Sunday, 26 of March of 2023

2003 WC-Sydney-Nagasaki – Part 3

Wednesday, 12 February – Sydney, Australia.

Was up at five o’clock watched shore beacons and channel lights as I dressed, then emerged on deck just as QE2 was passing between the high cliffs of the famous Heads, on the north and the point on the south at a pretty good pace.  I stood aft on sun deck so I could go from side to side as we followed the channel to and past the line-up points and curved toward the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  We passed Fort Denison to port – built during the Crimean War – in case Russia were to invade!?  On we went past McQuairie Point to the Opera House, where the tugs assisted us by pushing and pulling us 90º for the back-in and sideways to the  quay.  Meanwhile, the sun rose over the shore from horizon clouds, revealing the beautiful skyline and glittering reflections off skyscrapers and neon signs. – over Manley as well as Sydney.

I almost regret I will be off the ship for the next four days, visiting Norma Hoad in Brisbane, but glad I’ll be returning for the original itinerary booked last Summer.

Breakfast with Virginia Dolan in Lido.  The bow camera is set on Harbor Bridge, a great view.  Taxi to Airport – Flew to Brisbane. Norma met me.

Wednesday – Saturday – Brisbane

Norma took me to her house in Clayfield.  Hot!  Coot-tha-Hill lookout over vast view of Brisbane.  Supper there.  Feb 13 – Caloundra – Point Wickham – Light mast, memorials – Tavern lunch – Mooloolaba – walk by the shore – view to Point Cartwright light and Pilot station.  Norfolk Pines, slash pine forests, Cook Island Pines, tall Condos – Glass House Mountains)very pointed volcanic necks.   Feb. 14.  Met Iris Towell at Sheraton Hotel downtown Brisbane for buffet lunch.  Yellow Fever injection at three o’clock – bus back.  An interesting development here is worth recording.  While at the Doctor’s office waiting for the injection to take effect, and while I was being observed, the Doctor mentioned that there was an enquiry as to how much serum they had on hand because they needed 400 doses in Sydney.  As I told her bout the requirement, she realized the reason why!  QE2 passengers needed those pronto!   Bruce, Norma’s son, took us to the seaside for fish and chips and a walk along the shoreline at dusk.

Saturday, February 15 – Brisbane

Spent the morning at Norma’s home in Clayfield.  She delivered me to the ship by two o’clock.  There were many security people and I was required to take the shuttle from the road to the dock.  This dock is the most remote spot of the seaport, and all around on the horizon toward the city.  To the north and east are N. Stradbroke and Moreton Islands and further north and west are Caloundra Head and Cartwright Point where I was yesterday.  Alas we will pass Fraser Island and myriad other landmarks during the night!  Ship turned 180˚ push and pull by tugs.

Tried the Austin Powers movie (ugh).  Dinner in Lido alone, watching coastal lights – our zigzag course, then settling down.  Show with Lees, who had a harrowing elevator experience in Sydney.  Horlicks with them, then a look at the distant blinking light on shore.  Moon clear and nearly full.  Calm, gentle, warm breeze.

Sunday, 16 February

When I emerged for breakfast, I couldn’t see any land to port and soon found we were well east of the Barrier Reef, and we won’t see any of it all day.  I was comforted a bit as I shared my wrath with Eric and Margaret.  Eric suggested I check the television for latitude and longitude to find our position.  We were East of MacKay far outside and heading northwest.  I decided to go to Boat Deck anyway, which I did (under boat 14) for about 5 hours.  I read the Cook Journals, gazed out westward to beautiful blue white-capped water, talked with Madeline and eventually ate club sandwiches and apple and grape juice gleaned from the Board Room.  At noon the report was :  Lat. 20º51′ S,  Long. 153º08′ E, 30 miles east of the Barrier Reef, 398 nautical miles from Brisbane at 25.6 knots.  Compass direction:  302º true – 504 to go.  Temp. 30º C: 86º F – Wind SSE at Force 6 (over the deck).  Around 2 o’clock  I left the Boat Deck and encountered Valerie on her way to her cabin then sat with Irvin and an Australian couple, chatting till nearly three o’clock.  Back at the cabin I found my tour tomorrow is canceled, so I rebooked another.  Oh yes, I wrote more post cards and a thank you note to Norma!  Tea with May and Doris.  Invitation to World Cruise Society Dinner in Singapore, March 14. RSVP.

