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Yesterday’s improvised hike and good, hard sailing saw the entire ship heavy-eyed and yawning well before Kylie dished up a feast of lamb chops and vegetables. A sleepy, yet content silence drifted casually from bow to stern and was interrupted only by cheers in acknowledgement of the pot of custard that appeared somewhat magically after dinner. As the custard and plums exhausted themselves rapidly, Captain Miss Sophie tuned an expert ear in to the weather forecast. Day Five was predicted to be our last day of sunshine and buttercups before the wind and rain are due to turn them to gales and thistles. A benevolent Captain gave the trainees the opportunity to plan their last day of smooth sailing, which they took upon themselves with gusto, which brings us to today’s blog:

Deepwater Cove and Cape Brett instantly became destinations in demand, but the journey to tonight’s safe anchorage required time that would possibly be spent elsewhere. Compromise saw the morning swim delayed until Deepwater Cove under the condition that morning duties were done top-notch and in good time. With the days plan set in ink and paper, the ship fell silent aside from snores and the occasional ‘mooing’.

Up at the crack of dawn and down the hatches gathering buckets, brooms and brass polish, the trainees jumped straight from their bunks and into their duties. Below decks drowsy, determined hands gripped mops, brooms and scrubbers whilst the top-deck chill was offset by the burning pace set by the mornings deck-swabbers and affectionately dubbed ‘Bucket Boys’. The ships pristine sparkle was matched only by the jealous sunrise that revived numb fingertips and furrowed brows as breakfast pots arrived in the saloon, sent back empty without hesitation.

With breakfast dishes a thing of the past, Leah was handed the helm and we made way for Deepwater Cove. Arriving to a cloudless morning sky, the trainees donned their wetsuits, as well as the odd pair of footy shorts and set off on what I would have to say could well and truly be the best morning swim yet. Guided by Rob and Kylie, the youth were taken for a brief glimpse at the world of underwater spelunking. They snorkelled through a short tunnel that not only made the all-important funny gurgling sounds they love so much, but also made a haven for the local fish and assorted marine wildlife. Pufferfish, lobster, snapper and trevally swam unfazed by the thirteen foreigners who goggled and snapped photos in amazement. They returned bursting with stories, a kina sack and the need for a warm shower, so we set our main sail and continued on for Cape Brett.

Greeted at the Cape by fishing boats of various descriptions and the wake from Mack Attack, lifejackets were donned and the tender pawed its way cautiously into the caves and through the famous Hole in the Rock, described by Mariah as being the ‘Whole Bay of Islands experience’. Anglers waved cheerily and the hidden ‘face in the cliff-face’ watched over Tucker, her tender and her angling friends as we shared the sights, the shine and the odd tangled line and propeller blade. With the Bay’s newest eleven tourists having had their ‘whole Bay of Islands experience’, the tender was hoisted to it’s station and a fresh, crisp breeze pushed us happily on our way. With our voyage’s in-house vocalist Georgia at the helm we made way for Palm Bay, the home of this afternoons activities. Having found herself at home behind the wheel, she left her post only when seals were spotted loitering on a rocky outcrop not far from Deepwater Cove. At first it was thought there was only a solitary seal, but the others, cleverly camouflaged on the rock face were soon spotted out by keen eyes on board. With many of us on board having witnessed the spectacle for the first time, we sailed on thoroughly pleased with the days events so far.

Lunch was initially a smoked chicken pasta bake, soon combined and mashed together with yesterday’s strangely tantalising ‘pumpkin, curry, whatever soup’, thirteen satisfied appetites were dropped ashore at Palm Bay for an afternoon hike around Moturoa Island. The hours between our landfall and return to Palm Bay were filled with scenic vistas, flourishing birdsongs, good company and even better conversation. With time to kill before our return back to the ship, sunbathers sunbathed and those with energy to burn kicked up a game of Bullrush. Back on deck, but soon in the water a mid-afternoon swim cooled the burn of Moturua’s valleys and bush trails. Refreshed and relaxed, we set off to rest our sleepy heads at Orokawa Bay.

Soggy swimwear hung on the lines and salted seamen dealt cards in the saloon. The galley was busy producing a mammoth banana cake With the cake in the oven and chicken marinating soon after, the card games spread into the galley and nav-station as a crimson sunset streaked provokingly through cirrus clouds that are said to signal an impending change in the weather. With their minds and noses paying more attention to the dinner that draws closer, the table was cleared of cards and soon adorned with cutlery, condiments and china bearing satay chicken, rice and steamed vegetables.

Not a scrap was left as eleven hungry youth licked their lips and rubbed their bellies satisfied not only with the demolished cuisine, but the success of what was planned as and soon made to be, their day. The finishing touches are currently being applied to our monstrous banana cake and I fear that if I don’t pull myself away from the computer screen it will be gone before I even set my eyes on it! All-in-all, Day Five seems to have been a hit for all on board. Hopefully the foul weather will hold off for the remainder of our trip, but all we can do is hope. Ah well… Should the weather turn foul, at least we’ll have cake to cheer us up!!

Until tomorrow!