My supplies for the year were packed into a 1-metre cube, as were those of my fellow 120 expeditioners. It was surreal to watch the crane lift our gear on board. There would be no chemist, Target or David Jones to duck into and replenish my supplies. I hoped anything I had overlooked or undersupplied wouldn't be critical.
My whole family came down to wave us off from the dock. It was a highly emotional occasion for all the expeditioners, but particularly for Stan.
Stan, a 65-year-old carpenter from Adelaide, was one of my summerers and was returning for his seventh summer expedition. He had just celebrated his fortieth wedding anniversary with his gorgeous wife Madge, who adored him. They were an old-style couple and she did everything for him. She would pack his lunch everyday and make a thermos for smoko. At home, dinner was at 6 pm and lights-out at 9 pm. Each trip, Madge would come aboard with Stan and make up his bunk for him, and they would sit together and quietly say goodbye away from the hubbub of the dock.
But things changed after 9/11. Now only expeditioners and ship's crew were allowed on board. No general public and no relatives meant no stowaways or sabotage, no sneaking bombs on board. I wasn't happy with this, no one was, but these were the rules. It was hard for Stan and ...