Slow Boat to China #4

September 3. Sunset over Southern Vancouver Island on a sea as still as the water in my glass.

Picking up the pilot of Ogden Point, Victoria, BC. A scene we normally see from our window or along the Dallas Road Waterfront. (Patrick Lawson photo)

A perfect evening after a day of fog, with the Victoria coastline so clear we can make out not only our apartment building but the flowers on our balcony. Well, almost.


Slow Boat to China #3

Mist over the river (Patrick Lawson photo)

Night passage up the Columbia River under a full moon. A blue moon, since it’s the second one in August. Daybreak is stunning.

Spend the day in Portland. Markets, markets.

Back again the next day, this time taking a cab from the terminal only as far as the Expo Centre (a quarter of the cost of going downtown) and hopping on the wonderful light rail MAX. For $5.00 an all day pass, anywhere you want to go. (Only $2 for Patrick) Finally found some binoculars and tried them out on a walk along the Willemette River before returning to the ship. Almost 2 full days shore leave.

Mist over farmlands, along the Columbia River (Patrick Lawson photo) 

Slow Boat to China #2

We board the Hanjin Geneva in Seattle the evening of August 30 after a day exploring Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square but mostly hanging out on the waterfront watching for our ship to come in. Wanted to check out the Seattle Public Library for my book titles but was dismayed to find it closed. Impressive night view from the wing deck. Full moon, city lights, Ferris wheel in patterns of greens and blues. Nice touch. Thanks, Seattle. Containers still being unloaded by the time we go to sleep. It’s a quiet procedure, a low hum of whirring cables. 

At breakfast we discover we’re not the only passengers. Hans, from Switzerland, boarded in Pusan, South Korea, and is getting off in Vancouver. He’s been on 36 freighter trips, beginning in 1976. Name a shipping route and he’s been on it. Many of the best ones, unfortunately, are no longer available because the particular shipping lines are no longer in service. We looked into them some 10 years ago, thinking, must do that trip. But didn’t. Kick, kick. And speaking of kicks to self, I forgot to pack two essentials on sea trips: binoculars and ginger tea. Portland shopping list.

Dolphins leaping in the bow wave (Patrick Lawson photo)

Leave Seattle August 31 at 8:30 a.m. and head west along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Familiar coastline. Smooth sailing.

In the afternoon the 3rd Mate gives us a bow to stern tour of the ship’s safety equipment and procedures. What to do and where to go in case of …  Afternoon’s entertainment is trying on our immersion suits.  Hope we never have to do it in a hurry.

Hope we never face an incident like the disastrous one on board the MSC FLAMINIA in July. Fire at sea, crew and two passengers rescued by an oil tanker, two fatalities.