We left Panama with B-3, for which I was happy, so I switched from B-1 to B-3, and I was right at home.
Crossing the Pacific was uneventful, and the last day, before we reached Wellington, we had a full power run with all six on the line and wide open.
We fan full power for two hours and found out we‘re putting out 11,010 shaft horsepower (we‘re only supposed to have 10,000), and pulled 17 knots against the seas. We just finished overhauling #5 in the yards, so I figure B-3 was carrying the load as usual. We call it ―the home of the Original Load Runner.‖ The ship was vibrating and shaking so bad under full power, I thought it would shake to pieces. It was like running a solid axle truck over a dirt road.
We pulled into Wellington the evening of the 13th, and liberty was granted to Section II, my Section.
Wellington from a distance looked like any other foreign country to me. Built on a series of hills, overlooking the harbor. From the dock it reminded me a lot of Valparaiso, Chile.
Wellington turned out to be a civilized town, which was nothing like the ones in South America we visited last year. And the people could actually speak English, or they called it English. The thing that amazed me most was the mini-skirts. Every girl or woman between the ages of 5 to 50 had one on. Every one of them.
The money exchange rate was high, about 83 cents New Zealand equals one American dollar. It‘s the first place I‘ve ever been where the American dollar wasn‘t worth more.
The following Saturday and Sunday we held open house, and on Saturday some clown called the ship and said there was a bomb on board. After a thorough search no bomb was found,
About Tuesday, the aircraft carrier USS America pulled in from Viet Nam, and poured 3,500 men ashore for liberty. We had about 100 ashore.
By the time the second week rolled around everyone was tired of Wellington, so we went across the harbor to Point Howard, topped off our fuel tanks, and got underway for Campbell Island, enroute to the Antarctic.
23 November to 25 November 1968 Wellington, New Zealand to Campbell Island, New Zealand
After we left Wellington, I came down with pneumonia so I got racked into Sickbay, and started getting penicillin every 12 hours.
Campbell Island is a New Zealand weather station in the Sub-Antarctic, about two days from New Zealand. The men were glad to see us because they hadn‘t had any mail or supplies for a long, long time. And only two days from New Zealand. It reminded me of Deception Island, the one we went to last year.
25 November to 30 November 1968 Campbell Island, New Zealand to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica