Friday, 30 November 2012

In November...

Back to the UK. Back to home comforts and all the things that make settling somewhere great.

Spent Most Time... In the Kent country-side sifting through online job adverts, attempting to revamp this blog space and enjoying the perks of modern life that you just don't get on a ship. i.e. internet, food/hot drink when you want/ personal space etc.  Half way through the month found work and have been working like a mother trucker.

Mostly Watching; Spaced, one of my favourite comedy programmes of all time. So far avoided day time television (its a slippery slop). but if I do indulge I'm pertial to a bit of 'the big bang theory.

Listening; To the song 'one day' by Asaf Aviadan over and over again.  Lana Del Ray has also become a mini obsession. I've replayed 'ride' more than once.

Reading; "Down and out in Paris and London" - not the best choice for someone looking for work!

Activities:  Meeting old friends for catch-ups in Cafes, taking walks in the countryside.

Eating; Cheese and crackers - with France just over the pond, it would be rude not to.

Drinking: Mulled Cider - its a taste of the future I'm telling you.

Wearing: A Green Parka.

* Picture of Lana Del Ray via Pinterest

Getting to the church on time

Ladies and Gent's, I made it. But more importantly, so did these two.  The day after landing into Heathrow, I watched my big sister get a new surname.

It maybe that I'm bias, but what the heck: THIS WAS THE BEST WEDDING. EVER!!!!!

Let me set the scene.

A thousand year old church where the Bride was baptist in as a baby.
Pews jammed packed with friends and family. Musicians at the front to help give some 'oomph' to the hymns.
A best man doubling as a vicar to marry them.
Bridesmaids waiting outside, realising that sure, our dresses looked good but did not keep the chilly British weather at bay.

Then a Bentley pulled up and a beautiful dress (attached to a beautiful bride) appeared. Walking down the aisle, I was put in charge of her trail, which is a lot harder than it sounds!!

At the reception we ate and danced in celebration. It was also at this point that I saw my sister dance with the flower girl, and for some reason this image made me a little emotional.  Probably because this had been  her day and it was amazing.

Congratulations Mark and Caz - two great people who deserve great happiness.

* Picture taken by my father. Other photos to follow soon...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Flying Home

Now I have a confession to make.  Whilst sailing from Noumea to Sydney, I was S*%#ing myself most of the way.  This wasn't due to storms, a fear of pirates or picking up dysentery, it was because I'd taken a gamble.  I had a choice between two parts of my life and I attempted to have both. You see after beginning my Pacific Adventure, I found out that my Sister became engaged, HIP HIP HORAY!!!!  and then a little later they set the date for the 27th October HIP HIP HOR- what? but that's only two days from when I get into Sydney!!!

Air travel from Sydney to London takes about 24 hours, and that's with the minimum time for a stop over/refuel. You can then take away the 12 hour time difference, but the biggest factor was that I'd be on a sailing ship, which was dependant on weather conditions to get in on time. If luck wasn't on your side, we could be out there for days, bobbing about.  It took a lot of thought. I wanted to be there with my family, celebrating a major life event. I also didn't want to let my crew down and not finish my trip where I'd started.   So I looked online, chose a flight and made a gamble.  I'd be flying out on the 25th October, the day the last voyage officially ended.

At the beginning it didn't seem the best idea.  There was zero wind. I may have cried a little and cursed myself for not putting my family first and trying to have it all.  But as we know the wind did change, I did get to Sydney and with two days spare to boot!

My flight boarded at 4:25 pm.  For the first part of my journey I slept (briefly) and watched films (mostly). In between this I ate (surprisingly yummy).  For around an hour and a bit I got off the plane in Singapore, went through hand luggage security again, only to get on the same plane again, in the same seat.
Part two of my journey pretty much mirrored part one. The whole time I was blown away by how awesome Quantas were and how well the flight was.  Comparing it to my experience flying out to Australia,  I'm now fully convinced that if you can stay on the same plane the whole journey, even if you do have to get on and then off, just do it.  The $200* more I had to pay was well worth ridding myself of the added stress. Wondering whether you'd make a connection or waiting 8 hours in Beijing airport, are all well and good when you're not on a time limit, but with the wedding looming this was definitely the best choice.

And so after around 24 hours in the air, I landed to an English morning. A cold, dark and wet British day just about to begin. But it was not cheerless. The customs man let my Pacific carvings and shells through, and on the other side of arrivals, I found my dad waiting for me, ready to take me Home to have one final meal with my 'single' sister. After over two years, I was finally Home.

Picture taken in Manly, Sydney, Australia - 2012.
* $ refers to the Australian dollar.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Two days in Sydney

After we came alongside in the rocks and cleared customs and immigration, I couldn't believe we were back where it all started. Where had the last 6 months gone?  On our first night back we went to the Mercantile for a few. Mine was a nice cold Cider, something thing I'd been craving for months.

