Saturday, 22 of June of 2024

LA – Hong Kong 1997 – Part 3

LA – Hong Kong, 1997 – Part 3.

Thursday, 13 February – Brisbane.

We traveled a long way up the estuary of the Brisbane River.  Our dock is at Fisherman’s Island.  We are docked starboard side after hefty pushes sideways to turn us around in shallow water.  Two tugs were posted aft, one by my porthole so I could see the mud QE2 was churning up with her stern thrusters, and the busy wakes of the tugs.  We were tied up by seven- thirty.

I took breakfast on my own then joined Vera awhile.  I met Jean Burns as we were going off for our tour number 70. When we were enjoying a moment outside the bus and admiring a lovely vista near the Gold Coast, Jean introduced me to her new-found friend Hilda who is from Austria (I think). We are way out of town so I didn’t get to see anything of the city proper.  Instead we went south to the Gold Coast.

Upon our return I went right to my cabin from B stairway entrance Four Deck, and relaxed watching “Babe.”  At seven- thirty I went to Heli deck for the sail away barbeque dinner.  The white area below the forward wall had boomerangs and a platypus stuck up for decoration.  Also palm fronds were tied to lampposts.  John and Vivian Morris joined me by the railing for dinner, but John wanted to eat in the Caronia, so when he left, Viv and I watched the ship pull away from the dock and proceed down river, with the tug holding back, poised to help if needed.  Three whistles and off we went!

I saw “It Takes Two” in the Theatre, then went to the sing-along with the Drovers, then the Fledermaus recital – very good.  Horlicks and cheese, buffet and a talk with Mrs. Levy.

Friday, 14 February – At Sea.

I had a fairly late breakfast, but found Jean B. as she was finishing up with the Rabbi lady, Marylyn.  When finished I headed for Boat Deck where I happily read and finished “Tramps” as I watched the occasional island crop up.

At eleven o’clock I attended Captain Pilot John Foley’s informative lecture on the Great Barrier Reef and piloting ships through it.  The brown stuff we see on the water is Coral Scum.  He prepared us for what is to come, starting in the afternoon. 

After lunch with Eric and Margaret and later Jean, and after greeting Catherine Lim, I returned to Boat Deck, starboard to join Agnes on our vigil under boat 15.  The sun eventually drove me to Portside mid-ships to keep cool in shade and breeze.  Islands continued to parade by.  I met Tana Bawden, the pianist from Classical Quintessence,  and we spent several hours railing-side enjoying the scenery.

Toward evening the ship slowed down as we entered the area of the Whitsunday Islands and the relatively narrower passage between them.  I watched a while from Observation deck too.  After dusk gave way to night, I reluctantly headed to the cabin for my bath and Valentine Day dinner.  Andrew Eardley had purchased a large coral trout and had it prepared for all of us at the table.  He and Judith, plus Nigel were there, making a rather full and festive occasion.  The fish was very artistically presented with body slit and spread out, mouth and head complete in a red, yellow and green vegetable sauce (peas, red pepper, corn kernels). Andrew also treated people to a special wine and after dinner drinks.  Again I was urged to drink – no thanks.  Decorations on the tables were of red and white balloons and Valentines draping over many of the tables, not all!

I went to the Valentine Ball to watch.  The decorations of red -glowing hearts were hung around the Grand Lounge.  Jean found me and sat with me, then we went to hear the singer and comedian upstairs.  We had Horlicks and a snack in the Lido before heading to the cabin.  It was a great day outside, warm but comfortable in the wind.

Saturday, 15 February – Great Barrier Reef.

Is an exciting day for me, on deck watching every detail of our passage through the fabulous Great Barrier Reef.

At nine o’clock I had breakfast with Catherine Lim, Fred and Terry, a very lively meal with discussions about men and women differences.  I went to hear Catherine’s talk in the Theatre and also sat with Fred. 

The reef excursion people left for the day on a large catamaran in beautiful warm sunshine.  QE2 headed slowly northward between the continuing shallow reefs to starboard and the mainland to port.  We passed Cape Tribulation and at one- fifteen as QE2 turned slightly to starboard we neared the reef – Endeavour Reef, where Captain Cook ran aground in 1770.  After a late lunch I spent (with Jean) the afternoon again on deck reading and enjoying the tropical waters of the Reef.  When the following wind showed up abeam, then forward, I realized we had turned 180˚ gradually to accommodate the oncoming catamaran boats.  A storm was brewing and came as the boats were unloading, so I took my photo of the scene and headed to Queens Room for tea.  I met up with Jean again and we sat with Terry and eventually another Aussie.  For more details of the day I include my notes taken during this significant day. Cooktown was opposite at this time.