Dinner at Mauritania – Ann Hampton Calloway concert – Horlicks with Lees.  Met Violet Crafton finally! 

Monday, 17 February – Yorkey’s Knob

We were nearly anchored when I awoke, and the bow picture showed headlands to the north.  At Lido breakfast I could see knobby islands and a promontory toward shore.  A rainbow appeared between tropical showers as four of the tenders bounced around waiting for the passenger process.  I was one of the early ones and joined the bouncing and wet trip to shore.  I think the hilly peninsula is the “Yorkey’s Knob” right next to the Yacht Club.

Did the Port Douglas tour, including a wildlife park trip in sun and rain, and we went about 50 K along the Cook Highway northward.  Back at the landing, I switched to the Shuttle Bus for a trip into Cairns.  Found more soft kangaroo leather pouches, which I promptly bought for gifts.  The boat ride back to QE2 was rocky and pitchy, and the helmsman zigzagged to the wave troughs to avoid a very wet head-on pounce!

Tea in Queens Room with a Japanese lady.  Watched boats being raised.  Too hot out.  Cabin time.  Movie 6:30 “Bedazzled.” Lido dinner with Faith and Wendell.  Show:  A British comedian.  Violet joined Eric,  Margaret and myself for Horlicks.  Bed at 10.

Tuesday, 18 February

What I anticipated would be an exciting day turned out to be a complete washout, because I thought we would be doing a close pass through the Torres Strait.  I went to Boat Deck under boat 4 and staked out my spot for strait sights.  Upon seeing no landmarks, I surmised we were still way east of the Barrier Reef.  At noon the position of Latitude 90º 35′ S and Longitude 144º 33′ East put us far north and near Bligh entrance and Bramble Cay light.  Compass reading was 322º, speed 26 knots.  Temp. 29º C  84º F.  Have traveled 495 nautical miles from Cairns at 27.19 knots: water 30º C; 86º F. 1040 nautical miles to go to Darwin.  Wind NWN Force 4, 16 knots.  We were in the Coral Sea, wind over deck 44 knots and moderate sea.

I continued on deck, and obtained my sandwiches and grape juice from the Board Room.  An Aussie spent some time next to me in conversation about our position and speculating between brief showers, not very wetting.  I observed distance islands for a long while until by three o’clock we had strings of islands to port with white sands and aqua waters.  The Pilot boat came splashing toward us from our bow area and the Pilot came aboard by 3:25 on port side.  Dr. Peter Crimes gave brief remarks from the bridge in short fits and starts, then put us off by four o’clock stating the narrowest part of Torres Strait will be after dark.  At this point I gave up after six hours on deck – waiting for “nothing.”

I joined Doris and May for tea then retreat to the cabin.  I washed and set my hair too late for it to dry before dinner or the movie, so I puttered in the cabin watching for possible sights on the bow camera.  I did notice a blinking beacon or two but didn’t know if one was truly Booby Island or not.  Anyway, I checked the chart on Quarter Deck which showed us passing through Endeavour Strait after all. 

Lido dinner with Tim, then I sat as usual with the Lees and Doris for the magic and comic show.  A Brit.  Horlicks again with Violet joining us.  Then the movie “One Hour Photo” followed by Gala Buffet and dessert with Violet and the two Canadian half-sisters, Marilyn and Elaine.  Bed after midnight.

Security observations.   Some sort of boat, QE2 tender, or pontoon rescue boat patrol is active while we are at anchor or at a dock.  One day off Yorkey’s knob, I saw an orange Zodiac with two divers.  I.D. card and bar scanned on return to the ship and required at entrance to terminals.  Brisbane agents everywhere and no one unauthorized allowed near the ship.  From Darwin on- watches will be posted fore and aft for pirates.  Day and night, there have been many more on Security duty in white uniforms.

