Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pacific & Australia - part one

After an early morning flight from Toronto, I arrive in Vancouver ...

... from which, mercifully, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have just departed. This means a quick taxi into town, unimpeded by royal cavalcades, fervent monarchists and the celebrity obsessed. Come to think of it, cavalcades and spectators I might have been reluctantly covering in the old days.

Out of the hotel early and watching from dockside as a familiar conveyance, Holland America's Maasdam, arrives. Those readers interested in the ship, my abode for the last two autumns, can find posts at:


A few hours later, settled into the same cabin as always, we're approaching Lions Gate Bridge.

This brings to mind a picture Dad took in 1947. The mightily impressive American battleship Iowa sails into Vancouver. We then lived on the north shore and Dad used the bridge to commute into town.

In the early 1950s, I peek around a hedge (no idea why I'm peeking) at the bridge. Above Mum and me is the figurehead from Canadian Pacific’s 1890s Empress of Japan. 

I loved the harbour. Life at sea seemed to offer more rewarding possibilities than Mrs. Dunlop's grade one arithmetic class. 

In those days, Orient Lines Royal Mail Ship Oronsay sailed from Vancouver to Sydney via Honolulu and Fiji, the same route I'm now taking. Until 1959 you went without air conditioning. Still, no AC would have been a small price to escape multiplication tables and classmate Julie Welch poking me with her ruler. 

On this voyage across the Pacific and around Australia, I am sailing with dear friends Michael and Kathy. They valiantly attempt to look cheerful while being buffeted by a strong wind. 

Six decades after fending off Julie's ruler (I secretly quite fancied her), I am finally departing Vancouver on a proper ocean voyage. 

A recently encountered quote neatly sums up my hopes: “Sea-life is conducive to idleness, and the saline atmosphere is narcotic.”

(Under the Southern Cross  Maturin Murray Ballou  1888)

To assist with the narcotic part, a bottle of BC plonk - Blasted Church Cabernet  - is in my cabin awaiting dinner with Mike and Kathy. The winery's website explains the name:

First stop in six days, Honolulu.