I seem to draw the short straw. At the latest editorial conference they chortled and sniggered at the Old Guy in The Tent debacle where I was sent to the Falls Festival at Marion Bay and had a nice tent on the side of a hill. The story came out OK, but the best part was later.
That’s where I found myself at Launceston for New Years Eve. After finding (Vjam) Chris Veever’s number in my mobile, I managed to bludge my way into the riverside gig. Then much, much later gifted my Hertz car to a strange chick I had hooked up with. Leading to a lot of angst early the next day as I stumbled around the hotel trying to figure where the keys were.
This time the smarties sent me somewhere they again figure will end badly. Rock The Boat, a nine night cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas with 26 rock bands and 2,000 fans.
I boarded on a sunny Sydney spring Sunday, processed onto the ship and checked into a cabin with a balcony. The Opera House was just there.
The Muster happens an hour before sailing, and the crew hunt down and herd EVERYONE to their stations. I am at Station 8, in case the unthinkable happens and you need witness statements.
Up the harbour we edged, 78,000 tonnes of White Boat. Best of all was the hand off from The Pilot. Sydney Ports require their guy be in control of anything big that comes in, or goes out.
The Pilot boat steaming alongside once we left The Heads, in the afternoon sun. Then they accelerated, and moved close. Then the rope ladder flopped out from a low hatch on the ship.
A safety suited dude came out of the Pilot Boat with his harness clipped to the rail. He circled around the bow, and turns out in the reception stance. The Pilot then descends two broad timber laddered steps, and the receiver grabs him with two arms. He is off the boat. We are now in open waters.
Meanwhile, a queue of large and matronlike women are forming at the general restaurant. I am on the coveted 6pm seating, which means there are a flock of people at the 6pm concert instead. Tonight is Mental as Anything, or the remnants thereof.
There are two meal sittings, while mine is underway the band will play Concert 1. Those people then go to the 8.30pm meal and I attend the 9pm concert.
After an encounter with a man eating woman at Table 26, I retreated in great relief to Table 2, and joined Mark the accountant with his band, The Hips. They are a bunch of old guys who play for fun, their wives are along for the trip, and they have 4 gigs in the side venues over the duration.
Look, I’m for everyone. But seriously, having not cruised before, I didn’t know this is the preferred vacation for anyone who is seriously overweight. We’re talking too big for airplanes. The free food appears to be part of the allure.
When we sailed, they dished up an enormous hideous cake on the outdoors deck, near where some showoffs were dancing all serious partner like, to a 60’s band.
There were people with a slab of cake in one hand, drink in the other, and all just before dinner time.
The Broadway Melodies Theatre was jam full, every seat burdened (some way more than others) and the remnants of the band going through some motions.
Some chunky pot boiler in row one was – err – dancing in her seat, as were several up the back where I was standing. It was mixed VERY quiet and as boring as watching golf, so I came back to my room and signed off.
To the cacophony of ocean and wind.
THE WILD SEA
At about 1am we hit some big sea, and things moved more than usual. I heard some big waves get smashed up front, and at one point semi dreamed I shut the door in case water sprays in. But I am on Level 7, so it can’t.
At dawn I went off and found the coffee / tea station upstairs after much searching, and had a horrible cup of ‘premium black leaf tea’ with cane sugar that was really badly processed, and some ersatz milk. With the usual American ‘not boiling’ water, of course.
Hopefully I’ll get into some kind of relaxed groove here.
Oh yes: some context. Rock the Boat Cruise is a charter cruise by Scott Collett and Mick Manov, creator and founder of Blue Suede Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise, Cruisin Country and Thalassa Cruise. They’re doing well.