Wednesday, 19 February

Carpenteria Gulf – Another cloudy, very humid day.  I vowed to stay inside.  I was supposed to have breakfast with Tim in the Mauritania, but ended up eating on my own at the window table forward of the Lees.  On my way up there I detoured to see the stormy shipwreck oil painting on 2 Deck where the B Stairway ends.  Spent the morning with the Lees finishing up the Cinderella doll.  Many ladies stopped by to see her.

The crew had a complete fire and lifeboat drill, with the different crews doing their designated jobs.  Phoenix, priority one et. al was  called out.  All we saw were the lifeboat station people in Queens Room.

At eleven fifteen I delivered the bag of extra stuffing and yarn to Elaine’s office on my way to attend the tribute to Andrew Lloyd Weber – done by that great duo, Joseph Garry and David Frazier.  I then joined Wendell and Faith for lunch in the Mauritania, where we were joined by a couple from Melbourne.  Afterward I spent most of the afternoon basically hunting for Phyllis, and on the way sat with Virginia Dolan in Lido for a while.  I read a little in Yacht Club, but loud music drove me out.  Tried in Grand Lounge, then joined May and Doris for tea. May encountered a cockroach last night!

Conferred with Betty about upgrading my QE2 booking for April 25-May 1 to a Caronia double  cabin with Phyllis.  Prospect is good C5 (with porthole) $3,309 – 10% -5% = $2,829 per person.       To the  cabin near 5.  Movie “The Good Girl” – Dinner in Lido with Virginia. 

Thursday, 20 February –  Darwin

Clocks were set back 30 minutes last night.

QE2 slowly eased forward and sideways onto the outer dock still facing toward the land.  Cloudy and rainy.  Sat with Violet and eventually Phyllis at our hasty breakfast, and I exchanged addresses with Violet Crafton.

At 8:30 we were all allowed off the ship and Quarantine inspectors did spot checks of our bags.  One of them only looked at mine, but inspected Virginia’s.  She and I sat together on the Darwin Discovery tour, including the town military area, wildlife in the wild and Botanical Gardens where I saw a preserved Weslyan church which had survived the 1978 Cyclone, which devastated Darwin. 

Lunch with the Lees.  Rice pudding, made specially for them by Andrea!  Puttered in my  cabin till 3:30 when I went to get an ice cream cone from the Pavilion.  As I walked through Queens Room a lady indicated she would like a cone as well, so I fetched one for her.  I then went to the Board Room and found Valerie having tea.  We talked a long time and were joined by Rod from Birmingham.  We discussed the canals there and big tides of the Severn etc.

I returned to my cabin to emerge at departure time.  On the way to Mauretania for dinner I paused to watch the tugs pull us away from the dock and turn us around, tug pulling on stern and a tug on bow pushing clockwise.  There are two new men at our table, a new host (Alex) and Beryl from Canberra.  Pearl went to late sitting.

Sat with the Lees for the show.  Horlicks, then I chatted with Boston Valerie, Marion Morgan, an English Valerie (Woods I think) and Sheila till we adjourned at 10:30.  Clocks back 30 minutes again.  Cabin via H stairway to 4 Deck.  5 is for crew there now.

Friday, 21 February – Banda Sea

Today has been mostly stormy and rainy.  The noonday information was as follows: Lat. 07º 03′ S – Long. 128º 54′ E.  12 1/2 miles from an island Dadoar (?)  Heading 338º  23 knots – 370 nautical miles from Darwin at speed 21.14 knots – 1,403 nautical miles to go:

Temp. 28º C. – 82º F.  Wind NWW Foce 6.  24 knots – 50 knots over deck – moderate seas.

After Mauretania breakfast with an Australian woman and soon joined by Tim at table 257 near the Lees, (good discussion with him about Cook, gays, is it psychological etc.?)  I met Phyllis for our potential QE2 booking.  Betty informed us  the promised 10% was no longer on – so we decided to let our idea go for now.

Attended the tour lecture.  Oh yes, on my way forward and up to breakfast, I paused at the top of Stairway B to study the “lee shore” shipwreck oil painting.  Had a nice chat with Jefferson Canono, who indicated he may leave in the future – It seems he and wife may go to QM2 and live in England.