[DAY NOTES: based on my observances from minute to minute.  At this point we were opposite Cape Tribulation with reefs all around us appearing very light green in the shallow water.  In the distance to starboard it looks like a sailboat marks the northern tip of Endeavour reef but I guess it must be a light beacon since it doesn’t move!  Finally we have a wind abeam; hitherto it was following near the speed we were going.  White caps follow, but the breeze up here is gentle.  There are breakers on the east side of the reef.  At one-fifteen we turned toward another reef, which I now guess must be the one in question.  This turn was slight, maybe 5˚.  There is water breaking on the east side of it.  A little more wind came from our beam.  This reef stretches further north under a little more water.  Also this reef shows variations of color in the water per formations underneath. They say the Great Barrier Reef is the only definite geographic feature and only living thing seen from space.  We turned back about 5˚ or so after passing this special reef.

We turned more a little later to port to avoid the solid reef now surfaced.  We can see exposed areas now.  Cook named this area Cape Tribulation in retrospect because of their troubles caused by the reef.

We turned to starboard and the wind is strong from forward.  The islands are now aft in  the distance and we are moving slowly forward and, judging by the sun’s position we must be circling?  The Barrier Reef tour boats are speeding toward us hoping to outrun the oncoming rain storm.]

The water was very colorful changing from dark blue to aqua to green and yellow, all according to the depth over the reefs and coral colors.  At five -thirty we revved up to cruising speed on our northward progress, coastline distant and islands to Port.

I spent three hours in my cabin whilst my hair dried.  Dinner at eight was held without both doctors, and we all let out our frustrations about Nigel’s ego.  I thought I was alone, but was relieved when it all came out.  I attended the Quintessence concert in the Theatre at ten o’clock.  Doug Wunch, Tana Bowden, Nanette Peraino and cellist and violist.  I later tried the movie but gave up, had a Horlicks in the Lido and trotted off to bed.

Sunday, 16 February – At Sea – Gulf of Carpentaria, Booby Island etc.

We are still skirting the Australian Continent with islands to port.  I haven’t seen Starboard yet!

I had a late breakfast with Hilda and later Jean, then went straight to Boat Deck around ten o’clock and encountered rain.  Catherine Lim told her Chinese stories in the Theatre then I returned to Boat Deck as the final drops tapered off and I chose a chair under boat 12 facing the coastline.  We passed channel markers, light towers, outer reefs and land to port.  I was reading and looked up as we turned to Port into the Gulf of Carpentaria. At one o’clock the Pilot came onto the Tannoy system with news of our approach to Torres Strait, a narrow and shallow turning point for us, then Cape York, Prince of Wales Point, Wednesday Island, Cooks Island, the finally Booby Island with a lighthouse and community.  Here we went nearly due West by three- forty.  Now in Aratura Sea south of New Guinea and Java, and across the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

[OBSERVATION NOTES:  We are passing a point of land with a lighthouse on the closest island.  On starboard side is a wide open are and the bow view shows land to port infinitely, islands of low hills and solid land beyond.  That is why I think we are atop the latitudes of the Continent of Australia.  With clouds all over, I cant see the sun so am vague in my sense of directions without a compass.  I love seeing the land framed between the parallel bars of Boat Deck railings. Nice panoramas in wonderful warmth of the sun.  A small speedboat has come to meet us and pace us.  It also circled and then went away. 

Captain Foley says a ship sank in this area, and the islands on starboard are where the survivors were able to scramble.  Cape York is the northern tip of Australia, and the Adolfus channel leads to the Prince of Wales channel.  A full tanker passed us heading in the opposite direction.   Captain Bligh named the next island, Wednesday Island which is to our port. This was when he and his remaining loyal crew passed through here on their perilous way from the Bounty mutiny area near Tahiti, all the way to Timor in their lifeboat.  Thursday Island I next.  Captain Foley tells us this may be a wide strait but the channel is rather shallow and very narrow, and the water is a fantastic tropical aqua!  Hammed Rock was named by Flinders and it looks like a mushroom at low tide.  Strong currents of 5 to 8 knots are running against us as we head west.   Flinders also named Cook Island where there are gun emplacements to this day.

The most exciting landmark of this transit is – for me at least – the next island, named Booby Island.   This is really a rather large rock big enough to have a lighthouse,  4 barracks, several buildings, palm trees and believe it or not, a Post Office.  In the old days, passing ships would stop to leave of notes and pick up messages left by other ships.  This was the second post office for shipping after Sydney!  Our wake has stirred up aqua trails as far as we can see.  Then we actually went around Booby Island before resuming our western course through the Gulf of Carpenteria.]  This has been by far the highlight of the cruise for me. 

Somewhere along the way I tore myself away from deck for lunch on my own at the Pavilion.  Then, when I left the deck after four o’clock I found John and Vivian in the Lido for tea.  I bought a great little mini-Atlas bound in fake leather and imprinted with QE2 for sixteen dollars.

At one time while standing at bow observation deck for the Strait transit, Colin Williams from my table in 1990 talked with me.  He reminded me of Walter Moffat the New Zealand Scot sweet on me!  A small Aussie joined our conversation and lingered after Col left.

I went to the cabin after tea then saw Peter’s lecture on television because I couldn’t tear myself away from the deck earlier.  I was sitting with Jannie Haynes who shared her binoculars with me.