In the morning I popped to a local cafe for a few take away coffees - one that had been a favourite when we lived on the Southern Swan. It was all so Normal and yet so bizarre. After 6 months in some of the planet's most isolated spots, here I was, back in one of the world's major cities. The weather was still gorgeous but I was still feeling rather 'funny' about reaching our final destination and therefore, my departure from the Soren Larsen.  This old lady had been my home and the centre of my world.  Although I was excited about what the next few months had in store for me, I knew life outside the ship would take some adjusting. And those on board had been there with me, experiencing all the ups and downs as a collective. The Soren's motley crew were my Family in many ways.  Living, working, eating, sleeping and hanging out together, suddenly 'poof' they'd be gone. The whole thing made me feel uneasy, and I didn't like it one bit!

However, I was determined to enjoy my final night in Sydney. On our mini pub crawl of the rocks, I might of had one too many swigs of rum, which made my last day in Australia a little 'delicate.' Tip of the day: hangovers do not help goodbyes and it makes dragging your arse away even harder.
 But I did manage to break away from the Soren and its crew. Feeling a little worse for wear, I got myself to the airport, with one more goodbye to say.  For over a year, me and Zim had rarely a day a part and the idea of our temporary separation was hard to comprehend.

But no time to get mushy. I had a 24 hour plane journey to make and a wedding to storm. AdiĆ³s Sydney and stay beautiful!

Mother England was calling and it was time to go home.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Final Voyage: New Caledonia to Sydney

From New Caledonia to Sydney, Australia.  In the beginning this voyage had it's set backs. On the day we left Noumea I was crippled by stomach cramps.  Only lasting 24 hours and still not leaving the reef (thank god -open sea and an upset tummy do not mix well) I was optimistic about the final sail.  But good old mother nature wasn't playing ball. The wind was totally against us, which is pretty hard to work with in a square rigged ship.Let the motor sailing begin! And as we reached our first planned stop, Lord Howe, the wind just died.  Approaching what seemed to be a lone rock in the ocean, Dolphins came out to welcome us, and we even had a shark sighting! Despite the anti sailing weather, reaching Lord Howe was a show stopping moment. It was so calm I felt all right bringing my camera, a.k.a my baby, up on deck.

However, anchoring up in the evening, the wind picked up and we were told by the authorities to clear out in the morning. A fierce wind was coming our way, which would make the anchorage a dangerous one. So we left Lord Howe, without even going a shore. However, at least the wind was in the right direction and we could get on with some sailing.   My watch (8-12) carried on as usual, rain came and went, the final fish were caught and the cooks kept bringing out delicious food.   

It wasn't long until we reached Mainland Australia - Horay! After spending a night or two in broken bay, we then picked up our local knowledge ticket holder (requirement for ships over a specific length wanting to go into Sydney harbour) and went through 'the heads.' 
Under clear blue skies we came into Sydney.  After six months away, the Soren Larsen was back, Ready to clear customs and immigration in the best position possible.

* In regards to the final photo, I would like everyone to look at the amazing paint and turgo job.  It deserves an 'ooowwww' or an 'ahhhh.'

** First picture of moi and the 6th taken by Mr Biddlecombe.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Cheese and Wine in Noumea

A Photo interval. No pictures taken in Noumea ,think of this as an image break and enjoy the photo of the pretty boat. To be honest, we were busy
  • Getting alongside in a very small space.  The Soren's first time touching dry land in Months.
  • Acid cleaning the hull, followed by painting it.  There were tears, there was pain but in the end, the rust in above picture was gone!
  • Eating cheese, baguettes, strawberries, pastries and other food New Cal inherited from the French. 
  • Trying to find somewhere to skype family at night, but macca's wifi wasn't working and the yacht club turned it off early.  
  • Feeling a little strange that this would be our final voyage after six months travel.
Noumea....well it made an impression. A lot of anti-social drinking, didn't seem to have a city centre and apparantly a Cappacino is a long black with squirty cream (yes I hear myself - I am a hot beverage snob).  However, it was dry land, only four crew members had to stay on board and therefore if you had no anchor watch in the next four hours, you were free!!! whether it was a couple of hours getting frustrated that there was no where open to use the internet, or a 10 minute visit to the nearest corner shop, you were free and thats all that mattered.

On our day off, We could have hopped on a bus and seen a little bit more of New Caledonia. We could have got to a beautiful beach and truly made the most of our last days in the South Pacific. Instead we did as listed above, bought some decent food from the supermache and feasted like kings.  With our not-so-little-picnic, we sat in a local park and bathed in the sunshine.

Our four days in Noumea went quickly and it wasn't long until all the new voyage crew were on board and we were getting ready for our final voyage.

In the direction of Sydney, we sailed...

