Saturday, March 7, 2020

Halong Bay Cruise, 2: Oh Hear Us When We Cry To Thee For Those In Peril Upon The Sea

Our second day at sea dawned clear and bright and smooth, full of happy portent. After the 37 course Vietnamese tourist breakfast, our ship was underway, headed for Bai Tu Long Bay, so our contract said; but probably not. About 10 AM, the engine went dead, we coasted to a stop, all was still, the anchor was dropped, and Dragon's Pearl 2 twisted in the wind, and tide; for the rest of the day. Our guide disappeared, apparently hiding in his cabin. Questioning the crew, we learned that the propeller had fallen off the shaft (or so we interpreted "propeller problem") and that we were dead in the water. Corporate headquarters had been alerted and was sending an engineer. The talk among passengers might have turned ugly, to matters of refund, breach of contract, pain and suffering, rescue, etc., but Vicki, ever the optimist, began singing the Gilligan's Island ballad, and other passengers, mostly the Americans, joined in. "A three-day tour!" Such a good-humored lot. There's a song for everything, Vicki claims. How about mutiny? I ask. Eventually, the guide reappeared, confirmed what we earlier had surmised, but announced, hey, no problem, our crew has found another island and beach, nearby, so we'll just take the lighter (tender?), kayak some more, and have the promised beach barbecue there. No problem. Also no propulsion. Also no Bai Tu Long Bay. Whatever.
Clear, bright, smooth, etc., as we make our way through the morning scenery

Commie listening post, cleverly disguised as a fisherman's temple

So here we are in the lighter, headed toward the island and beach where we'll have
the BBQ

But first, more kayaking fun; no pix because Vicki and I actually joined in the
fun, stepping carefully down from the lighter down into the 2-up kayak; we
made for the island in the middle there, actually passing through the arch, then
left, behind the three islands, and finally to the beach; zig-zagging all the way,
as we normally do in canoes and kayaks (to evade enemy torpedoes, I explain)

That arch; pretty exciting actually

Meanwhile back ashore, the crew is setting up and fixing the BBQ; that's the
chef, sporting his Viet Cong pith helmet (can be purchased at tourist trinket
shoppes throughout Vietnam) 

Many courses, mostly protein

Luncheon setting; we sat in the chairs farthest right, since I had determined
that the tide was coming in 

The beach; note that it is backed up by sheer cliffs; increasing concern about the
incoming tide; also increasing concern because Dragon's Pearl 2 is no longer
in view; perhaps the anchor is dragging...

Sea snails in a tidal pool; at least we won't starve...those of us who can evade
the incoming tide by scaling the cliffs

A low-tide cave under the cliff; shade was welcome

Us, there; this is the only picture of us on the cruise; still waiting to hear from the
guy from Virginia who took lots of pix of us kayaking
Dragon's Pearl was still there, twisting in the wind; the engineer had come and
gone and was to return after midnight with a SCUBA diver to undertake the
needed repairs

As far as we got that day

Back aboard, fellow passengers taking her easy

At length, the cruise company sent out a larger lighter (tender?) to tow us back to
the previous night's anchorage

"We can 't make it, sir. It's spoiling for a hurricane,
if you ask me." "I'm not asking you, Lieutenant Berg,"
said the Commander. "Rev her up to 8,500! We're
going through!"  The pounding of the cylinders
increased: ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. The crew
looked at each other and grinned. "The Old Man'll get
us through," they said to one another.

Back to reality

At least the scenery was nice

We made it to the anchorage

As before

After dinner, it was crew entertainment night

The highlight of which, for me, was the food carving by
the chef: the ship, doves, and a dragon, all done in fruit and
veggies...very impressive

He also played this 2-string traditional instrument

And the bartender entertained us with the bamboo flute; such a day!

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