Dinner was the usual gathering followed by a brief movie trial, but I didn’t stay.  I did, however, go to the Quintescence performance with Ryan dancers in the Grand Lounge and was very glad to see the ballet and opera selections.  Immediately after the show I dashed to Port Boat Deck just in time to see the Canberra approach (11:50 pm.) and pass us.  For me it was a bit emotional when QE2 tooted 3 times long blasts and Canberra answered for the last time, because it is being withdrawn after this final World Cruise.!  All her lights were on the two stern stacks so unique to her, and they shone prominently while passengers’ flashes were going off as we passed at combined speeds of at least 40 knots.  In a short time span we were receding to small spots of light.  Many people were at the rails but most missed the whole experience.  I wandered around the Lido to see the many ice sculptures and gala dessert displays, but I didn’t partake!  Back to the cabin I went after midnight.   Flat seas all day.  Almost no motion whatsoever.

Monday, 17 February.

Jean and I had a late breakfast and a lady from Zimbabwe joined us.  At ten o’clock Catherine Lim gave her humorous talk “Adam and Even,” which was a series of jokes on the subject.  Her daughter, Jean, was with her.  I then wandered through the shops and had a juice in the Sam Club till Peter’s lecture on the Eastern religions and slides of the countries.

At noon I joined Agnes, Naomi, Jannie and a lovely British lady, Ann for an hour on Boat Deck under boat 12.  The sun shone, wind was from our forward motion and shade made it very pleasant.  A lady passing by us took photos of us with our three cameras.

We parted when the three others went to the Sam Club for sandwiches and I eventually had lunch in the Lido with Margaret and Kay.  Marilyn joined us too.

I have been given an additional $250 credit from the Sam Cunard Club so I checked my account to see if it is true.  Sure enough, it shows up.  With money burning a hole in my pocket Jean and I went to check the shops.  She had bought a Pulsar watch and I liked it.

I went to hear Captain Foley’s lecture and video showing about the Torres Strait and islands.  Very Melanisian.  Booby Island is still my favorite.  A solitary man tends the unmanned lighthouse, because the buildings are listed historical buildings.  Australia’s second post office developed from messages, a log and so on left there for passing ships.  Most special, in some places, the channel floor only was six feet below QE2!!

I saw the Hugh Grant and Robin Williams film “Nine Months” which was very funny.  Afterward I met up with Jean who helped me buy the Pulsar watch like hers. 

I was in my cabin for a while, then went to the Doctors’ Cocktail Party on 2 Deck E Stairway.  I stuck with my tablemates.  Chatted a bit with Doug in the Golden Lion Pub, then went to dinner which offered Chateaubriand.  I had to sit next to Mrs. Levy!  The ship continues as smoothly as can be.  I checked the deck before Horlicks in the Lido and headed off to bed.  Clocks back 30 minutes tonight in preparation for Darwin tomorrow.

 Tuesday, 18 February – Darwin, Australia.

I awoke as we were easing into the harbor and rounding the corner of the dock to tie up.  There had been some question as to our ability to dock, so it was good news to me that we made it.  As I gazed out my porthole I saw a small skiff motor to the dock astern to pick up the stern line.  We were pulled in parallel to the dock and I soon saw my porthole would be below the surface and looking on or into the piling maze underneath.  It was dark!  I later learned there is a very large tide rise and fall and at five- thirty p.m. as I write, my porthole is well above the dock surface and looks onto a wharf café area.

I skipped breakfast and met my tour 77 at the Theatre, where we had to file out according to numbers.  We walked off at 2 Deck mid-ships.  Same on return.  However, in the afternoon the gangway shifted to A stairway 2 Deck. 

The air was so humid and hot out that I decided to stay aboard the rest of our stay here.  I wandered along Boat Deck to take photos then retreated inside.  Letters from Bob and John arrived and I mailed four postcards.

I found Eric dozing at Queens Room promenade, so I joined him.  Margaret came back and we spent the afternoon together, the Drum Show and tea included.  At departure time I placed myself beneath the starboard aft crane to observe from waterside.  Mataranka, the Darwin tug was just receiving the stern line, and it pulled the ship out and away from the dock backwards to the channel marker, where QE2 pivoted to port and headed out the channel, passing the city on starboard.  I counted around 22 boats waiting to accompany us on our way.  A seaplane took off toward us just as we left the dock.  From where I stood I could see the 9 little Korean fishing boats at red buoy moorings awaiting release from quarantine.  Illegal or something like that.  I moved to various places on upper decks for photos of the city.  The small boats followed.  The pilot boat took the pilot off and roared away.  I stood with two Darwinians who are excited to be on for a week to Manila.  We were all given long stem orchids when we filed off for our tours by the way.

I did the usual evening pursuits, dinner, concert and movie.  Classical Quintessence did their next concert of Beethoven and Haydn piano trios and Puccini arias and duets.  Doug pushed too hard and cracked once, otherwise they were very good as usual.  Woody Allen film, “Oh Aphrodite” okay.  Clocks back thirty minutes.

Wednesday, 19 February – Indian Ocean, Sea of Timor last night.

