Monday, January 28, 2013

Leaving Moreton Bay (Brisbane) 12/28/2013

We woke to fog and an announcement that the Port of Brisbane was still closed and the city had experienced flooding and damage from the storm. How ironic that we were there two days ago with our guide explaining how the city is prone to flooding and had experienced a major flood in 2011.

Even though the port was closed, we had been given clearance to leave. We would wait for the noon update of the forecast and head to sea at 1 pm.

At 11am another announcement was made that a medical emergency had occurred onboard and a helicopter would soon be arriving to take one of the passengers to shore. We were asked to stay off all open decks and would be advised when this operation was complete. Soon after, we heard the helicopter hovering overhead. It circled the ship, landed on the pool deck and left within a matter of minutes.

Yet another announcement was made that the operation had been completed and we would be on our way momentarily. The captain was making arrangements for the pilot boat and would update us at noon. We should expect the seas to be rough, but the worst of the weather had passed. From our window we could now see land in the distance and the sun starting to break through the clouds.

At noon the captain announced that we would begin to make our way out of the bay and when we entered the ocean it would be rough. Conditions would improve as the day progressed. He cautioned us to hold the handrails when we walked and avoid the open decks. He was sorry to announce, but because of sea conditions and the fact that we would have headwinds, stops in Whitsunday and Cairns were cancelled. This meant that we would have no chance to see the Great Barrier Reef. We were quite disappointed as we expected the Reef to be one of the highlights of the trip, but knew that no one could control Mother Nature.

We headed downstairs for lunch in the dining room on the fourth floor. Sitting by the window, as we exited the bay, the waves were indeed high. We felt as if we were on the river-rafting trip, going through the rapids. We would see a wave growing larger as it made its way towards us. We would ride the wave to its crest and then plunge downward as it passed us. One wave in particular was extremely large and as we plunged downward water covered the entire window. Glasses went flying as the ship rocked from side to side. It was estimated that the wave was at the least 8 - 10 feet tall.

Conditions got worse, not better as we approached late afternoon. We continued to sway from side to side, ride the waves and when we plunged downward we heard a sound similar to a gunshot. We were now told that the waters would remain this way until midnight.

Fortunately Jon and I had taken precautions to prevent seasickness early in the day and were not affected. We napped, ate dinner and went to bed, hoping that the seas and the day would be calmer tomorrow.

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