ready for some exciting new adventures,
So watch out New Zealand…
Here I Come!