I had breakfast with Hilda and wandered a bit, coming across Eric and Margaret.  I joined them a while.  Jean Burns joined us later, soon to part when we split to attend the lecture on ‘”A Commoner at Buckingham Palace.”  I thought she over stepped the line from humour to ridicule and as I feared Margaret and Eric were offended.  The Bali lecture was next, followed by Catherine Lim’s last lecture.  All in all I spent three hours in the Theatre, a great place to be when outside was impossibly humid!

I ducked into the Sam Cunard Club and found Agnes and Naomi starting on their sandwich lunch.  I joined them. a lovely change which I may do again.  Agnes and I had a frozen yogurt then headed for the shops.  Alas, the motion of the ship, a gentle roll and rainy squalls, caused Agnes to retreat to her cabin.  I browsed some more then worked my way to Queens Room for a short read, then back to Boat Deck for a very blowy time on starboard under number 17.  Not long after, a very wet storm cloud was in our path and I ran frantically to the shops for shelter, watched the pouring fury, then gave up to change clothes.  Cabin time with hair in curlers.

At five fifteen I saw the “Pelican Brief.”  Beryl and Les Laing had their anniversary dinner and cake celebrating 31 years.  The cake and Baked Alaska parade ensued as well.  The dining room was decorated with red, white, and blue balloon clusters and country flags. Clocks back another hour.

 Thursday, 20 February – Bali.

We are already at anchor.  The landing platform is lowered right out my porthole.  Bob Burns called me.   I took the tender at nine o’clock to Pedang Bay.  “Crystal Symphony” and  “Albatross” are anchored here also.  There is a slight swell, which QE2 doesn’t feel but the launches bounced a bit.   Bali was shrouded in haze but you could make out outlines of the mountains including the volcano. 

When on the tour at a lookout we could see all three ships in the bay and they looked like toys.  Also we caught glimpses of the ships along the way and QE2 being so long, looks the most graceful too!  I was able to get the first tender waiting when ready to return “home.”  It was terribly hot inside the boat, which made the homecoming all the more welcome!  As I mounted the landing platform I made the comment I’m an old salt, and the officer in charge said “not old, just a young salt.”  A fabulous dance troop and orchestra of gamelins, gave a performance in the Grand Lounge at four o’clock.  It lasted 45 minutes, was loud but humorous and told a story.

I retreated to the cabin for a rest and bath, and the ship got under way by seven- thirty.  Dinner was with Andrew and Judith, who were here for the last time.  I walked the deck with the Morrises, then saw the film “Primal Fear.”  Bed by midnight.

Friday, 21 February, – Java Sea west of Borneo.

A strong wind prevails outside.  I went with Jean for breakfast then we moseyed to the shops, or should I say we parted at the shops.  I bought a Kookaburra and debated on buying a camera.  I interrupted that to go to the Theatre balcony for John Foley’s last lecture on Cook, Flinders, Bligh and Jeffreys, which was fascinating as he has been all along with the lectures.  Eric and Margaret were to the right as was Jean so I joined them and showed off Kooka!

Peter’s lecture on Singapore followed, after which Jean and I returned to the shops.  I did buy a nice Minolta Riva Zoom 70w camera.  That made me eligible for that twenty- dollar QE2 bag which I bought also.  The giant credit is all used up now!

We have white caps and moderate seas, but QE2 ploughs ahead quite flatly.  I joined Jean for lunch at one- thirty, then headed for Boat Deck and managed an hour or so sitting on Starboard with Janie Haynes, being blown a lot and spattered occasionally with salt mist.  The waves weren’t very high but wispy, and the seas were aqua in color even in overcast glare.  At four o’clock after a brief cabin stop I went to the Lido to join Margaret and Eric for tea.  Since I was a little ahead I took more ship interior photos and caught June for a library bookstore photo.

At tea by starboard window in the Lido, Eric and Margaret hailed me and we had our final time together.  They will convey my greetings to Harold Perkins.  By the way, the origin of the saying “Son of a gun,” comes from the early practice of letting women accompany ship voyagers and when babies were born, the women lay down by the guns of a naval vessel. 

I returned to my cabin to prepare for the film and dinner.  “That Thing You Do,” is a 1960s film.  Tonight was the Laings’ last meal with us.  Nigel was in good form.  I followed that with the last Quintessence concert.  Marvin Hamlisch played piano as well.

People have commented on the ship’s motion, but it is only very slight.  The waves have been a hodge-podge and now significant ground swells.  Windy though!  I nearly missed Eric and Margaret in the Theater, but we saw each other in time to hug goodbye as they went to finish their packing.  I forgot to give them Harold’s message so will try in the morning.

Saturday, 22 February – Singapore.

I was up by seven o’clock, and we were still going at a moderate rate but I could see land and ships.  When I emerged from the cabin, near eight o’clock, I went to Mauretania restaurant to locate Eric and Margaret to no avail.  I walked around Boat Deck on reconnaissance and while up there the ship’s whistle tooted lightly six times, presumably to warn a ship or boat in the way.  I ate breakfast in the Caronia with my tablemates.  John Douglass and David Thompson go off today so I hugged John goodbye.

