Day 004: At Sea, Coral Sea (Great Barrier Reef transit)
Position: S 22º 10.60′ E 151º 09.60′
Weather: high overcast, 20ºC
Last Port: Brisbane, Australia
Next Port: Singapore
Status: Underway in the Coral Sea
From the Navigator:
In the early hours of this morning, the ship passed 13nm East of Sandy Cape and shortly after we entered the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). We will maintain various northwesterly courses throughout today as we navigate up the Capricorn Channel passing Mackay on our port side. Late this afternoon we will pass between the Cumberland Islands and Stevens Reef as we make our way up to the Whitsundays.
After all the excitement in Brisbane yesterday we slept a bit late and met Frank and Linda at breakfast. They both came to Australia from Scotland as children in the 1950s. Their families settled in the same area and the community social clubs brought them together. They both still have a bit of a Scottish accent, now colored with Aussie overtones. Frank is a Vietnam veteran and we had a nice talk about the passage of time affecting your memory of a place. He remarked that several of his friends tried to get him to go back to Vietnam, and he resisted for many years. When he did finally visit, he remarked how much it impacted his memory and helped bring the experience to closure. So often in life we start something, complete it, and look nowhere but ahead. It is worth taking a look back even years later to gain perspective on how the original experience changed us. His lesson to us is that it’s fine to resist or even fear your own history, just don’t stay afraid forever.
We attended a lecture by Colin _____ entitled The Service Revolution: A New Economy. There will always be a need to extract raw materials and products from the planet, and then manufacture them into useful products in the second Industrial economic sector. But it is now Services that generate the most economic activity. He argued the emphasis on Commodities sector industries such as mining is unbalanced, as that sector contributes less than 5% to the overall economic activity in first world countries. The Services sector contributes over 70%.
Ed had been invited to join the ship’s “Pop Choir”. The choir will present five concerts during the voyage, one per segment. For the first segment the choir is learning a medley of show tunes. Many of them were familiar, others obscure. The choir members each received a sheet of words but no music. This is the biggest sing-a-long in Ed’s experience, and the sound of over 100 voices is amazing to be part of. Even the rehearsal had an audience who offered applause after each rehearsal segment (although it seemed many were family members acting in either a generous or obligatory manner).
Unfortunately the choir practice is daily from 12 to 1pm, which is right in the middle of lunch. We tracked down a couple of pieces of pizza. The ship had the movie Grease playing on the ship’s television system and we enjoyed afternoon coffee while watching a few minutes of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John strut their stuff.
It was formal night aboard ship, the first of 13 such nights this trip. Many of the other travelers remarked it was a bit early to hold a formal night, but they came dressed to the nines nonetheless. We started with photographs, then proceeded to the chow hall for a beautiful dinner. Ed had Tasmanian Salmon, which sounds exotic until you learn it’s just Atlantic Salmon farm raised in Tasmania. Still tasty. Michelle selected a nice gewürztraminer and we learned another new long obscure “g” word: gormandises. Nobody at the table had any idea but these turned out to be small cookies like you might have with afternoon tea and cakes.
After dinner the entire ship’s company gathered for a welcome speech by Captain Kent. He welcomed us with some lighthearted comments about this being his first cruise, then introduced the ship’s officers. We each received a small glass of champagne and joined a toast to the start of a successful voyage. At the welcome reception we met Jerald, a Director with the Palm Beach chapter of the Navy League. He regaled us with stories of commissioning over 20 ships as a Navy League representative and his time aboard USS Key West as a Coast Guardsman during World War II.