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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : The Coral Sea by «Container Ship-Hitchhiking»

Once again, I almost got caught by the paperwork reality. Three days before the end of my tourist visa in New Zealand, I succeeded to keep undertaking my world tour by hitchhiking by finding a vehicle that would take me to Australia.

Three more days and I would have been asked to leave New Zealand and to surely have my passport confiscated. Now, I can extend my journey to a new country, which means to open a door towards new adventures.

However, I needed 5 weeks of full-time investigation to find this way of leaving New Zealand. As you already know, when the road stops and a sea or an ocean starts, it becomes a problem if you want to hitchhike. Adding to this, I did my researches during the beginning of the hurricane season. Already that it was difficult to swallow, now it seriously starts to hurt.

In the other hand, it is challenging enough to become motivating. I also know that more difficult it is, more joy you will feel out of the success. Here you can read how were those last weeks of research.

The research
The logical way to start my research was to begin by something I already know. In the past, I succeeded to cross the Atlantic and the Pacific by sailing boat-hitchhiking. The asset with this kind of vehicle is that you can have a direct interaction with the captains. Then, they usually have the power of decision. At the end, your way of arguing is often the only limit to get a ride. In few words: “Be persuasive!”

The sailing boats
I indeed went with good hope in the marinas of New Zealand. I seriously started to look for a boat in the “City of Sails” of Auckland. There are indeed thousands of sailing boats in the biggest city of New Zealand.

The Auckland basin, where the “America Cup” had happened in the past

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that we were soon to be in the hurricane season and that nobody would consider going now to Australia. I try to meet as much people in the sailing world, to go in the marinas and yacht clubs in the cities of Whangarei, Opua, Nelson... Everyone is telling me the same thing. I start to consider other options.

I will spend the following weeks in front of my computer screen.

The plane
I have never hitchhiked a plane during this world tour. I thought that was now a great opportunity to try. If nobody takes the sea, I am pretty sure that some will take the air.

I contact plane companies such «Air New Zealand» or «Virgin». I find out that some of them even have a sponsorship department. That is a good beginning!

After several days contacting different companies, I realize that those kind of corporation don't have an interest to help me in my journey. All my requests end by a no.

The cargo-plane
I think that if those companies have a sponsorship department, it surely means that they must receive a considerable number of requests.

Instead of losing my demand in the mass, I will try something that will be different. I discover that there are companies of cargo-plane, that are only delivering goods. I contact amongst other «Cargolux» or «DHL». The answers are also negatives, but this time for legal reasons.

The «caretaker»
More refusals I receive, less options I have in front of me. I have to be imaginative to find a solution, which sometimes leads me to weird ideas.

An English doctor that I met in Auckland told me about the transfer of organs between hospitals. He told me that there always were someone to take care of the organ during the transfer. This person was called a “caretaker”. As I am not a doctor, I couldn't be this person, but I still extended my research to know if the “caretaker” was used in other areas.

It happens that museums are using the same kind of people to take care of the some Items that are transferred between International Museums. I will have now to find the right approach to convince the right person...

Some days before, I met the Manager of the Royal Yacht Club Squadron of Auckland. He gave me his business card.

After a while, I discovered that the Director of the Auckland Museum was a member of the elitist Royal Yacht Club Squadron in Auckland. I think that he may also be a member of the one in New Zealand.

I was starting to see a good approach in front of me... I hope that the Manager of the Royal Yacht Club Squadron of Auckland will be able to convince the Director of the Auckland Museum to listen to my request. The idea is that I succeed to become the «caretaker» of an Item of the Auckland Museum that would be transfer to an Australian Museum.

The answer will be no.

The cargo-ship
The sea, the air, the little boats, the big planes, the little planes, it misses the big boats.

I investigated on every ship movements in the port of Auckland, Tauranga, Napier and Wellington. I sent a request to every company having a boat leaving on the way to Australia in the next tow months. Knowing that it is more difficult to get in touch with the right person in a company of this size, I ended up by sending an email to every single person of each company, from the secretary of the local office in New Zealand to the CEO of the head office often based in Europe.

I even succeeded to contact the whole board of Directors of the Royal Caribbean in the United States, that had a luxury cruising boat going to Australia.

After a good fifty refusals and hundreds of requests sent, I finally received a “yes” in my email box.


The crossing
The company Sofrana is offering me a ride from the city of Auckland in New Zealand to Brisbane in Australia, via Noumea in New Caledonia. I won't cross the Tasman Sea, as I will go through a part of the South Pacific Ocean before to cross the Coral Sea.

From New Zealand to Australia, via New Caledonia

We leave on the Friday October 28th from Auckland. We should stop in Noumea for few hours the Monday October 31th, then the arrival in Brisbane should be on Thursday November 3rd.

The only sure thing is that I am not late for the departure in Auckland!

I leave Auckland as I arrived

I discover the cargo ship “Sofrana Surville». The crew members are mainly coming from Ukraine, Russia and the Philippines. There is also a Burma and a Lithuanian.

The cargo Sofrana Surville

The crew of the Sofrana Surville

I have the possibility to visit the cargo. There are 7 floors in the central tower. The best view of the sea is on the last one, called the “bridge”. I got the authorization to go there from time to time.

Taking the place of the pilot on the bridge

The best view of the sea and of the containers is from the last floor

I am led in my cabin, where I will spend most of my time. I am surprised when I see this one. They indeed gave me the “owner cabin”, surely one of the best aboard! There are three rooms, an office, a bedroom and a bathroom. The furnitures are mainly made of wood. There are even hot water and electricity. I really appreciate the gift!

My cabin during the crossing

My life aboard is very simple. I stay in my cabin, except when the three daily meals are served. The breakfast at 8am, the lunch at 12pm and the diner at 6pm. As the crew is working, I tried to not bother them. This gave me the possibility to rest and to organize my journey.

Between New Caledonia and Australia, the crew organizes a barbecue

Stopover in New Caledonia
We stop for few hours in the port of Noumea in New Caledonia. I have the opportunity to go for a walk in the centre of Noumea, so I don't miss it.

As in Tahiti, I am surprised by the proportion of the buildings that remind me France. The architects must have been in the same schools. I found the city of Noumea very pretty and colourful. There is more vegetation than in Papeete. It is more green and alive.

The Noumea museum

As we arrive during a public holiday, there is no one in the streets. Almost every shop is closed, so it is difficult to meet the locals.

A park in the city centre

I am there for only few hours, which still allows me to have a glimpse of the city. It is time to go back on the boat, that I wouldn't like to miss!

In front of a marina in Noumea

Time to go back aboard

Arrival in Australia
Three days later, we reach the city of Brisbane in Australia. We have travelled 1750 nautical miles, so 3250 kilometres.

As for each arrival by sea, I am fascinated by the slow apparition of the coast, then the first buildings and then the cars that seem to go either left or right like ants.

I am also telling myself that I am arriving in a new country to discover and that another challenge has been done. It hasn't been easy but the price is there... Australia!

The arrival in Australia

Thank you very much to the SOFRANA Company to have given me the opportunity to keep going on the adventure by "container-ship hitchhiking"!

See you soon,

Jeremy



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