After saying goodbye to my family I was escorted through the wharf and onto the Aurora Australis. This was going to be my home for the next 12 or so days. The weather report was not great so we were expecting a rough few days after we left Tasmania. Because of this, we made sure to do all of the ship inductions and safety briefings as soon as we were on the ship.
Firstly, we learnt about immersion suits and how to put them on. They are basically big dry suits that float and are meant to keep you warm if you happen to end up in the water. We’d only need these if we had to evacuate the boat, so we hoped that this was the one and only time we would put those suits on. We also got into the life rafts and learnt about how and when they would be used. Lastly, the Captain called an emergency muster drill, where we had to grab our life jackets and meet at the designated muster point on the heli-deck at the back of the ship.
Before we were allowed to leave we also had to go through Customs, like you would in an airport. We filled out a departure card and a Customs agent on board cleared us all for departure. Once our baggage had been cleared and placed in our cabins we were allowed into our rooms, where we could unpack and meet our cabin mates. The space is a little tight but we all fit everything in and stowed all our loose items away so that nothing would move around if the sea got extremely rough.
After we’d settled in, the ship’s doctor handed out sea sickness pills for anyone who may need them. I had already been taking mine so all I needed to do was to take another round and hope that it would be enough for the rest of the night. Our departure was delayed by 2 hrs due to some cargo loading issues so we all got to eat a nice big dinner and settle down before we hit the open ocean. As soon as the boat left the wharf we all went up onto the heli-deck and watched as we travelled down the channel, away from Hobart and into the Southern Ocean. Pat drove down to the beach at Blackman’s Bay to wave the ship goodbye and we spoke on the phone one final time before my service ran out.
By then it was dark and most people were feeling drowsy from the sea sickness medication so we went to bed just as the ship started to rock. I was hoping that a night in the open ocean would be enough to acclimatise me to the waves so I would be alright in the morning.