Holiday in Burma

Two days later we were sailing up the Yarra River to our berth in Port Melbourne. The Stella Maris van took me to the Seaman’s club in Little Collins Street all part of the wonderful service they provide to seafarers, a definition that includes anyone travelling on a working ship. On the bus I met some Indians who were on shore leave from a ship carrying dangerous chemicals. I was glad to hear they were anchored far away from us. The berths next to us were occupied by CMA CGM’s Manet, sister ship of the La Tour and Matisse on which I have travelled, and the Italia.

Returning from shore leave, I climbed the Buxstar’s very high and wobbly gangplank hanging onto the dirty, oily rope sides. At the top my hands were seized by the seaman on security watch and scrubbed with a cloth. I was polished up like a grubby three year old and given a pair of workman’s gloves for future use.

Holiday in Burma Photo Gallery

The crew of the Buxstar from the captain down were a cheerful lot, always smiling and laughing. All except the Ukrainian chief engineer were Filipino. There was one other passenger on the ship when I boarded, Dave, a New Zealander, and we collected another here in Melbourne, Rick from the UK, who was on a quest to go around the world in eighty days without flying.

Two days later we arrived in Botany Bay, the container port for Sydney. I went to the gate with the wharf van and waited in a shed with some of the crew and the captain for the mission to Seafarers Flying Angel van that took us to the city. It was a lovely sunny day, everything was bright and green after heavy rain the previous night. The bus took a scenic route past the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The Seafarers had moved since I was here last and is now almost on the waterfront.

Back at the ship I was a good little passenger and used the gloves I had been given, and this time didn’t need cleaning up by the crew. In the morning I saw, to my delight, that the containers that had blocked the outlook from two of my portholes were gone. I could see right to the mast and the front of the ship. Now to get rid of the lifeboat. Or maybe not.

I stood on the deck as we sailed through the heads of Botany Bay, watching planes taking off from Mascot Airport alongside us. The captain told me that there was now a serious low out in the Tasman Sea and we would be taking a different route further south towards Antarctica to try to avoid it.

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