2023 – 2 – Grand World 2.2 of 5 More of Australia

I neglected to mention that we actually docked in Hobart, Tasmania, yesterday evening, February 13, which was why I was in the Crow’s Nest early. It’s interesting to be on the pointy end going in and I had friends in the persons of Cindy and Frank.  I had also been nursing cold symptoms for much of the day and had taken a COVID test to be sure it would be OK for me to come out.  Of course, it was, or I wouldn’t have.

I was glad of the port day, too, as I could use it to rest and recuperate.  I missed a good day, though.  It was a holiday and the tall ships were in town.  The yacht club, which was just beside us, had opened its main committee boat for public viewing.  They use it to open and close the festival.  Nona texted me from shore about it, adding that Princess Diana had been on it.  I would certainly have grooved on that but every once in a while, you have to take care of your bod, so it will take care of you the rest of the time.

I also missed Bonorong Wildife Sanctuary, which I am noting here for the next time.  Dee never misses it.  You can cuddle the animals, all but the Tazmanian devils, who will take your arm off.

Today we were cruising Cape Raoul and it was scenic.  While I was working in my cabin, with the balcony door open, my steward knocked on the door with a delivery.  It was a lovely box of truffles and the box itself was made of chocolate.  It came from Anvers, Tasmania, a gift of one of my couples, in thanks for my efforts to get them into the group.  It was gorgeous and yummy, somewhere between milk and dark chocolate.  The rose came from the Captain and crew.

I was suitably cheered up, tested myself for COVID, again and went to dinner, just with Lynann.  The Wescotts are having two big Pinnacle parties and we are invited to next month’s one.  It was fine with me.  I like Lynann and it gave us the chance to have a nice frank conversation, talk a little business and dish the dirt.  Australian Comedian Jim Short was on the Main Stage and he was pretty funny. 

Tuesday, February 14 was Valentine’s Day and we were still at sea.  Three or four people had business with me and I puttered the afternoon away, took another COVID test and went to dinner.  On formal nights, the ship sends us an officer, as a “table host”.  That means he buys wine for us.  Tonight’s was an Officer Cadet, named Ranier.  He is Dutch and 22 years old, lots of fun for the LOLs.  We gave him an earful of the kind of stuff the ship wants to learn by sending the officers out among us.  He’ll have plenty to report. 

We weren’t going to dock in Adelaide until early afternoon, on Wednesday, February 15 so I did a bit of yacht club research in the morning.  I found out that the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron was in the Outer Harbour, where we were docking, and that it had Wednesday night races, which I took to mean “Sailors Suppers”.  I took down its address and web site and filed it away for later. 

At three o’clock, I went out with Nona and Beryl. We caught the commuter train into the centre of town and took off for Rundle Mall.  It was a useful sort of shopping trip, got a few essentials, but didn’t see a suitable pub.  So we took a tram back to the train station and got the 5:42 back to Outer Harbour.  Ir was 6:30 by the time we got there and Nona liked the Yacht Club idea.  Tom and Tracy McClintock happened to be in our rail car, so I asked them if they would like to join us, and they did.  We took a short taxi ride to the club and I presented my credentials.  They were accepted and we were invited to choose a table on the patio.

The patio overlooks the harbour and beyond that a breakwater that they must have sold to build their nice modern clubhouse because this is the view:

Most of the tables on the patio were taken.  By all that’s right and holy, these people should have been in their boats, tacking and jibing and coming about, but, there was no wind.  It was a beautiful night but it was dead calm.  So the race had been called.  A couple of officers came over to talk to us and next thing you knew, someone was on a microphone introducing us, with our hometowns, and my credentials from two yacht clubs.  We were being treated like celebrities. 

The food was delicious and people kept stopping by our table to chat.  It was a fabulous experience.  One of the members even drove us back to the ship.  Now THAT is hospitality. 