Lunch in the Lido with Lees.  John Duffy came by to chat because those two used to be shipmates in the 50’s.  Wandered around through the stores and went to Cruise Office trying to deliver the finished doll to Elaine, but had to wait till the movie “Road to Perdition” was over.  When I did find Elaine she was delighted.  Back to the cabin during tea.

Dinner at 7:30 in Lido.  Sat with Rod from Brum.  Show – singer with powerful voice and great Judy Garland impersonator.  Horlicks with Lees, then bed.   Clocks back an hour tonight.

Some of the Seas we will be in this section from Darwin to Kota Kinabulu, are Banda Sea, Molucca Sea, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, Flores Sea, Selat Makaser.  Who knows where the begin and where they blend into another sea!

Saturday, 22 February – Equator crossing again.

We crossed the Equator again today.  As I started to do my deck walk, I came across Joan and John across from me on Port, so I joined them for breakfast in Mauretania.  Betty joined us too.

Read the Bisset passages about the frozen compass to Eric and Margaret and Eric was practically on the edge of his seat with interest.  At ten I attended the lecture on Kota Kinabulu.  Back to the Queens Room for more chatting as we admired the glitzy decorations for the ball tonight.  “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Virginia came along briefly on her way to the POSH lecture while I went to the cabin to “regroup.”

Lunch with Virginia in the Mauretania then Diane came along to tell me the America’s Cup races will be broadcast on channel 15 at 8 am.  The 4th race was postponed because of fluky winds.    Attended a reading in Yacht Club.  Bought a black small purse.

Noon reading: Lat. 01º N – Long. 125º 38′ E/ 528 since yesterday.  Speed 21.12 knots.  100 to go.  21.17 knots – 30º C – 86º F: Wind: NbW, Force 3, 12K.  Slight sea and low swell – passing between several islands east of Borneo.   Spent a long time in my cabin watching films on the television.  P & O ships – Des Cox – “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

Tim joined me in the Lido, dressed in his dress blues.  He is enjoying Captain Cook’s Journals.  He thinks I am interesting because I can talk on many subjects!   The Concordia show was most interesting, dealing with the life and music of Ivor Novello.  Gillian Humphreys sang along with her troops.  She is ever so close to past it.

Stayed a short time at the Ball, photographed the decorations and left.  Margaret and later Maria told me about the seat saving altercation before the show.  She has filled me in on a suicide on the Christmas Cruise.  2 in fact.  One man left a note with instructions – namely he was terminal and wanted to go quickly. 

A package awaited me on my bed.  A beautiful wooden music box, jewelry case, which I have immediately started to fill with my nighttime chocolates, which is a World Cruise special gift.

Sunday, 23 February

I finally found channel 15 as it broadcast the America’s Cup race.  However, since there was a race delay, they re-ran race two and race one, which I was thrilled actually to see.  I went to Lido to pick up a quick two muffins, banana and milk and returned to my cabin.  Was there to hear the daily watertight door test.  Race 4 postponed.

When I emerged to stay, I joined the Lees briefly while Maria and Frank were tap dancing, and Peter Garland was with us too.  Spent some time on Boat Deck somewhat exposed to the sun, and soon went to the shady side till noon and the whistle signal and navigational information.  Read Bisset’s Commodore till time for Mauretania lunch, which was with Andrew and Joan from Australia.  John Zimmerman joined us for a lively discussion on memories.  Afterward Phyllis and I wrestled with Phil Hays’ computer as I typed her dictated journal.  I do mean “wrestled.”   I had to track  Phil down for help.  While hunting for him I walked all over the ship, eating ice cream!  By the way the temperature was quite comfortable.

Lat. 05º 43′ N.  Long. 119º 34′ E.  28 nautical miles northeast of Borneo.  Traveled since yesterday = 497 nautical miles at 20.71 knots.  Temp. 28º C,  82º F.   Wind:  NE Force 3, 12 Knots – 30 knots over the deck.  1,397 since Darwin @21K.  376 nautical miles to go – slight seas.

