SPIRIT OF TASMANIA

25 Mar 21 

After listening to the howling wind for a few days, I was a little nervous about crossing Bass Straight. In the past, David has joked about feeling a bit queasy on the Sydney Ferry pontoons, so my sister had me chuckling nervously about just how rough the crossing can be. 

But I took comfort in our Host Anne’s words as we were saying good-bye. 

“Where are you off to next?” she asked us outside the Rare Earth Gallery.

“Tasmania! We’re on the ferry tonight.” I said with an eye on the wind in the trees. “I’m a little nervous…”

“Oh we love the ferry!” She said with a warm smile. “Explore the ship, have dinner in the restaurant and wake up there! I collect some of my pigments in Tasmania.” Her words were an unexpected comfort to me. It’s funny isn’t it. Her simple statement ‘…we love the ferry…’ had calmed the butterflies. 

We popped in on my sister at NICA for a brief hug goodbye. We’d hoped to spend longer with her but having the bikes on the back of the car, we are reluctant to leave the car unattended. Yes, this is the downside of travelling with bikes that cost more than my first car.  

It’s a dilemma we’ve been experimenting with and on route to the ferry, we pulled over in Port Melbourne to wrap the bikes in a method we’d seen on YouTube: Bike cover, wrapped in an elastic cargo net. Originally this was to protect the bikes’ components from the fine dust from dirt roads, but thought we would wrap them up for their first sea voyage.

Never having been on such a big car ferry, we were impressed with how straight forward the boarding process was, even with the COVID checks. Before long we were queueing up and driving onto the ship. 

“Remember the colour and the level number for where you park the car” Anne and had suggested. So taking the colour and level flyer to remind us, we climbed two flights of stairs and found our cabin. It was compact and cosy with bunk beds, a window and an ensuite.  

We dropped our overnight bags and went to explore the ship. It took a moment of scrutinising the maps posted to find the restaurant. Tucked behind the bar at the stern with portholes overlooking the bay. We queued up with our trays and ordered a meal canteen style. Roast chicken and vegetables for me, fish nuggets and chips for him. Let’s just say it was a very average meal. The veggies we not cooked – blanched at best and I like ’al dente’ beans. 

“That doesn’t sound cooked” said David as I crunched into a green bean using my fingers, because the disposable timber cutlery wasn’t up to the job.

“Dad would hate these!” 

I was thinking vegetables would be best for a settled stomach so I soldiered on. If there’s being sick to be done, then I’m your girl. As a kid Mum & Dad called me ‘spewy-hughey’. It doesn’t take much for me. So I filled up on David’s hot chips and didn’t feel guilty.

“Hell, lets get desert! Chances are I won’t have time to digest it!” David chuckled grabbing my hand and towing me past the deserts. 

The bar area was filling up and the music was loud and boring so we went back to the quiet of our room to wait until we set sail. 

“This is going to be way more comfortable than a 10 hour flight would be!!” I said stretching out on my bunk bed. 

“Hey, we’re moving!” Announced David looking out of the porthole. 

Rugged up in our wind proofs we went out onto the deck to watch Melbourne disappear into the sunset. 

Ever so slowly, we backed out of the port and swung around laying bare the glittering city. Silver, pewter, bronze and gold over the steely bay. A flock of sea gulls escorted us as we turned and navigated through the buoys. 

We watched as Melbourne faded and vanished under a pastel sky. I leaned over the rail and was mesmerised by the churning water, rhythmic and restless. 

Sunset over the bay lulled me into a sense that all would be fine, and calm. The weather system battering the east coast seemed to be moving further south at a faster rate than us. Nothing to worry about.

The speakers crackled into life and a recorded safety message played, airline style and then they practiced sounding the horns to abandon ship. Loud blasts echoed around my soul. 

“Let hope we never hear that again!” I said looking from the orange lifesaver ring to David. 

Next, the disembodied voice gave us instructions for disembarking and said the wake up call would be at 4:45am. YIKES! Early to bed then.

But first we explored the ship’s decks and watched and the last of the light on the horizon. 

Climbing into bed early felt like preparing for jet lag, as we got settled and tried to wind down.  My sister used to call it “time travel” when encouraging her little kids to sleep in the car on a long drive. 

Just as we turned the lights out, a ceiling speaker cracked into life. The Capitan welcomed us aboard and informed us that he had just received the whether report. We were going to get some strong winds of 35 knots (65km per hr) and we would experience some ‘lumps’ at around 10pm. 

“Good night, my sweet.”

“Good luck.”  

Time travel! 

“We’re pulling into port” David said shutting off the alarm. It was pitch black outside so I took his word for it. 

“How did you sleep?” He asked me as my mind was trying to find some focus. “Did you feel the waves?” 

A few times I had regained enough consciousness to feel the rise and fall of the waves, but the phenergan tables I’d taken helped me sleep through. I hadn’t felt seasick at all. I felt great, for 4:45am. 

We dressed and waited for our level to be called down to the car. Disembarking was a breeze. We had been parked on a car lift and were lowered down into a ramp position and then instructed to start the engine and drive off into the pre-dawn darkness. 

We pulled over into the first café with a car park and ordered take away: egg and bacon rolls on Turkish bread with ketchup and a piping hot coffee. It was surprisingly delicious! 

“I feel like we’re on a stake-out” David chuckled taking a sip of hot coffee.

Reclining the car seats, we went straight back to sleep until dawn.  

3 thoughts on “SPIRIT OF TASMANIA

  1. You’re better sea travellers than me. I now have a perfect excuse never to travel to Tassie other than on a plane. The beans are not cooked long enough. For you the ship should be renamed from Spirit of Tasmania to Spirit of Adventure. Very glad you had a relatively smooth crossing. You do hear stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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