When I got back to my cabin, the message light was on, on my phone.  I decided to leave it for the morning.  I won’t be doing that again.  It was Linda Starr, telling us they had hired a driver for a wine tour to the Barossa Valley in the morning, and would I like to come.  About that pig’s ass, but I had to ask if Nona could come, too, because I was committed to her.  Yes, she would be welcome, and yes, she wanted to come, so tomorrow is well taken care of.

Still in Adelaide, on Wednesday, February 15, Nine in the morning came quickly and the four of us were out meeting Slade, right near the ship.  It was his first wine tour.  Arthur and Linda had talked him into doing it in a bar the night before.  He had done a little research, and he knew who the top three boutique wineries were, so we were all set. 

Our first winery was Kies, where we were greeted by Megan, who was lovely, of course.  What was more lovely is that they don’t charge for wine tastings in the Barossa Valley, which is the Australian equivalent of Napa, where they charge plenty.  Megan explained basket pressing to us.  It’s not something we had heard of before.  We do it with bladders in California.  I really liked the 2020 Klauber Block Shiraz and the 2020 Cab Sav, The Suit.  It’s a pity I am too cheap to give the ship another $18 for corkage as these were good value at AUD 35 and 55 respectively.  I am regretting this as I write.

Next came a strange interlude where we tried to find Slade’s second winery and ended up on all sorts or roads where there was nothing at all.  In the middle of all this seeking, we came upon his third winery, so we decided to go in there.  It looked good to us:

And we thought we looked good on its steps.  We went inside and found Luke to take care of us.  The winery was Chateau Yaldara and Luke was a big, burly guy, covered in tattoos, and just as nice as could be.  We tasted a 2022 Sauvignon Blanc that wasn’t acidic at all.  I loved it and I should have bought some.  Next we had the 2018 Foundations Shiraz, which was perfectly delicious.  I wasn’t as big on the Petit Verdots, but their Tawny (Port that you cannot call Port) was to die for.  His wife had incorporated it into chocolates that made me break my fast.  Now, if they had been selling those, I would surely have bought some.  It’s probably just as well, though, because the temperature was going up over a hundred and we were a long way from the ship.

We left Chateau Yaldara very happy and got happier still when we happened to spy the big signs for Keller Meister that everyone had been telling us about, everyone but google maps, that is.  We turned in there and it was just stunning, as were the wines, served by the very personable Kerry.  She served us a very nice 2021 Pinot Gris from the Eden Valley, called Rambling Ruins and a 2019 Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro called The Funk Wagon.  When we reacted nicely, she got into the Luxury reds, like the 2020 Black Sash Old Vine Barossa Shiraz, which goes for $88.50AUD and the 2018 Roccamora Single Vineyard Ancestor Vine Stonegarden Eden Valley Grenache at $175/bottle, and the 2017 The Meister – Single Vineyard Eden Valley Shiraz at $265/bottle that won Best of the Best Shiraz at the 2021 Halliday Wine Competition.  She never charged us a penny to pour all this beautiful wine.  This Napa girl thought she had died and gone to heaven and this is what heaven looks like to Nona and Helen.

Slade dropped us back at St. Francis Cathedral in Adelaide around two o’clock, as it was on Nona’s bucket list and the Starrs wanted to see it, too.  The more I tour churches in other parts of the world, the more I appreciate Montreal, where we decommission churches that are more beautiful than most new world cities’ cathedrals.  I’ll bone up on ours if anyone who visits me is interested.  St. Francis was in easy walking district of the Central Market, and markets are always on our list.  So is Chinese food and Slade had told us of BBQ City, with the Ducks and Char Siu hanging in the window.  We went in and had a meal that doubled as breakfast and supper.

So, we went to the early show, and it was a good one, a local Australian group, called “The Beggars”.  They were very like The Seekers (Georgy Girl, etc.) and very entertaining. 

