Friday, 30 January 2015

From the Coral Sea to the South China sea
(Part 7)

On Board ‘Caledonian Sky': Tuesday, 27th January 2015

Our buses dropped us near the bottom of the gangway of ‘Caledonian Sky’ just before 3.00 p.m. There were the minimum of formalities in reception before I was handed the ‘key’ to my cabin – a grey plastic rectangle with a series of holes punched into it forming a code, labelled ‘Vingcard’ and made in Norway. My cabin was on Deck 3 and only a few yards from Reception. I arrived at my cabin 346 (also labelled ‘Isle of Gigha’) at the same time as a crew member with my luggage.

The cabin was a generous size for a double cabin, so it was very suitable for just one passenger. The bed was made up as a double but alternately could be arranged as twin beds. There was adequate wardrobe space (with a safe) and one corner of the room had been partitioned off as a well-furnished bathroom including a corner bath incorporating a shower. One corner of the room had two easy chairs, the desk (which included a small refrigerator) was provided with an upright chair and the dressing table had a stool. Daylight was provided by one large window (not a porthole) supplemented by a comprehensive arrangement of electric lights.

Cabin 346 - 'Isle of Gigha'.

At about 4.30 p.m. all passengers were summoned to the lounge for the mandatory Safety and Lifeboat Drill. The vessel has four motor lifeboats, each with a capable of carring 48 persons, mounted on davits either side of the ship.

Around 4.00 p.m., the ship got under way with a Port Pilot on the bridge to ensure our safe passage. About 1 mile out to sea, the Pilot Boat drew alongside on the port side whilst we were still under way, a rope ladder was lowered from our ship and the Pilot and one other clambered down the ladder and joined the Pilot Boat which immediately accelerated and returned to Port Moresby Harbour.

"Dropping the Pilot" leaving Port Moresby.

A ‘Welcome Aboard Briefing’ had been arranged for 6.30 p.m. in the Lounge to allow the Expedition Team to introduce themselves. According to the Noble Caledonia booklet the team comprised:-
Jane Wilson (Expedition Leader)
Andrea Machacek (Assistant Expedition Leader)
Danny Edmunds (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Hannah Lawson (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Damon Ramsey (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Lea McQuillan (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Craig Ward (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Simon Cook (Naturalist/Zodiac Driver)
Kathryn Robinson (Guest Speaker)
The Lounge on 'Caledonian Sky'.

Dinner was available at 7.00 p.m. When the weather allowed, meals could be taken either on the Lido Deck (Deck 5) in a roofed but open-sided area or in the inside Restaurant on Deck 2. By the time the meal was over, I was very tired so I retired to my cabin to prepare for bed.

On Board ‘Caledonian Sky: Wednesday, 28th January 2015

I had slept well and was partly restored on Wednesday, when we would be at sea for the whole day and the following night crossing the Coral sea and entering the Torres Strait which separates Papua New Guinea from the northernmost tip of Australia.

A ‘Zodiac Safety Briefing’ had been arranged for 10.00 a.m. in the Lounge. Later in the morning there was a talk by Damon Ramsey. After lunch there were two presentations, the first by Kathryn Robinson, the second by Craig Ward. At 6.30 p.m. there was a ‘Recap and Briefing’ by the Expedition Team with information about our landing the next day on Thursday Island and this was followed by Dinner. Once again, I was pretty tired and happy to retire to my cabin after the meal.

A large egg-shaped Radome mounted on the roof of the Panorama Lounge (Deck 6, Aft) provided communications via satellite. Two HP computers were available for e-mail access inside the Panorama Lounge without charge. In addition, Wi-Fi access was available around the ship on a chargeable basis. I found the connection a bit erratic.

View from the Forward Observation Deck, looking astern, showing the Panorama Lounge with Satellite Radome on the roof. Port Moresby is in the background.

I’ll tell you more about the trip when I'm able. You can find all the posts on this trip here.

My pictures

Joining 'Caledonian Sky'.
Port Moresby's Docks.

[Pictures and picture link added 15-Feb-2015]