Had to wash and set my hair (I look scruffy) so read and puttered in my cabin till time to go to the Lido.  Tim joined me again for his hasty meal before dancing.  I went to the show a little earlier, so didn’t have to feel guilty about the Lees saving and “defending” my seat next to them!  (Doug Cameron) from LA.  He gave the QE2 band a very challenging set of charts, which they performed magnificently, eliciting a standing ovation at the end as the band members came forward for a very lively jam session!   Went directly back to my cabin.  No Horlicks since the Lees went right down too.

Monday, 25 February,  Kota Kinabulu – Borneo

The watertight doors closed just before six o’clock.  The television screen showed our approach to the East as a colorful sunrise glowed over the mountain silhouette of Borneo.

After breakfast with an Australian couple, I walked up to Boat Deck for a look across from the ship to the island opposite the city of Kota Kinabulu, which has a large village on stilts and a bright white mosque with two minarets.  Back toward the city shore, I could see the oval tall skyscraper, the City Mosque, also with two minarets and further along, the high rise buildings and the ships of the harbour.

Took a tender (#13) from five Deck G stairway to shore, where we were greeted by a small percussion group dressed in native costume, and presented with a beaded lei.  My tour took us past the city streets and shopping “malls” and to a brief five-minute stop to photograph the 13 domed State Mosque and children on recess from school there.  The uniform was green long dress and white head dress.  On we went to the train through villages and jungle – hotel culture show and back to the ship by one o’clock.

Lunch with Gemma, Howard and Bill (hosts) then a long conversation with Vernon on the side of Queens Room while enjoying tea.  Shortly before six o’clock the watertight door closed for our departure while I watched “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

Dinner in Mauretania with Margaret, Dorothy and Vernon and later the two American gents. Who turned out to be Bill Greenwood and Richard Clay.  Previously I had spent cabin time debating on where I’d go!  The Lees didn’t show up for the show, so I wandered a bit to the shops and on deck, where I found the air still warm and damp, but forward wind was effective to cool to a degree.  However, I didn’t want to linger there, so returned to the usual lounge area and sat with Doris and later, Betty from Scotland for the humorist from Ireland, Roy Walker.  Not impressed.  However, after that I attended the classical concert in the Theatre!  Yuri Kalnits (violin) and Mihou Sanou (piano) playing Brahms and Massenet.  I wanted to see the movie but left at 10:40.  By the way, they use a pretty hefty red jack to raise two piano legs to place in square solid non-slip boxes.  Great idea.  The one guy responsible for the Theatre can do it all on his own.   Watched “Mrs. Calicoto’s Cabbage War” with Pauline Collins, Michael Horden etc.  late into the night on TV.

Tuesday, 25 February

With more comfortable temperatures and less humidity I have spent several hours on deck under midship boats on both sides – avoiding the sun as it climbed over “the yardarm!”  At eleven o’clock I went to the Grand Lounge to hear the Concordia group talks on individuals’ theatre experiences.  Made contact with Tim to receive the Cook Journal return, then we met again on deck to await the noonday whistle and position report.

Lat. 100 22′ N,  Long. 118º 02’E.  47 nautical miles west of Palowan Island.  Wind NW   Copurse 025º  Distance traveled 421 nautical miles at 18.34 knots to go: 380 nautical miles – will reach port near six o’clock am.

Joined Wendell and Faith briefly at Crystal Bar to discuss our frustration about getting America’s Cup coverage.  A waiter joined in.  Had lunch with Phyllis by the window at 211, then we parted – me for the movie, which I left for more deck time till tea with May and Doris.

Someone told me Cunard still retains 42% of the shares and Carnival has 68%!!??   Attended Peter Garland’s Indian Curry Charity dinner in the Pavilion, and sat with Peter Phillips, the Civil War novelist and the Doctor, Martin.  Peter used to be a surgeon. The food was quite hot in spots and the dessert was a very sweet pudding.  I excused myself to attend the John Davidson show which was very active, frenetic, nostalgic, and I enjoyed it.  When the show was over, many of us went to Queen’s Room to witness the big drawings for the big stuffed rabbits, bears, booze etc.  It dragged on, so I left for the cabin at 10:30.  Earlier I had written a note with $60 in it for Welie, then learned he is going on leave tomorrow, so it was fortuitous I had planned to do this now.  He is Filipino for sure.

