The unfortunate item about Melbourne is the pilotage time. To be alongside, gangway in and ready for Immigration officials means that we have to take the pilot at least 4 hours before. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realise that to achieve this schedule, we take the pilot around 4 a.m. Thus it was at 3 a.m. that my bedside phone rang. 😯
There were two cruise-ships scheduled for arrival today, us and the “Europa”; she was meant to go in before us, however, for some inexplicable reason, she offered her ‘slot’ to us, (I wasn’t complaining) and it was actually at 3:45 a.m. that our pilot boarded.
The arrival in Melbourne can be a challenging one, particularly if there are high winds and Spring tides. The combination of the two can result in ‘standing’ waves, big ones, caused by a strong tidal current, (up to 8 knots) and a wind, blowing in opposition. It is actually charted and called “The Rip” as a result.
The weather-Gods were looking down on us this morning though, tidal current of around 2 knots and moderate south-west winds. Pilot boarded, I went through a (comprehensive) discussion with the pilot, while our 2nd Officer kept the con and took us onto the leading lights of the Great Ship Channel, the entrance to Melbourne Bay. Briefing with the pilot complete, we made our way through the entrance and then made a 90° turn to starboard into a buoyed channel. As is my habit, a chart below, a picture is worth a thousand words and. as always, this is for you and is not used for navigation.
Just off this chart above, is another turn, this one to port which will take us into the relatively wide, Melbourne Bay. No need for buoys or markers here, deep water for 20 miles or so as we head north towards the next set of beacons and buoys, the approach to the harbour itself.
We reduce speed when we reach the relatively shallow channel and continue to do so as we approach the berth. A ‘wheelie’ is called for here, a 180° turn and then astern towards the berth, port side alongside for 7:20 and gangway in for 7:35, ready for Clearance procedures.
As is the norm, my camera has gone, in Australian terms “walkabout” 🙄 K1 is ashore, so a couple of photos taken by moi. (Not long ’til Sydney and the camera shop, yeah)!
Our first Australian port this year, we have the inevitable Port State Control inspection, this one done by the Australian Maritime Authority. 4 inspectors, drills and a thorough inspection of the vessel’s working systems, the Working hours of the personnel and even the provision rooms to ensure there is enough food on board 😯 . 4 hours after arrival, they leave satisfied. It’s been a long day and in 4 hours, we sail for Sydney…..