Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

22 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 11.

This is a diary from 1960. The actual entries are in typewriter font. Added comments are in red. The photographs are from that date, some in colour (expensive in those days).

31st January

Being confined to my cabin has been very tiresome, the [air] temperature is very high. Pat went to the doctor and asked him if I could get up because of the heat and he agreed as long as I stayed inert and did not over-eat! So I am up and the weather is superb and this evening we cross the equator.

We saw a large turtle this morning, it was lazily wallowing in the deep, blue, inviting sea. It was all of 24 inches across [60cm] and a sandy colour. It didn’t give a damn about us.

1st February

Another uneventful day spent lazing about on deck. Saw a shark lolloping about in the water close by the side of the ship, not very large or impressive! Numerous flying fish which take off at the approach of the ship and fly away at right angles to our course. They are bluish in colour and very small.

2nd February

During the morning the ship slowed right down for about an hour. There was a certain amount of speculation about the reason why. The funniest idea I heard was that the doctor was performing an appendectomy! My appendix!!! The actual reason, we later heard, was that there was a fault in one of the engines and that the ship was put into slow ahead while the faulty engine was being serviced. This sounds much more reasonable.

[Over the following years the  appendix story became changed to another in which a woman, the ship’s gossip, had sat down beside us in a deck lounger and told us that ‘that poor boy who’d been ill had died and was being buried at sea’. I think I fancied that like Mark Twain upon reading his own obituary in the newspapers, I could claim that ‘reports of my death have been grossly exaggerated’.

While the ship was almost at a standstill all of the background noise, creaking and vibration that we had become used to ceased, and we rolled on a light swell in an eerie silence. Only then did the complete isolation of a ship at sea - especially where we were - dawn upon me.]


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By Don Donovan