“O WHAT A LIFE”

Friday, September 8
Ship no doubt off usual course. No charts now to follow movements. Like the Airmen, just flying blind, more especially at nighttime, not a light to be seen anywhere, even spark catcher on funnel. Canvas awnings up everywhere, swimming bath very popular. Spent most time on top deck to catch any breeze.

Sunday, September 10
Special boat drill for passengers and crew. All on muster decks with life-belts on at sound of ships’ alarm bells. Very interesting procedure this one. Activity is seen everywhere, every member of crew are to be seen carrying out their alarm duties. Stewards rushing everywhere, some carrying provisions – others bottles of milk to the lifeboats. Boats are swung clear of their davits – with painters out. Propellers are speeding around in the motor boats. Every boat is ready for the water in a few moments. Officers and boat crews take positions, Captain in command. Instructions to passengers are as follows:- On ringing of alarm sirens – ringing in all cabins, staterooms etc. passengers will – 1st – don some warm clothing, 2nd put on life jackets, 3rd proceed to muster decks as stated in cabins as quickly and quietly as possible, 4th obey any commands by responsible officers, 5th assist firstly women, children into the boats. The whole ships’ complement of 850 could be afloat within 20 minutes.

Monday, September 11
On deck to hear ships’ bell signalling the crossing of the Equator at 5.53am ships’ dead reckoning and incidentally my third crossing of the Equator. At 8pm last night the boat was 1724 miles from Honolulu and 1056 from Suva and for 24 hours, 412 miles were covered. Yesterday, Canton Island should have been sighted, but owing to the ship being off its usual course, this island was not seen. 11.30am the sister ship “Niagara” is now to be seen passing quite a distance away but her red funnels can be plainly seen. This is first boat seen at sea in 12 days. Deck games in full swing everywhere. Bridge and Euchre Tournaments at night. Picture tonight “Theodora Goes Wild” featuring Irene Dunn and Melvyn Douglas.

Thursday, September 14
After crossing the date line the first of Fijian Islands now to be sighted. Interesting to watch different islands during the day, mostly uninhabited. Dozens of islands are contained in the Fijian Group. 2.30pm the main island can now be sighted. Sailing along the coast, very fine views. Vegetation can be clearly seen. 4pm. Light breeze, buoys on sides of channel can now be seen. Customs boats are now following us. 4.45pm. Now entering channel, only narrow. Coral sides can be plainly seen, all colours of the rainbow, really grand. Travelling slow now, Immigration boat alongside, all passports to be checked prior to landing. Went ashore to see Suva at nighttime. Many shops open during ships’ stay in port. All passengers to be aboard by 12 midnight. Sailing time unknown. Under Admiralty orders – secret. Walked along waterfront, many native canoes. All main streets lined with shrubs, palms and flowers. Went through grounds of Pacific Hotel – very fine outside gardens – beautiful on waterfront. Native hut built on grounds for visitors to see, grass sides and thatched roof. Walked through Botanical Gardens, very beautiful at nighttime. The foliage of the different tropical shrubs just marvellous in the moonlight. Wandered back towards the wharf. The “Aorangi” with all her lights on looked real swell. Quite a sight after so many blackouts. Natives are selling their wares on roadside. Mostly Indians selling white silver jewellery. Fijians mostly basketwork and grass skirts. Omitted to state earlier that Prince Ramaboka was still in the limelight but on this occasion he was wearing a native skirt.

MEAL HOURS ABOARD THE S.S. NIAGARA
6.30am Tea, Biscuits, Fruit in Cabin
8.15am Breakfast
10.30am Tea or Coffee
1.00pm Luncheon
1.45pm Tea or Coffee in Lounge
3.30pm Afternoon Tea
6.15pm Supper
6.45pm Tea or Coffee in Lounge
10.00pm Late Supper

Saturday, September 16
Weather much cooler again now, all blankets back on beds. Stewards back into blue uniforms.

Monday, September 18
Have been sailing down the coast all night. Land very rugged of volcanic nature 7.30am entering Auckland Harbour, alongside wharf 8.15am, breakfast. Went ashore for sightseeing. Climbed to summit of Mt Eden. A very fine view of the country from same. “Mariposa” at next wharf.

Tuesday, September 19
Spent most of the day on streetcars to different places sightseeing. Outlying parts of Auckland much nicer than inner parts. Returned to ship 4pm, sailing time altered from 5pm to 8pm. At 6pm all passengers ordered onto the wharf, war precautions now. Ship searched. All passengers rejoin ship, all passports and shore tickets examined.

Wednesday, September 20
Very cool during night, all blankets are now required. Wonderful night’s sleep. Sea very calm, very different from the outward crossing. Hardly a movement in the ship, only the vibration. Ship seemed to almost empty at Auckland. Cabin to myself now. Bitterly cold again now – one week ago – just the reverse.

Friday, September 22
Southerly came up during night and the Tasman has again shown how it can play up, we – some of us – enjoyed a wonderful pitch until 11am, then across seas for the remainder of the day with a nice roll. Many chairs have been vacated today and many passengers enjoying a calm trip over, priding themselves on their sea worthiness, fell victims today. It has been mostly a day of sitting and lying about and all thoughts are on the entering of Sydney Heads tomorrow, seeing my wife and family, and bringing a close a very nice return trip.