Thursday, September 8, 2016

Deep Blue and Downunder

BeeLine is back after a 30 day hiatus. I figured that if August was a good time for most of Washington to escape to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket or Rehoboth Beach, I could take the time to take a Transpacific cruise from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia.

Sailing into the deep blue Pacific and leaving the Golden Gate behind

The cruise took Mrs. BeeLine and me to 4 of the Hawaiian Islands, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Auckland, and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand in addition to a couple days in San Francisco at the beginning of the cruise and four days in Sydney after the cruise concluded.

Sailing into Bora Bora at sunrise

All in all, we travelled some 9,000 miles on the deep blue waters of the Pacific and 10,000 miles in the air getting back from Sydney yesterday.

It was an interesting 30 days made more so by the fact that about 95% of the people on the cruise were Australians or New Zealanders. There were only a handful of Americans on board.

A few observations and perspectives from my trip.

  • There is a lot of water in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the Pacific Ocean comprises about 30% of the surface of the earth. Its maximum length is 9,000 miles and it reaches 11,000 miles at its maximum width. About 50% of the world's water is in the Pacific Ocean.

  • When you take a ship across the Pacific Ocean you really appreciate the accomplishments of explorers like Captain James Cook who made three long voyages into the Pacific from England. When I say long, I mean really long. Each voyage lasted a minimum of three years. Cook charted many of the islands of the South Pacific in addition to Australia's east coast and New Zealand. He was the first Westerner to discover the Hawaiian Islands which is also where he met his death towards the end of his third voyage.  While I was on the cruise I read a full account of Cook's life and voyages that made me appreciate him even more.

  • Cook's first voyage was in the HMS Endeavour.  This is a replica of that ship that sits in Darling Harbor in Sydney which I took a picture of. To provide some perspective, the Endeavour's entire length would not extend beyond the width of the ocean liner I was on.

  • The Aussies and Kiwis are very enjoyable to spend time with. They also are more active than the Americans I have cruised with before. They were much more likely to be playing table tennis, water polo, walking, dancing, playing trivia or pursuing other pursuits on sea days on the ship. They also have great knowledge about American tv, movies and music.  

  • I saw a lot of signs of American culture in both Auckland and Sydney. As an example, I saw hats or shirts on people with logos of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Orlando Magic, Auburn University, Harvard, and Florida State to name a few.

  • The Aussies and Kiwis have a keen interest in the United States and are especially interested in the upcoming Presidential election. I don't think I talked to anyone who was not interested in my views on Hillary and Trump and this was without knowing that I write a blog that delves into politics quite often. What do they think about this year's election? Like many in this country, they don't know what to think. However, they know it is important for us... and them. As someone said to me on the cruise, "What happens to America is very important for us from many perspectives. You are the economic leader and we ultimately rely on you for our security. We need you to do well in whatever you do."

  • The Aussies are particularly perplexed by the fact that only about 60% of eligible Americans typically vote in a Presidential election year. This is difficult for them to understand as in Australia voting in all federal elections is compulsory and failure to vote subjects the citizen to a possible court appearance and a $20 fine. 

  • Auckland, New Zealand has what seems to be the hottest residential real estate market in the world right now. In the best areas of Auckland, houses are not put up for sale, they are put up for auction. Houses are listed for viewing over a period of a couple weeks and then an auction day is set. From what I could see, prices for some houses are going for well over $1,000 sf. Everything sells. The seller's market seems to have resulted from restrictive building rules, an economic boom in Auckland and a surge in Chinese immigration to the city. This article from the Guardian provides some background. To put this in perspective for you, we were driven through the city by some local realtors we met on the ship and this 3 BR, 1 BA house that is approximately 1,350 sf sold for NZ $1.6 million in June.  That would be US $1.2 million at the current exchange rate. 
  • I found Sydney, Australia to be the nicest 'big city" I have ever visited anywhere. It has a beautiful harbor and magnificent views from so many vantage points. It is clean, lively and it is booming right now. There is a lot of construction going on and it seems to be well planned. However, real estate is also expensive in Sydney. Many liberals say they are going to leave the United States if Trump is elected. They can have Europe. Leave Australia and New Zealand for me if we have to endure Hillary. It would suit me just fine if I could afford the real estate prices.
The Sydney Opera House as it looked the last night I was in Sydney 

It was a great trip but it is always great to be back home.

I would think there should be a few things to write about over the next 60 days.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. I hate to admit it but you have reflected my views exactly.

    My only concern is you have painted a very attractive picture of Australia. You may recall what a great time we had on the cruise and that ratio of nationalities. Like to keep that ratio at home too.

    Only joking. You are all welcome to come visit. I am sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as Beeline.