Friday, February 17, we were in Penneshaw, on Kangaroo Island.  It was a tender port, there was no rush to get off, and I had work to do.  When I did go out around noon, I met Lynann on the tender and we hooked up.  We took the shuttle up to the top of the mountain and then to the center of the tiny town.  There are only 5,000 people on this little piece of heaven, and they are spread all over the place.  Their lifeline is a very businesslike looking ferry to the mainland.  On days like this, when there’s a ship, there’s a crafts market and artists and other vendors come over from the mainland.  Their wildlife rescue team has a booth, too.  That’s the kind of thing I like to support, so I bought six art carts for $20 AUD, which was actually a bargain, period.  They had brought a rescue joey with them.  This little guy was the size of your fist, all pink and hairless, when his mother got killed.  He’s eight weeks old now and appears to be thriving.  I asked to take his picture and was told I had to buy something, and, since I already had, you get a look at this adorable little guy.  They have a few months to go before he is up and running and ready to re-join a herd, if one will take him.  But he’s awfully cute and I wish him luck.

We went around to the rest of the booths and had some interesting chats with the vendors.  One of the things we learned is that we are one of the friendliest ship populations they have had through.  I get that.  We are together for four months and get to be more like family.  Someone told me the gelato place down the road’s product was special, so I planned to break my fast with a salted caramel honey gelato in a magic cone.  I could just taste it, as we went through the local IGA, which was a good one. I popped another six yoghurts in my bag for breaking other fasts.  I can’t have tea all the time, too many carbs.

Lynann fell in love with the blue-eyed Greek, who was dispensing the gelato.  He had run out of salted caramel but one scoop of honey gelato and one of the darkest chocolate gelato I had ever met satisfied me but good.  Lynann wanted to take the vendor home with her.  He was pretty cute. 

Our table was reunited for dinner and Jim Short was on stage again and even better than the first time. 

Back at sea on Saturday, February 18,  office hour was quiet, so I had a long talk with Manesh, 2IC to the Hotel Manager.  If anyone is going to Singapore anytime soon, eat at Zam Zam.  It’s Malaysian, Indian, Arab fusion.  Have matapa, which is naan with meat curry with everything in it. The fish head curry is fabulous, too.  Are you salivating yet?  We talked about a lot of food and some drink.  I recommended the Atlas Gin Bar for his next trip, and we’ll both end up in the Newton Circus Hawker Center, eating chili crab, because we always do.

We had our 4th of 6 cocktail parties, with 47 people attending.  The hors d’oeuvres are good and the wine flows.  No one complains.  A couple of people, hearing about the RSAYS wanted to know when the next yacht club would be, so I’ll research Perth.  Thirty of them came to dinner in the dining room afterwards and that was a lot of fun.  There is a core group that likes to come to these things and they are getting along famously. There was a production show on stage to top the night off. 

There was one more sea day, Sunday, February 19. I did a little googling for yacht clubs in Perth and struck gold.  We are going to be there on a Tuesday night, when there isn’t usually all that much doing, but it seemed this Tuesday was the night of the New Members’ Dinner.  We had either lucked out or were going to be summarily turned away.  So I wrote the club: “I am a member of both the Royal Hong Kong (life absent) and the Royal St. Lawrence (active) Yacht clubs. Attached is one of my letters of introduction.  Currently sailing around the world, on the ms Zuiderdam, I will be in Perth on Tuesday, February 21 and staying overnight. I would love to bring a few friends to visit. Would it be appropriate for us to come to your New Members “A Taste of Nepal? It sounds delicious. How many people would you allow me to bring?“

And in a second email, quickly added: “ After I wrote that, I continued browsing your site and it brought back a great memory. I was in Newport in 1983 for the America’s Cup. As a member of the RStLYC, I was on one of the Canadian frigates that was serendipitously used as a buoy by Australia II and the British entry, Victory.83, at the start of their race. I’ll never forget that experience. They went around us three or four times and we couldn’t figure out how Australia II was turning on a dime… It’s history, now.”

As it was Sunday, I didn’t get an immediate reply, but when I did, it was perfect.  Our little group of six was back at the dinner table, after a few days off, and it was fun catching up.  The show was Sand Artist, John Thiering, and it was very clever, but it was hard to stay awake.