Friday 1 November 2019

Fuller(s) excitement

I don't know. I've been all over the place, going up in hot air balloons and small planes, riding horses, swimming with whale sharks, getting close to bears and rhino and lions, climbing peaks and going down into caves, scuba diving and kayaking, and the most proper drama I've witnessed was heading across to lunch in the city today on the Waiheke ferry.

Well, actually, there was that time I was mugged in Santiago - oh, and dislocated my shoulder in Norfolk, and, um, got tipped out of a white-water raft near Taupo, and, that's right, ran aground in a ship off Stewart Island... but I'm sticking to my premise, that this afternoon it could have got really nasty on board Fullers' Quick Cat. 

Not that it did, of course, I'm here typing this and besides, this is New Zealand, even a fire on board a ferry is a laid-back experience. Because that's what happened: I was sitting reading the local rag in the main cabin when there was a flurry behind me and a serious-looking life-jacket-clad staff member was opening a hatch I'd always wondered about below the window, and dragged a fire hose out of it, and across to the door. An announcement told us that there was a problem with one of the engines and we might like to go outside to avoid any fumes. Not many did.

Then we were told that, actually, we all had to go up to the top deck because the starboard engine had caught fire and we needed to be in the open. So we trooped up there, a bit bemused, no-one particularly worried, tourists laughing, and got whipped about by the chilly wind for a while until we were allowed down into the upper cabin. "The fire is contained," we kept being told and, apart from a faint smell, that seemed to be it. 

Except that obviously the engine was out of commission, so we had to limp across the harbour on one engine at just 8 knots, so our journey ended up being about three times longer than usual. Never mind, we had entertainment: the Coastguard gave us an escort, and the police launch Deodar III came alongside so three firemen in all their clobber could leap on board.
Eventually we chugged up to the pier where, kudos to the skipper, we eased into the mooring with no hiccups. There was a fire engine waiting by the Ferry Building, and more firemen on the pier, a couple pushing a stretcher for a crew member who, we learned on the TV news that night, had been overcome by fumes. And that was it. Apologies from the skipper, and thanks for our understanding, and everyone trooped ashore as usual, faintly relieved at not having had to get wet.
All in all, it was a lot more traumatic way back in 2006 when I fell off the side of a staircase in a holiday house we were renting on Waiheke, knocking myself out on the washing machine below, and breaking my wrist. The local ambulance people took me to the jetty - somehow, can't remember - and I rode in the original Deodar across the harbour to a waiting ambulance that took me to hospital. I missed out on being delivered there from Waiheke by the Eagle helicopter because it was attending a big crash up north, which also meant that I was left waiting for hours on a stretcher under a bright light while the casualties from that accident were seen to. Not that I'm bitter, at all... Oh, and they sent me home next day in a taxi, bare-footed and wearing somebody else's ghastly too-big top because they'd cut mine off. Tch.

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