Sailing on the Akaroa

On board, ship life very quickly settled down to a regular routine, with set times for meals, games and other entertainment. There were a fair number of children on board, but I was only allowed to play with them on the open decks because of my cough. They were a toffee nosed lot anyway except one young French boy who could not speak English. We had a lot of fun trying to teach each other our own languages. We would draw pictures and write the name under them and say what it was or try to mime it. I dont think either of us learnt much but it was fun and filled in a lot of time.

There were plenty of games and organised sports for us and when we were out in the warmer weather the crew set up a canvas swimming pool on the main deck. They set times when we could use it so that everyone had a fair chance to use it.

Our first stop on our journey was at Pitcairn Island but we could not go ashore as the water was not deep enough for the big ships to berth. We anchored off shore and the Islanders came out to us in canoes with all their goods to sell. They were not allowed on board so they came as close as possible and held up their goods or displayed them in their canoes, and if you wanted to look closer or buy something a sailor would let down a basket on a rope for the item. If it was kept, the money was sent back down in the basket. We were only there for a short while before sailing on towards the Panama Canal. We did make a couple of other port stops but I don’t remember where they were.

I can also remember going through a severe storm that lasted a couple of days and we were all shut indoors so as not to be washed overboard. It was so rough that anything not fastened down would end up on the deck.

The journey to Southampton took us five and a half weeks via Panama. The locks were amazing. We were towed into them by funny little motors like tractors that ran along the bank on each side. When we were safely in the first lock, huge metal doors closed behind us and water was pumped into the lock until it was filled level with the one in front of us. Then another set of doors would open and we were towed through to the next lock to do it all again, it was a slow process and took most of the day.

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