The Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, takes you from the bottom of the North Island to the tip of the South across New Zealand’s Cook Strait,and is notorious for its rough crossings, and this one did not disappoint.
We boarded the Arahura Interislander Ferry, at Lambton Quay, in Wellington, at around 11am. Every now and then, I stole a glance at the sky and back at the sea as both were beginning to look pretty forboding….
Ten minutes out, it was definitely getting rougher and the wind was picking up. As if he was reading my thoughts, the Captain tersely announced over the PA system, that there was, “a bit of wind expected, once we head out into Cook Strait.” “In fact,” he said “it was blowing a gale and the waves were around 8-9 metres high!
What the hell?
On a boat in a gale with a young child. This was a new experience for me! Thinking that I should never have watched the Titanic movie, I craned my neck to check the status and location of those lifeboats again. Just in case they might be needed.
The crew got busy handing around paper vomit bags and ice chips, as food, drinks and trays started to fall off the cafeteria shelves around us, making several loud metallic crashes. This was serious!
Apparently ice chips are a help if you are feeling seasick or nauseous, so Miss 10 had her face buried in a cup of these for the next 45 minutes without respite. I felt ok as long as I watched the land, and sucked on an ice chip when the big crashes came.
Seas were now getting rougher, and rough and the waves repeatedly crashing over the bow.. and this was no small boat. Time to head up to the back of the boat and stick our heads out into the wind, trying not to get our fingers jammed in the heavy doors as they slammed shut, when the boat listed this way and that.
Going up several flights of stairs holding a backpack, that is swinging violently from side to side across my back, in one hand and a child in the other, meant there was no way to hold on to a hand rail, so I had to rely on my sense of balance to make any progress at all. Am I going to survive this? What was the name of that ferry that sunk that time – the Wahine? Would this boat be another Wahine?
After reaching the back row of seats, I thought perhaps I should phone my other half, back in Australia, to tell him in the conditions in which I was sailing, in case I didn’t make it and guess what? He just chuckled in response! “At least you have phone coverage he said! ” Clearly no sympathy was coming from that quarter….
Now, I know what you are thinking – could this be that I was just an over-reacting ‘landlubber? In my defense, many of the passengers, including some kiwis, who had been seen entering the bar as we set sail, suddenly re-appeared on the rear deck, joining those of us gripping their cups of ice-chips, therefore, my story can not be dismissed as ‘first-timer’ exaggeration.
Here is the video of a similar crossing:
Minutes later, I sensed a turning point has been reached, and the seas appeared to calm slightly, so I thought I’d snap the picture you see above the video, before the sea completely calms, if that ever does happen and the boat stops the listing.
But what awaited ahead of us was nothing less than mind-blowing!
To be continued on Tuesday next week. Check out other travel posts here
Something to Ponder About