I did find Eric and Margaret eventually at their breakfast, so I sat a while as they finished up.  Hugs again goodbye.  I sat a little with Jay and friends from Perth, Siddon and Steve.  I also had a brief talk with Tana Bowden before I left on the shuttle with Jean for the Meridian Hotel on Orchard Road.  As we pulled away we could see the Merlion on a high point overlooking the harbor.  We went in a U shape route and could look across the free dock to the ship unhampered in view.  A fuel barge was refueling her.  By the way, we left by portside 5 Deck A stairway, and upon return, we entered by 4 Deck B stairway.  After an ice cream at the Lido, Jean and I parted for cabin time. Bob has sent me a lovely vase of orchids and three letters were awaiting me from Bob, John S. and Lloyd.  Wow!  I don’t ever recall such a bounty of letters from boyfriends!

We were over an hour late leaving the harbor because of the delay in finishing the bunkering.  I was on Lido Deck and fantail to watch the tug pull the stern away and down the channel backwards.  The tug held the starboard stern line taught achieving just the proper angle to guide the stern in the middle, gradually working to port to hold up in the middle around the curve of the docks on either side.  QE2 was then pivoted around and proceeded on her way out the channel and harbor.  A bit of trivia:  The South China Sea is the largest SEA in the world!

Sunday, 23 February – South China Sea.

After breakfast I tried the outside and found it raining substantially, so I decided to join Jean at the “Let Me Show You America” lecture.   I then headed for the Sam Cunard Club to write letters to John and Bob.  Chocolate chip cookies and punch accompanied my brief chats with Terry and an older man.  I left my new watch to have the three links removed, then tried reading my book under the eaves aft of the Lido.  Warm and relatively dry there.  I changed to warmer clothes and met Jean for lunch.  Longley’s lecture on Manila ensued and I then headed for Boat Deck boat 12 for an hour or more reading and feeling the strong warmish wind and watching the grey sea and mists.  QE2 has a little noticeable motion.

Not feeling so well, I took some sandwiches from tea at Queens Room and headed to the cabin and a warm bath.  The usual Sunday church services came and went without me!

Monday, 24 February.

I haven’t been feeling well so I’ve taken it easy.  I had a late nibble with Jean and Marilyn, then went to the Richard C. Hottelet lecture on China.   Since the sun is shining and the temperature is mild, I finished reading my book under boat 4.  We have passed two freighters.

After lunch I returned to Boat Deck for a very windy time, and I was actually buffeted as I sat behind a raft pile.  I ducked inside to see the movie ‘Phenomenon”.  While sitting briefly with Agnes and Naomi they said the show was “lower than abysmal!”

I went a bit early to dinner, but again I was alone till John M. came on his own and a new couple from Louisville, Doris and Dale.  Dr. Newstead, the relief Doctor from near Bath joined our table.  He is the one I talked with two years ago at a Captain’s dinner.  I left the table before dessert and enjoyed a stroll and a long sit under boat 9, looking toward the moon and the ship crossing its path.  Perfectly clear and mild, it was.

I passed through the Grand Lounge while the show was going on but didn’t want to stay.  Saw “Pink Panther.”

 Tuesday, 25 February – Manila, Philippines.

We were just finishing the docking process when I looked out my porthole.  Tug Titina was gently churning and holding her bow just outside.  I took a survey of Boat Deck to see the city landscape.  At the bow observation deck I watched the Filipinos earnestly looking forward – lots of them – at the very bow.  Some waved when they recognized their families.  This is their once a year visit and families are allowed to come aboard.  It is a touching sight to see their happiness and although the employees are away ten months and home two months they are getting a better deal than they would at home!

I took the morning tour of Manila, including the Chinese Cemetery of mausoleums, two Catholic churches, Fort Santiago, and Intramuras with its golf course mote.

I returned to the ship for lunch with Marilyn, Kay and eventually Jean, who entertained us with her land experience and table mates.  I ventured out again to see the stalls across from the dock entrance.  Mrs. Levy joined me for a while then ambled back.  I heard my name, turned around and found a couple from my table last year, Helen and Peter.  I latched on to them, then joined them for tea when we returned to the ship.

The Filipinos are having a great time., and lots of kids are gleefully running around.  I was corralled on G Stairway to pose between two women with children in their arms! 

We left the dock a little after seven o’clock.  There were three tugs poised a long time on portside.  When we backed away under our own steam, the tugs stood ready to nudge for the turn around, one forward of mid-ships and one to stern, which was pulling.  This took a long time, but we eventually went forward and I observed from the bow observation deck.  I noted a green light on starboard jetty and red on port jetty.  What I expect of American ports.  Anyway, once outside the jetties I couldn’t spot any further channel markers and neither could the bridge – soon two tugs passed us, going way ahead.  Then I noticed light signals dead ahead for which we headed directly.  When on right bearing, the lights ceased.  We passed out of Manila Bay leaving Corregidor to Starboard.  Not wanting to dress for dinner, I went to “Apollo 13” at eight fifteen instead.  By now we should be heading northward through the Luzon Sea, then South China Sea.  Late night buffet.  Sat with Mrs. Levy a while.

