The Boomerang Route

I have recently gotten a couple of questions about the "Boomerang Route", so I here is a little information about this voyage.

The Boomerang Route leaves the West Coast of California to Auckland, New Zealand and on to Sidney and Melbourne Australia. On the return voyage there is a second call at the Port of Auckland.

The primary shipping companies servicing this route are ANDZL Line and Columbus Line. Both of these Lines call at Oakland (San Francisco) and Los Angles (Long Beach) CA. Ships arrive/depart these ports just about weekly. You can find their exact schedule at their respective home pages. These are not the only lines on this route.

I made this round trip in April of 1997, on the Direct Currawong (ANZDL). Several of the pictures you will see in these pages were taken on this ship. The typical freighter on this run is about 20,000-25,000 d.w.t. and carry from 1,000 to 1,600 containers. They carry a lot of "refers", that is refrigerated containers. The typical ship looks like this.  Here is another view.

Routes traversing the Atlantic or Pacific take a polar route, weather permitting. However, the Boomerang Route is direct. Most of the ships on this route travel at about 18.5 knots or less. At an average speed of 18 knots, the crossing from Los Angles to Auckland takes about 13.5 days, a distance of 5,683 nautical miles (6,456 miles, or 10,532 Km). The total distance, assuming stops in Auckland, Melbourne and Sidney, is 15,292 nautical miles (17,619 miles, or 28,340 Km). The round trip takes 46 days.

Two weeks at sea, with not a speck of land in sight, is probably the longest continuous voyage between two ports on the the high sea you can take. You will perhaps see one other container ship heading in the opposite direction. While you will pass a lot of small Pacific islands, they are far enough out of the sea lanes that you will never know they are there.

I made this voyage in April, 1997. This meant that the weather was great in California (it usually is except for a few days in Dec. and Jan.) and fall was just beginning down under. By traveling at this time you avoid the premium rates charged for "in season voyages" and can still expect good weather on both ends of the trip. Of course two or three days on each side of the equator are hot and humid year round. All of the ships are air conditioned.

Ports times are short (less than 24 hours), but long enough to visit the port cities. I especially liked Auckland. The port is within walking distance of the business district. Melbourne and Sidney require a short cab ride. An aerial view of Auckland shows the proximity of the berthing area to the city.

This voyage is just the thing for the traveler who wants to get away from the world. In fact, many writers do their best work freighter outages. Alex Haley wrote "Roots" while at sea. There is no TV, no news papers, no phones, no Internet, nothing! There is no radio unless you happen to bring your short wave set, though there usually is a short wave radio in the ships' lounge.

I rate this as a 26 book voyage; yes, that was how many books I read. I was lucky the German captain liked to read English novels. Most of the videos on board were in German.

So, if you want to log some sea time, this is the voyage for you, whether north bound from down under, or south bound from the U.S.


R. F. Ahern
Los Angeles, CA.