Day 59, Grand Asia 2018
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, Sydney, Australia:
I awoke to thunder and lightning, and a check of the radar on my smartphone showed the storm was right over the city. Fortunately for us, it passed by midmorning and even the promised rain after that was relatively light.
The Australian National Maritime Museum was the perfect place to spend the rainy morning. I learned about the Yolnu people, Aboriginal inhabitants of northern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, islands northeast of Australia. Their spirit carving, pole paintings and bark paintings are amazing.
Nearby is the First Lady, a 36-foot yacht sailed by Australian Kay Cottee for 189 days to circumnavigate the world alone, without stopping and without assistance, by way of both hemispheres and the five southernmost capes. She was the first woman to accomplish the feat.
Another exhibit shows the various ways that Europeans sailed to Australia over two centuries. There also are displays of Australia’s wartime history. A special exhibit features James Cameron and his deep-sea explorations, including the filming of the Titanic on the ocean floor.
By the time I moved outside the weather had cleared some, with spotty sprinkles, and I could visit a full-size replica of the HMB Endeavour, the ship James Cook sailed to Australia.
Also on display and available for boarding are the submarine HMAS Onslow and the destroyer HMAS Vampire. Alas, it was too damp to more than quick sketches of the Endeavour and Vampire, but I finished them later.
The Maritime Museum is in Darling Harbor, across a pedestrian bridge from where the ship’s shuttle dropped us by the aquarium. The Queen Victoria Building, which I had visited briefly the day before, was a few blocks away. I decided it deserved more time than I originally had, so I headed there for lunch and more window-shopping.
The high-end boutiques are on the upper levels, with more moderate stores in what we would call the basement. The only purchase I made was chocolates. I pulled out all my Australian coins and the sales clerk helped me spend them for two delicious pieces – passion fruit and ginger, both covered with dark chocolate.
Meanwhile, back on the Amsterdam, the crew continued to keep the ship spotless. Before I left, I discovered my balcony being cleaned while it rained. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but at least all the salt spray was gone.
The rain returned as we sailed out of Sydney. I braved the weather to take pictures of the sail-away.
Captain Eversen had warned us that the seas would be rough as we left the harbor, and they were. During dinner we watched the pilot boat being tossed and turned as it worked its way to the ship’s side to retrieve the pilot.
The captain followed along the coast to minimize the effects, but the following sea sent the ship jerking sometimes one way or the other. I hear some people suffered from sea sickness, and for the first time in two long cruises I saw some sickness bags in a hanger by the forward elevators. I slept well, feeling the movement of the ship for the first time after days of sailing in calm seas.