 Wednesday, 26 February.

I attended two lectures, then at noon I tried Boat Deck, but the wind was howling on both sides, so I settled for a great spot on Fantail to read, but I soon just rested – aware of John and Vivien’s arrival.  After lunch at of a hamburger with Jean I retreated to my cabin for the afternoon till dinner.  Again I was first but by eight o’clock the others arrived for Vivien’s Birthday party.  I heard a brief bit of the piano show, then went back to my cabin.  Lumpy waves, but the ship is not very affected except the occasional gentle roll.  Not feeling well.

Thursday, 27 February – South China Sea.

As we go northeast, the temperature has lowered to more comfortable degrees, but with the forward wind motion, it is only just tolerable on Boat Deck.  I tried a couple of times to sit up there but gave up fairly soon.  Okinawa was sixty miles away at noon.  However, we never saw it. I am still not on top of the situation, so there is little to write.   Longley lecture on Yokohama and Kobe, lunch with Jean then movie “The Associate” with Whoopie Goldberg.

Paul Danby has returned!  He is waiting in Mauritania till an opening on cruise staff occurs.  We had nice dinner conversations for once.  Nigel okay.  Cruise Staff Pantomime far from quiet!  Quite fun, though!  Men took women’s parts.

Friday, 28 February – Still at sea.

It is sunny mild and not so windy today!  I attended the Hottelet lecture, followed by a very “far out” astronomy lecture on cosmic rays, by Sir Arnold Wolfendall.  Jean and I headed for the shops afterward and I came away with stuff for family, including an abacus for Stephen.

After lunch I ran into Agnes on fantail, who reports that the “Financial Times” says the owners of Cunard “desperately want to sell this ship, but there are no takers.”  Worst report yet.  Anyway, after a chat I took several panorama photos of outside scenes, then settled on Starboard in the sun! for a lovely time reading in my favorite place.  At movie time I saw “The Chamber” with Gene Hackman.

Earlier I spent some time poking around my souvenirs and packing a few of them in my new QE2 bag.  My late afternoons have systematically become cabin time, and if the movies available aren’t interesting I enjoy watching CNN International on channel 12 – just like being home, for which I am ready.

I was again first to my table.  On the way in, the ship lurched a little and I caught my balance with a flourish as a “manager: came and escorted me in.  I said “at last we have some motion,” and we joke a bit.  Alas the seas haven’t developed however.  Goose or geese were served as ordered but I stuck to chicken.  I asked John Newstead if he has seen Lady Hamilton on the Kennet and Avon canal, but he replied “no.”

I walked aft on Boat Deck, observing the gentle sea sounds and the crystal clear night with twinkling stars.  Last week was full moon so it is really late now.  I stayed up watching Kareoke nonsense at Golden Lion Pub, then a bit of the dancing, then the dance and song show, can can etc. – before leaving for the cabin near midnight.  A large cube of Terry’s chocolates awaited me from the Sam Cunard Club.

 Saturday, 1 March – Yokohama, Japan.

Very early this morning I looked out my porthole and saw gulls soaring and swooping around.  Next time it was dawn and a strong wind was dusting the water with broadside whitecaps.  I also could see we had large tugs in attendance as we carefully passed by a jetty with a thin conical-roofed lighthouse, closely followed by the tall white steel cable suspension bridge.  Two little tugs pulling barges much larger and higher than they, appeared and headed toward us secure in the fact we would be gone by the time they reached our spot.  Soon the third large, squared-off tug, moved to my area to act as pusher and pivot, making a long, continuous rubber scraping sound as they all turned and pushed us gently to the dock.  Stern tug AZAMT is pulling on a cable.  All around us are docks and modern skyscrapers, which are mostly hotels.

I took tour number 5 to Tokyo and saw a silk museum, the Yokohma Tower, a Doll Museum, and a large sailboat on display which looks like the type used in the America’s Cup races!  The Harbor Bridge built in 1989 was built so ships like the QE2 could go under it. Another impressive bridge is the Subasa Wing Bridge built in the suspension technique.  We also saw portions of the Imperial Palace from across the mot, and learned this was built for the Shogun in the 17th century. 

Evening return:  We returned over the Bay Bridge, which, from its elevated position afforded a magnificent view over toward QE2 all lit up.  Behind that were several solid modern high-rise buildings, one which looks like a melon edge, and a very large Ferris Wheel that lights up each second around it till six, then turns all off to start again.  Each second position has a passenger gondola.

Before leaving on my tour this morning I attended the official ceremonies of welcome from the Mayor of Yokohama.  Six Geisha girls, Captain Burton-Hall received a large diorama, and gave QE2 presents to the city, mayor etc.  Two selected passengers (Marion Morgan) and Commodore, Lainer, Brian Price received happy coats.  Next a band of drummers performed but that’s when I had to leave.  We were cleared shortly after.