* Picture taken on cook islands to samoa voyage.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Sighting New Caledonia

Only a couple of days sail to New Caledonia from Vanuatu, but what a world away from the thick jungle and coconut plantations.  With its hills and (what appear to be) scrub land,  no wonder these shores where named new Scotland. Seeing such a landscape change, reminded me how changeable the south pacific can be.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Fake Killer Whales

Once the ship left Tanna and the awe inspiring Mt Yasur, we sailed to New Caledonia baby. On the way we came across these crazy mammals. Is it a dolphin? Is it a pilot whale? No its a fake killer whale. That's there actual name. Really. I had to read it up. Apparently a fossil was found before the species was recorded and the latin translates to, yep you guest it 'fake killer whale.' Anyhow, they later realised these guys weren't extinct but actually quite widespread in the old ocean!

This pod played with our baw for a while, hitching a free ride, before getting bored and heading off.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Nature's fireworks

Mt Yasur - Tanna.  After anchoring at Port Resolution, we hopped in a truck,

climbed up a peak

and found this bad boy

As the sunset, the exploding lava became even more spectacular.  The earth trembled with every boom and I wondered, will it finally blow? Will this volcano turn me to a crisp? Obviously it did not. Instead, Mt Yasur reminded me how beautiful and powerful mother nature is.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Riding a geriatric horse

Horse riding - Vanuatu style.  
Of course my horse was rather 'mature.' With no teeth and little energy to carry some British chick on his back, I spent a lot of the time feeling guilty. He also didn't really want to move once knee deep in the water.  None the less, we made it through parkland and beach all the way back to the staples, without my horse dying.  

One of my favourite moments was when 'the Swede' was rescued by a Vanuatan knight in shining armour!

A great day playing with horses.

* last two pictures via the swede, who keeps a blog here. its looks amazing and makes me want to learn Swedish.. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A volcano walk

Impressive isn't it? Our four and a half hour trek certainly delivered.   

After a twenty minute lift in a truck, we hiked through jungle for an hour and a half...

then came to the ash plains, which came as a 'flat' relief...

but, uh-oh what's this, yes its boulders to climb over and around.

However, with great heights come spectacular views and even when I was crawling up the almost vertical path, all I had to do was look around for inspiration. I forgot how beautiful hiking could be.

and in this instance, great heights also came with a lava pit. Note: if you ever do this, bring a scarf to protect against the fumes (mmmmmm sulphur lungs!) and a jumper - it gets a little chilly at this altitude!

In our expedition up to the volcano, we were extremely lucky to see the lava mouth so clearly.  Previous crew had trekked up here only to find cloud coverage.  After lots of oohs and arhhs watching the lava spurt up, we hung about eating our pack lunch and took a few more shots.

And then it was time to start the long walk home...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ambrym's Shore

Two crew members jumping the 12 metre drop off Ambryn's coast line. Love that our lady The Soren Larsen is watching in the background.  Sorry to say my nerve got the better of me and I did not participate.

We visited Ambrym twice during our two months cruising Vanuatu and it was the second time round that I got the chance to go ashore and take these photos. Known as the black magic capital of Vanuatu, the island has a reputation for witch craft. 

Its also renown for its Carvings, with many sent to the Capital, port villa, to be sold to tourists.

 Spending a few hours on the shore line was exactly what I needed , ready to rest up for a rather long trek the next day. But with the promise of seeing a live volcano, it would be worth blistered feet...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Football in Ureparapara

Another place I had heard about from other crew and was eager to see. Ureparapara, or also named 'that island where you sail into a volcanoe' certainly made a first impression.  A volcanic island, the harbour was created millions of years a go when the volcano exploded out.  What was left was a perfectly sheltered harbour with a small gap going out to sea.  Great for anchoring up, however as crew we had to use our sailing skills when the engine decided to play up just as we entered the harbour's mouth.   We had all sailed onto anchor before, yet the pressure of almost 360 degrees of surrounding land certainly got the adrenaline pumping.

Three  words sum up my first impression of Ureparapara - King Kong's home.  With the steep surrounding hills, constant cloud coverage and drizzle, I was expecting to hear roars and stomping from the jungle. However, a big ape did not appear to fight with a t-rex at the harbours shore. Instead The Soren Larsen received visits from outriggers and the local chief.

As permanent crew must only have rostered time ashore (enough people must stay aboard to get the anchor up) I had an afternoon on Ureparapara.  However, my time was not wasted.  Although I did not  hike up the hills to get an awe inspiring photo of Diver's harbour, I did;

Watch the kids show crew members a thing or two about football before taking part in a crew vs villagers football game.  We won but I think this was due to our 'extra' local players.

 A walk in the rain, later sheltering in a kid's playhouse.

 Watching a custom dance complete with special head wear.

Then making our way back through the village, meeting new faces.

You might also like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...