Wednesday, 26 February – Manila, Philippines

We arrived at Pier 15 at seven o’clock.  The ship was turned around and backed into the pier on port side.

I took the tour to Corregidor via a large catamaran hull high-speed boat, across the 26 miles of Subic Bay.  Saw Bataan to the right and a couple other islands to the left which figured in WWII.  Saw lots of ruins, greens, and memorials and had lunch at the MacArthur Hotel, followed by a stop at the significant Malinta Tunnel.  Back on board by four o’clock.  6:30 “Midsummer Night’s Dream” movie.  Busy Lido – show, Petrina Johnson.

Thursday, 27 February –  South China Sea

Bunkering went so slowly that we weren’t able to leave till one o’clock this morning, while I was sleeping.  Today dawned sunny and more comfortably cool, so after breakfast on my own near the Lees, I found a good deck chair under boat 4 or 6 (forgot) and read for a couple of hours. I then felt compelled to head for Eric and Margaret to whom I had promised to read the “Usworth”, “Ascania” and “Jean Jado” rescue in 1934.  Both were enthralled listeners.  By 11:30 I was ready to return to Boat Deck for more air and water and the navigation info at noon.  S. China Sea.  Lat. 17º 45′ N – Long. 119º 59′ E – 21 nautical miles west of Luzon.  273 nautical miles from Manila at 25.75K, 1,054 nautical miles to go to Nagasaki – need speed to make up time.  29ª C – 84º F.  Small fishing boats far out.  Saw whales on starboard.

Attended a great talk on Japan by Sir Roger Carrick, then joined Virginia, Iris, Tim, Stanley, Phyllis and Joyce for a lively lunch in Mauretania.  Heard about the canoe trip Tim and Phyllis made in Borneo.  I then went to the shops with Virginia and while there told an attendant about the wrong figures on the QE2 mugs.  They have 930 feet length but it is 963 feet in length – and later when pointing out the inaccuracy to the guys at the One Deck shop, they called the manager to tell him.  All surprise to everyone!  The speed statistic is wrong too!  Anyway, no one had pointed this out in all this time from Fort Lauderdale when they re-opened the shops.  Prior to this I had talked a long time with Virginia in the Board Room.  Cashed $40 worth for 3000 Yen.  Peter Garland caught me with my front curler still in – on 3 Deck D stairway on the way up.  Took it out with humor.  Lido dinner alone.  Tim didn’t show up till I was done.  “I have made a committment.”  Let him go.  As I stepped into the show last minute. Clocks ahead one hour.

Friday, 28 February – East China Sea

Cloudy but for the most part, comfortable.  Breakfast alone at a window near the Lees.  I returned to the cabin for my windbreaker then joined Eric and Margaret to show them my chosen library books, “Eight Bells & Top Masts” by Christopher Lee (no relation) and “Freighter World Cruising” by Philip P. O’Neill.  I also bought another QE2 book with space for a brief journal.

At ten I attended a great slide show on Japan, then went to the Yachting conference.  A Brit told us of his professional racing career.  He knows Coutts and Conner and told of his harrowing roll over experience in the Bay of Biscay, and Trans-Atlantic boat deliveries.  Diane also told in more detail her experience solo sailing – Freedom Sloop rigged for solo handling.     Lunch with the Lees.  Deck time under a starboard aft boat.  Movie “The Minority Report” sci-fi!

Dinner in Mauretania, then Captain’s Cocktail party where I mingled with Gemma, Virginia, Rosemary, and Phil,  Peter Philips (finally got his name right) Betty, and Valerie.  Today was YoYo’s birthday, so we all sang to her.  She has been here eleven years.  Doug Cameron violin – jazz show.  Another stander! 

The ship is rolling and pitching a little bit.

Concert in the Theatre – piano and accordion by Miho Sanou and Phuong Nguyen from the Concordia group.

Diane Spaziani told of a mistake the Pilot made coming out of Brisbane.  Apparently the ship was going the wrong side of a channel marker and went in reverse quickly to make the sharp turn and right the wrong.  A man from Wooloobaloo confirmed that channel is tricky.

A new term:  “Tender.”  When a ship is low on fuel or water, lacking the ballast value, it tends to heel one way or the other and become less stable.