Solar Eclipse in Cairns

Cairns Eclipse

Solar Eclipse in Cairns 2012

In 1976 Sydney experienced a partial solar eclipse, I was 5 years old at the time and I recall seeing the sky darken andΒ  people on TV watching totality through special glasses. Back then I thought how cool it would be to see a total solar eclipse although since then I’d never really gone out of my way to do something about it. In 2002 there was a total eclipse over Ceduna in South Australia, way out on the Great Australian Bight and one of the guys I worked with drove out there to experience it. For him it was more about the rave partyΒ  during the eclipse than anything else, but again that briefly rekindled in me the thoughts of wanting to see a solar eclipse “some day”.
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Day 7 – Cairns



Today is the last day of my journey. Actually no its not, yesterday was. I’m writing this sitting at the airport waiting for the plane to take me home. Yesterday was such a packed day that today has been the first time I’ve had a chance to stop and put my thoughts down.

To start with we had the 0200-0300 watch which meant an early start. Fortunately these anchor watches are easy, you are only on for an hour and there isn’t a lot to do really. The watch is split so there’s 3 of us at any one time and it’s in your watch order, so 1,2 and 3 on the first watch 4,5 and 6 on the second watch and so on – or we might go backwards so it’s 11,10, 9 etc. Basically we spent the shift sitting around telling funny stories of the voyage etc. So much fun was had we actually ended up staying on deck for another hour talking to bouncy and the next watch, Eddie came and went on deck a few times and nick came up once or twice to tell Sam she was too loud πŸ˜›

By 0400 we decided to call it a night and returned to our hammocks, I’ve finally worked out I was sleeping too far up in the hammock and what was happening was the hammock was tight and was squashing my shoulders so that I was sore in the morning, by sliding a bit further down in the hammock I got a much better nights sleep.

FlagAround 0715 we got the wakeup call and started to congregate around the deck, however I was on kitchen duty for the last time with Lucy and the other 7s – today’s breakfast was a rather more leisurely affair with all watches served at the same time so I was working my arse off with the toaster. Lucy took over for a while so I grabbed some breakfast and joined the rest of our watch up on the deck where we got to eat breakfast in the open air as a last day “treat”. I couldn’t hang around for long before I had to head back down to help clean up after breakfast. So busy I didn’t even have time for a coffee πŸ™

Again we lounged around the deck, while the professional crew had their meeting (what goes on behind closed doors for so long? Laughing about the voyage crew? Special brekkie treats we don’t get? A real happy hour?), some of us started to pack and donn our voyage shirts that we needed to wear into port. Captain Ross gave his last morning meeting with the whole crew and we were filled in on the planned proceedings of the day. We would be motoring into port as we weren’t allowed to sail in, and the voyage crew could optionally go aloft to the yard arms. Naturally we all took that offer up! So once we were in voyage crew shirts and harnesses we waited on deck while the ship apporached Cairns. By now the 18th century deck was kitted out with all the stuff from the museum – our little home at sea was no longer ours πŸ™

Bouncy told us that four of us would go to the top gallant yard and the rest to the top sail yard – TG was popular so I offered to take the top sail. Stupid me. I got them confused and TG yard was RIGHT at the top, the little one. I never got to go this high on voyage. Oh well – shit happens. Anyway I secured my camera to my harness and up we went. Anne and I picked the wrong ASAPs and had to go down and switch, but we were still ready in plenty of time to get into port. Loooking around us the view was pretty awesome, a crowd has started to form to see us and Ally fired off the cannon. Swinging around I got some great shots of us all aloft and Ally again fired the cannon which I caught on video – pretty cool πŸ™‚ What was also cool was Richard’s kids were on the dock yelling “Ahoy Daddy!” – it was so cute. A pity Deanne and the kids couldn’t come up to see it, but as teenagers Adam and Jackie would probably be thinking “meh” and texting someone…

Before too long we were docking at the wharf and we had to come down for the last time, hand back our safety vests, grab our stuff and disembrak (after a few slow locals figured out how the gangway went together!) It was a little sad that it was coming to an end so quickly – the voyage was definitely too short and I knew I’d miss the rest of the foremast watch, amazing how quickly a group of people can bond when thrown together. This was definitely an amazing experience. Once ashore we had the opportunity to buy voyage souvenirs at a discount so I grabbed something for Deanne, me and the kids, and a few things for Andrew and Michelle’s kids after I’d stayed with them. One funny thing was the local TV news crew ambushed me for an interview and despite telling them I was a little camera shy they proceeded to ask me a few questions. One of them was what the highlight of the voyage was, I told them that it was the way the watches had gotten together so well – turning to indicate the watch only to find Sam duck out of view while Bronwyn, Fiona and the rest tried to get out of the way!haha

We’d already exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and we planned to catch up with those staying in Cairns for dinner, so we decided to check into our respective hotels first. Those plans came slightly undone when I noticed there was a pub across the road – after 7 days at sea a beer would be nice so I convinced Sam to have a drink before we went – Geoff and Troy and a few from other watches were also there so we had a beer together before heading off. I was booked into the Gilligan’s Backpackers – I’d never done the backpacking thing when I was younger so I thought I’d do that too while I was away. Holly had told me months earlier that the professional crew would also be staying there so it made sense anyway.

The place we went to dinner was called Rattle & Hum, the food was pretty good, and I had a few more beers although I tried to pace myself and stick to the light stuff to start with – I’d hate to miss my flight today because I was hungover and also didn’t want to get too wasted πŸ™‚ Not long after dinner finished the professional crew arrived, most of them came along which was cool. The night was pretty good – Bouncy, Eddie and Ally settled into singing sea shanties until eventually management asked them to stop. Party poopers. πŸ™ Ended up staying out ’til quite late – didn’t get home until the early hours.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

This morning I woke early – forgot to set my alarm later so I got dressed and went out for breakfast. My flight isn’t until 1.30pm so I went for a bit of a walk – had Maccas for breakfast then wandered down to the marina. Its a pity I won’t get to see the rest of Cairns – Deanne and I will have to come back some time. I found a cafe on the water (they also did breakfast – damn I should have had a real breakfast there instead of Macca’s shit) so I sat and had a coffee wihle watching seaplanes fly past. That was really cool – maybe I should complete my commercial license and we move up here and I fly seaplanes, that would be awesome.

I headed back to Gilligans and decided that because of the shit going on with the Chile volcano I’d check out and headed for the airport early. I’ve got a few hours to wait so I’ve grabbed another coffee and I’ll have some lunch soon, then I should be home to Deanne by 5pm – missing home a lot.