I have been meaning to mention this. You might be enjoying my narrative, but if you want a bunch of beautiful pictures of where we are, follow Captain Jonathan Mercer’s blog by going to www.captainjonathan.com and signing up. He’s very good and an easy read, in every way my favorite captain, on any line. He’s also a lot more up-to-date. This segment begins to explain why.
And, here’s a bit of news. I have my next assignment. It’s ‘round the British Isles on August 6. We like that gig, because it gives us an opportunity to see plays in London and friends in Dublin, and we’ll have our Montreal time, on the way in. Who wants to come with us? Do not post on the blog to sign up. Email me directly.
The last thing I did on the computer, before shutting it down on February 2, was to load on Michael Innis’ photos from the wine tour, and my own, onto my computer. Then I cleared off my camera, which was a mistake, and left the computer in hibernation, unplugged, I was that tired. This morning, after I plugged it in and waited a while, Windows reported that it was trying to recover and did I want to start it normally. You bet I did, but it was in a loop. No matter what choice I made, it kept wanting to recover from the recovery partition, which would restore factory defaults. The only upside was that I would be able to repartition the computer to one partition and make use of all the space on the hard drive. It had arrived with three-quarters drive D and only one quarter, drive C. Since C is where all the programs run, and they outweigh the data probably three to one, it’s nonsense.
As the computer was almost three years old, and we were at sea, that was an unpleasant solution. It warned me that it would lose all files. Luckily my backup was only a couple of days before, but still. I took it to Nicola, the IT Manager, to see if he had a better idea, or to have a shoulder to cry on when I bit the bullet. I called Michael Holt, too, and the three of us mourned, as it turned the clock back. We are still pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and our next stop is Picton, New Zealand, not a major metropolis. I figured out a game plan and Michael volunteered to help me rebuild the system in Picton. Then I went to the gym with Elvon. There was no more I could do. Losing your computer is almost worse than getting sick yourself. It is certainly more depressing.
That night we had the Le Cirque Dinner in the Pinnacle, with our regular table mates. I made it through dinner and was somewhat cheered up by the entertainment, Ashley Carruthers, fun on a piano. But it was a sad puppy that went to bed.
The next day we docked in Picton, NZ, which turned out to be a tiny little town. There wasn’t enough WiFi anywhere for a ship load of people. You should have seen the crowd in the library. Bars and restaurants were no better. We bought a couple of US to Oz plug adapters and a day-room in the best hotel in town for $100NZ, about $70 to me. That was a lot of fun, I must have looked like an old cougar. Michael is half my age and very buff.
The day room offered peace to work and a comfortable setting, but even there, the Internet wasn’t much. The town gets it off a satellite, same as the ship. But we had two computers to download software on, and soon had Microsoft Office up and running, and the most basic Windows updates applied. While PhotoShop was taking forever to download, we worked on changing my email client to Outlook, because I take a lot of abuse for still using the AOL Desktop. So we had AOL forward to gmail and set up Outlook to go to gmail. When we left it was still transferring 6 years of emails to the gmail server and it started in 2011. Then they have to come in to Outlook, which died trying to load them in, because of the lousy Internet.
I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone who wasn’t doing it overnight in the privacy of his or her own home. I wouldn’t plan on taking the computer out in the morning, either. Outlook was downloading every message I had left on the AOL server since 2011. I am lucky it wasn’t longer. I have been on AOL since 1995. I went back to the AOL Desktop in a hurry and haven’t dared open Outlook since, never mind gmail.
That was an adventure, too. The new version of AOL Desktop is missing my favorite function “Run Automatic AOL”, which is Send/Receive in Outlook, and enables me to work offline all day and just take ten minutes of expensive ship’s Internet, once a day. Luckily, that night I met Jan Yetke and whined about it. She said she had never used “Run Automatic AOL”. You just drag and drop from your IN basket to any file in “Saved on my computer”, and I have been doing that ever since, with great success. Thanks, Jan.
With all of that, I never had time to load Norton on, nor finish the Windows updates, so there was another marathon shore session on the horizon, but, at least I could work. I was a little happier that night and really enjoyed Lee Bayless, the comedian who teaches you how to do comedy.
I had a lot to do, on February 5, bringing my manifest up to date from a paper copy, and recovering or re-writing various other bits that had been lost. I got a copy of Michael’s wine tour photos from the stick I had yet to return, but mine are lost forever. When I was back in a position to work, I started on a newsletter, as we had plans for Sydney and it was coming up. I took myself out of the HOHO Bus plan for Melbourne, as I had a computer to rehabilitate. I knew where I was going, too, The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. That should give me good, fast Internet, without having to compete with the rest of the ship.
Luckily the desk was fairly quiet. Our captain’s dinner in the Pinnacle was at 6:30 pm, so it was a short day, but I was glad of it. We went to bed early, skipping the entertainment, rather than waiting an hour for it. The Captain’s Dinner was delicious.
Still at sea on February 6, the desk was busier, as I worked through the process of completing the newsletter. I got the letters printed and delivered and used the Future Cruise Consultants to help me with an order from one of my own clients. It was a Saturday, so we went to Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest with seven other people. The evening’s entertainment was a production show: Mundo Latino.
Still at sea on February 7, I had a day to start catching up. I worked my own travel business, which finally contains a few HAL bookings, so I can talk to the Future Cruise Consultants (FCCs) and make bookings with only $100 down because I am on board. A few people dropped by the desk to talk about Melbourne and Sydney and sign up for my dinners.
I finalized Sydney arrangements with Debbie Amos and Sue Jamieson from HK, who was in Sydney over Chinese New Year, PhotoShopped some pictures, and wrote some words, not nearly enough. The show was excellent: the Australian Tenors. Not Pavarotti and Placido, but good enough.
On February 8, 2016, we docked in Melbourne, Australia. I still had a lot of software to load onto the computer and a lot of Windows updates to take. I needed good WiFi and a nice quiet place to work. I settled on the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. The helpful people at the pier told me it was a 15 to 20 minute walk. After 15 minutes, what I thought was it, was still in the distance. I found a taxi. That was a very good thing, because it was a lot farther along the water. It was also closed, but the office was open and the staff was friendly. I ended up with the chart room, all to myself.
I unpacked the computer and set it up. Then I started looking for an outlet, as I would surely need power for all I had to do. I spotted a tangle of wires across the room and took off in that direction. The power cord was hanging over the side of the table and I got caught in it, sending the power supply to the floor. I have probably done this a hundred times before, but this one was the one. Once I got it in, the power light didn’t come on. This is not good, but a little wigging and a piece of scotch tape got me back in business for the afternoon. I downloaded and installed Norton, took a ton of Windows updates, and dealt with the day’s email. I installed PhotoShop and Cute PDF writer, and a couple of other useful bits.
My work environment was top notch. It was quiet, steeped in history, and beautiful, if a little funky. I wished I could have stayed until after five o’clock, when the bar would open, but I had to get back to the ship. My taxi pulled in just behind the chefs’. They filled six luggage carts, with purchases of new dishes and décor for the events that would commence when the big bosses board in Sydney.