All at sea

15 Jun

This post is so called because a) James is currently at sea b) I also went to sea with him for ‘Families Day’ this week and c) it’s a bit how I feel, after trying to battle this virus for the past ten days. It started as a cold, I upgraded it to flu (which is going round) a few days later when the temperatures, shivers and aches started and now am not quite sure since the glands have come up and the energy levels have gone down. So while James is living it up in Hobart for the weekend, dining out with businessmen, driving around in Bentleys and hosting cocktail parties, it’s rest and fluids for me until the lurgy goes away.

Having been away at sea before with my own work and been on board James’ ship, HMAS Newcastle, a few times, I had an idea of what to expect on Families Day. We had to get a coach from the base in Woolloomooloo at 7am so it was an early start. Then we traveled up to the ship’s home port of Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney, went aboard and sailed back down the coast, getting alongside in Sydney again that afternoon. Unfortunately I do get sea sick and to make matters worse, the weekend preceding Families Day was one of strong winds and torrential rain and Monday was not much better, which meant fairly lumpy seas. I took a travel sickness tablet, knowing I ran the risk of feeling drowsy but rather that than leaning over the side in freezing rain all day. Needless to say, by lunch time I was asleep in James’ cabin, which I have to say was surprisingly comfortable. I was one of the lucky ones; the conditions meant dozens of family members suffered and were laid out with sick bags on gym mats in the hangar. What the hardened sea goers thought of us all laid out around the ship, I don’t know but  somehow, it was still an enjoyable day. We got wet watching the twenty-one gun salute as we left Newcastle, we stood in the rain on deck watching the guns being fired and got soaked, as the ship sailed into Sydney and passed under the harbour bridge.

On a positive, I got a really good feel for what the crew on board were like and a real sense of the camaraderie that exists. James says it is one of the best ships he has been on, in terms of the people he is working with. I don’t know whether it is the Australian way or it could be because there is a relatively high percentage of women on board to help keep the balance! I also got to see inside the Ops room: a vast array of screens, monitors and keyboards, all in the dark and cold. This is James’ domain. At least I now know as long as there is light and warmth at home, he’ll be happy to be here!

Talking of which, now we are finally getting the wintry weather, we are also lamenting the lack of central heating. James has a rant that people have lived here since 1788, which should be long enough to work out that insulation and double glazing might be useful, even if it is for only three months of the year. We have an electric heater, which you have to practically sit on to feel the heat but as long as I wear my ski hat indoors, I can sit in the living room without turning blue. Suddenly the Ops room doesn’t sound so bad.

Although it is sunny again now, we had a few days last week of lashing rain and 120kph winds. We went down to Bondi Beach the following evening just to see the waves rolling in.

It is probably no surprise that I have come down with something but when James has been around, he has been a very good nurse and did quite a bit round the house (although I had to explain to him the reason his sausages weren’t cooked after half an hour in the pan, was because he hadn’t actually turned the heat up on the hob but small steps…) In a couple of weeks the roles will be reversed as James has his knee operation at the end of June and so will be in hospital for two nights and off work, hobbling about on crutches for a while after that. It might be the perfect opportunity to give him a few cooking lessons…


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