A tug has been pushing on portside mid-ships constantly, since before dinner.  The explanation is that the wind is trying to blow us away from the pier and the gangways are affected.  Can’t use 2 Deck midi-ships.  I went to dinner at seven- thirty and was nearly done by the time others arrived, but I stayed till all were done.  I said goodbye to Doris and Dale, and froze on Boat Deck enjoying the city lights. 

We were given a demonstration of Karate by a little boy five years old.  Kimono dances were very colorful, graceful, comic and with masks, depicting dramas.  The tug pushing stopped by eleven o’clock.

Sunday, 2 March – Yokohama, Japan.

I took the Kamakura tour, which included the Great Buddha and temple. As well as other Shogun, and we were back at the ship by noon.  It was obvious the black- headed crowds were gathering in droves along the long covered walkways and observation deck for our departure.  I went immediately to Boat Deck from B stairway gangway on 4 Deck to take my photos of Yokohama in daylight.  A large construction dredge barge had come to the opposite side of our dock, complete with Godzilla mascot of great size, so this somewhat interfered with my view!  I stopped at the S. C. club in time to have a cup of tea with Agnes; then lunch in the Lido with her.  She complained bitterly about Mrs. Levy on the home visit yesterday, so I told her I knew it from Mrs. Levy’s side and we had a laugh!

I returned to Boat Deck to watch the gathered crowd, hear the colorful band with four marimbas until departure time.  I met with Jay who has booked a continuation all the way to Southampton, then Jannie and Donna, with whom I stayed till we finished photographing our passage under the Bay Bridge.  The departure was routine with a parallel back up away from the pier then turn to port for exit through the narrow jetty opening.  Temperature is cold and blustery, so I was glad to go in to the movie a little after two- thirty.  “Long Kiss Goodnight.”  Bought more films.

The ship lurched to port more than usual while Mrs. Levy and I were eating alone.  Nigel came at eight- thirty or so, so I remained till all had finished near ten o’clock.  Mrs. Levy left earlier.  After a brief attempt at the trivia game in the Pub with the Morrises and Audrey I returned to my cabin.

Monday, 3 March – Kobe, Japan.

We were tied up at the Pier by eight o’clock as scheduled.  We had come parallel to the pier and were gently pushed sideways till the large gap was closed.   I went on my bullet train and bus trip to Kyoto to see the three main sights.  Back home by six o’clock  Dinner was around eight o’clock and Mrs. Levy left soon after the Morrisses arrived.

We were entertained by a troop from Kobe, consisting of singing, Kimono dances and drummers; put on by the Travel Bureau of Kobe.  I walked Boat Deck to see the lights, which I don’t think are as good as Yokohama.  Trains and cars roar by on elevated highways and tracks.  We are supposed to leave here at two in the morning but I’ll not be awake!  Actually I did awake after two o’clock to see the harbor going by my porthole.  I looked out a short while then returned to sleep.

Tuesday, 4 March – At Sea.

This was a beautiful, brisk, sunny day with fresh winds stirring up white caps.  I had breakfast with Jean who had tales to tell of our Japanese.  She stayed overnight in Kobe.

I tried reading on Boat Deck where I found a sheltered area.  However, the crisp temperature and headwind cooled me down, and eventually I had to leave, so I went to the Theatre for Peter Longley’s lecture on China. – I dozed!

I read again on Boat Deck but before sitting down I had to heavily rub off dirty salt accumulations.  I lunched in my restaurant because the Japanese hoards were in the Lido.  I had four custards, then found Jean in the Steiner beauty parlor.  I took photos of 3 Deck and the Pavilion, then spent most of the afternoon in my cabin.  The seas are still moderate and there is little motion.  [Hong Kong exacts HK 100 for plane departure, so I cashed $80 for spending. 

I sat in on the final song of the entertainment; nothing to lure me for the second show.  I tried the movie “Space Jam” but left after an hour.  The gala buffet was very nice with ice sculptures, a wide Greek arch, cornucopia etc.  I was in bed by midnight.

Wednesday, 5 March – At Sea.

The day promises to be clear and bright for my last full day at sea.  After breakfast with Jean I headed for Boat Deck to bask in the sun.  I found Jannie so I joined her.  We looked over the South China Sea and could see Chinese fishing boats plus the occasional freighter paralleling our route at a distance.  At eleven, I went to Peter Longley’s Hong Kong lecture, and along the way, met Agnes who returned the Lim book.  Jean returned the Rendell book so I have all now.

I went back to Boat Deck for more sun and reading on portside.  It is still a bit chilly without a shirt.  Lunch for me was at one thirty.  The Japanese are all over the Lido and for the most part keep to themselves.  All announcements are translated now.

We are traveling through the Taiwan Straits, between China and Taiwan.  I can’t see any land though, but a lot of fishing boats.  The Strait is placid!

I went back to Boat Deck portside for an hour or so, but it became too cool so I retreated to the aft chairs by Sports Deck.  Some people are skeet shooting.  I latched on to Peter and Archer plus their friends Jackie and Tony who were ready for tea, so we all went to the Lido on starboard windows for sandwiches and scones.  I left them at five o’clock for cabin time. And the movie “Michael Collins.”  Dinner was happily without Nigel!

I went back to my cabin and set my clock back one hour for my last time.  Lots of ships are passing in the night.  There were lots of fishing boats all day too.

 Thursday, 6 March – South China Sea – Hong Kong.

I awoke early – around seven o’clock and went first to the Computer Room to compose my email letter to Chris, but ended up inside the Radio Room, located on Boat Deck next to the access on portside to the open deck. I wrote the letter and the radio officer did the dispatching.  He wasn’t sure what he was doing, it is all so new to him.  Anyway, I emerged to Boat Deck to finish a mild misty morning.  I sat a while on Portside watching the occasional fishing sampans and a freighter passing on its way north.  We seem to be going a bit slower and the forward breeze is slow. 

I joined Jean at nine o’clock after delivering my form to Key Club and questionnaire to the slot on D stairway.  Valerie joined us a while so I had her sign my book.  We then attended the Richard C. Hottelet lecture on Hong Kong.

I had more deck time in the sun after buying pens from the shop.  Shops close for three days at three o’clock.  I had a club sandwich in the Key Club with Jannie and later, Donna Hartstone who signed my book also.  Then I joined Jean in the Lido where we sat with a very elderly couple from Staffordshire.

From three o’clock on I wandered up to bow and sat on the bridge access steps to watch us slowly advance on the Hong Kong mountains, massed skyscrapers, small boats, tugs, freighters, islands, pastel skyscrapers, buoys and so on.  When we turned in toward the harbor both high sides loomed ahead and we continued with water-spouting tugs leading the way.  Numberless boats of all sizes crossed our way.  Finally we drew up to the pier.  “Oriana” was on the port side in all her splendor.  People watched us come in and we watched them!  At six, “Oriana” backed away, made horrible sounding toots and headed forward on out through the channel between Hong Kong and Kowloon.  We exchanged whistle salutes and when QE2 did her loud and deep toots, we people gathered aft on Boat Deck clapped and cheered; and when “Oriana” answered we jeered! 

An email from Cherie came.  Oh yes, Peter and Helen have different names.  Jackie and Tony let me join them on aft Quarter Deck.  Jackie is an avid photographer.  I was pleased to note the QE2 Brits prefer QE2.  Jay called to me to agree with my outspoken opinion of “Oraina’s” whistle!

I admired the skyline a bit more, then went to the cabin till dinner at eight- fifteen.  The Morrises were still there!  The evening skyline is very colorful.  I heard a virtuoso ethnic instrument concert by eight young people colorfully dressed.  Two 2- string bow- played instruments, two Kyoto types, a hammer dulcimer, a wooden flute, a banjo type guitar and a strange multi-sticked racket!   I headed for bed after more time spent on deck watching the harbor activities and admiring the city lights.

Friday, 7 March – Hong Kong.

We remain docked at Ocean Terminal.  I skipped breakfast and walked to One Deck Lido to see how the day would be – warm and foggy.  I took the junk tour along the harbor to Lantau Island and Po Lin Monastery.  Jannie and Agnes were with me as we looked at a fishing village on the way to the main features of the trip.  The ride on the little motorized junk was quite fun and we three lounged on benches and leaned on the railings to see the sights.

Once back at the ship I freshened up and met Agnes and Ann for our shopping excursion to Chinese Culture and Arts Centre.  Back at the cabin I rested and watched CNN and finished packing.

I said farewell to my tablemates at dinner.  Hugs for Gregory Dorothy and Maria, plus tips to them.  I spent a long time on Boat Deck aft just watching the harbor traffic including tugs towing dredge barges, Star ferries, small private boats, police boats, hydrofoils – you name it.  I scrutinized the skyline with the binoculars and eventually went around the deck photographing night scenes.  I met the Morrises for midnight snack with Mrs. Levy as well.  I was in bed by one o’clock with my two bags outside my door.  The German couple wished me safely home etc.

Saturday, 8 March – Goodbye Hong Kong and fly home.

I was up and dressed around six -thirty and went on deck to greet the new day.  Fog was burning off and the sun was out.  Traffic on the Pearl River accelerated with rush hour.  Tiny junks to old rusty cruisers and everything in between were darting here and there.  I met Jean for breakfast and Margaret Y.joined us, so I could hug her goodbye.  We sat by the windows.

I returned to Boat Deck for as much time as I could glean before I had to report to the Golden Lion Pub at ten -thirty.  I hugged Ben goodbye.  Ruth Joyce leaves now as well.

One of my bags was not readily available, but it was found finally in a room behind the general baggage areas.  It had lost its tag number 38.  We then were carted away from my dear Queen Elizabeth 2.   Till next time!

Hong Kong to Los Angeles in Business Class.  This was a rather horrendous flight because I was sitting with a man from the ship who had drunk too many cocktails and was playing off one stewardess against the other, obtaining much too much alcohol.  He upchucked on me and the rest is history.  Ugh!