Monday, 26 of February of 2024

QE2 WC-2005-Sydney – Hong Kong, Part 3

QE2 World Cruise – 2005 – Part 3

 Tuesday, 8 February – Sydney, Australia – S33˚ 51.1′ x E151˚ 12.6′

I was up and out by four o’clock to see us enter by the Heads.  It was dark for the whole process.  I stood on Observation Deck as we gradually entered the channel with harbor beacons pointing the way and channel markers blinking their red on port and green to starboard, just the opposite from home.

When I looked up, the crystal clear sky revealed the Southern Cross very obviously nearly overhead.  The pointer stars appeared clearly to the left and down from there.  We most quietly entered straight in toward the bright green beacon then turned to Port following the channel – then to starboard around a bright beacon on Starboard, then past Fort Denison on Portside and on straight to the Opera House where four tugs assisted us in turning stern first for the parking back and sideways to the terminal.  By this time I felt I could return to my bed for a nap, which I did. 

When the immigration announcements started regularly, I arose and went through the process in fifteen minutes.  I now have my Passport for the time I’ll be on the train and back to Melbourne.  When ready I went into town via the Circular Quay.  I first tried to call home, eventually reaching Chris.  Geoff was there too.  Only was able to leave a message for Wendy.

I walked to David Jones and wandered all over Centre Point, including the Reading Room and Lincraft.  I also found AA batteries,; had a sandwich at the Victorian shopping arcade, and returned to the ship.  The hot sun and the walk back convinced me to stay on board for the rest of the afternoon in my cabin cooling off and knitting.

The cities on the East Coast all show up on the GPS, as did the New Zealand coast cities.  The funnel top was again in process of cleaning by many men holding on to ropes.  From the look of those left there, there will be more work on it tomorrow.  This is the last night with my tablemates, because all three will disembark tomorrow.  I decided to stay there for the next segment and indicated to Omar that I wish to sit facing outward.   Before dinner I had gone to Boat Deck to watch a virtual ferry rat race unfolding beneath our ship.  Double-ended green ferries quietly vied for berths as various impertinent swift catamaran-hulled ferries zipped hither and yon during rush hour.  Even a very tall- masted catamaran glided by to its own berth with what looked like excursion people on board.  It goes to Darling Harbor.

The Opera House started to light up as opera- goers were arriving for dinner presumably.  Then along came a nice riverboat stern -wheeler plus the occasional yellow water taxi.  I also discovered a large white banner with red letters spelling “Port Security Zone.” draped from our starboard Boat Deck railing.

I said goodbye to my tablemates and returned to the deck before the long sit in Grand Lounge waiting for the “Other Three Tenors,” concert at nine forty-five.  Outstanding they were.  They had us standing and singing at the end so I let it forth.  Got compliments.  Violet gave me a book from her home here in Sydney, she also sat on deck a while before retiring.  I’ll be off tomorrow for my train journey across Australia.  The long vertical black disc on starboard bridge wing, no doubt is the anti-pirate device.

Wednesday, 9 February – Sydney and train trip.

I met Violet, Nellie and Jean for the farewell breakfast in the Lido.  We had our photos taken and then I hugged both Jean and Violet goodbye and headed up to Boat Deck.  The sky is generally cloudy and mercifully cooler at least for the morning.  The morning ferry rush hour is on, with each ferry leaving this end nearly empty and arriving full.  It is only eight fifteen at the moment.  Soon I will disembark and be away till Melbourne on Saturday.

When away from the ship, I wandered a bit in the Rocks area, dragging (not literally) my duffle with me.  I bought an aboriginal painted tote bag and was quietly told to leave because they were conducting an evacuation exercise.  I then sat a while on a bench in front of a commemorative plaque in the walkway about Dorothea MacKeller.  I also chatted briefly with the Lees who were sitting on a bench along the thoroughfare, and then I proceeded to the train for Central Station, where I waited for the Indian Pacific train departure at 2:55.  Met a nice couple named Mo and Claire.

Thursday through Sunday, February 9-12.  Sydney to Perth.  Flew from Perth back to Melbourne.

Sunday, 13 February – Melbourne

We were very late departing from Melbourne.  I had already decided to shower and retire so I didn’t miss anything anyway.

I had taken a taxi from the airport and rode for thirty minutes toward the ship, and when I left the taxi I had to walk a long way out the Pier to board QE2.  The weather was quite cool in contrast to the warmth I had left in Perth.

I saw Eric and Margaret in the Lido so they filled me in on the last three days.  Number one was that they were unable to go ashore at Phillip Island to see the penguins, because of too much swell.  The weather has been cloudy and very cool.  Now it is still cool and cloudy.

I had breakfast with Jenny with my back to the Lees at their table, so I am in the routine again!  Omar has saved my outward looking seat!

I spent a short while chatting with Eric while knitting.  He asked me details of the train trip and the cabin and carriage design.  I then attended Peter Crimes’ slide presentation on Adelaide, to see if he showed places I have been.  I recognized little.  I next checked the weather on deck and found it sunny and comfortable and mild under boat nine.  The noon fix is as follows:  S38˚47.5′ x  E 141˚ 57′    Rhumb line  direction 284˚.  Speed:  17.68 knots.

Clearing Bass Strait and off Cape Nelson into Gulf of St. Vincent; slight seas and low swell.   Earlier when I returned briefly to my cabin I had a telephone message to fill out another Australian immigration card, so I had to go to the Purser’s Office.

The overhead sunbeams are reflecting on the sea ripples and waves and I can hear the regular swishing of the waves as we go along.  Earlier, down further aft I heard deckhands  testing a tender engine – put put.

Valerie Noonan just came by all bundled up with two tops, hat and a towel for her deck chair.  She too shuns the sun, but is cold right now.  Guess What!  At breakfast I noticed we actually have all the table accoutrements back; sugar, cream, butter, salt and pepper, as well as condiments to use on our own.  Conditions must be improving!

At lunchtime I joined Vernon at his table along with an American couple.  I hailed a woman I thought was Marjorie Cullen, but I guess she wasn’t because she did not respond.  Oh well, I returned to Boat Deck for the rest of the afternoon, knitting and watching for the distant coastline, content to have my QM2 fleece on.  Attended the lecture on Afghanistan. 

By the way, I learned the Gahn train is named after the Afghan camels used during the construction of the railroad to Alice Springs!

My new tablemates are Arthur and  ? who are ballroom dancers with a group from Melbourne.  They are going only to Fremantle.  I attended the show – a violinist and singer – in the usual place.  Stargazing is on for tonight, but I guess I won’t go.   Clocks back one half hour.

 Monday, 14 February – Valentine’s Day – Adelaide

As I watch the television camera picture, I note that a tug has been literally leading QE2 up the channel toward the dock.  I think it is attached to the ship so perhaps it is needed to turn her at this slow speed.  Ah  Ha!  She is being turned 180˚ before docking Portside.

I watched the final docking while a trio of singers playing accordion, violin and bucket bass, singing shanties and Australian songs entertained us.  I dashed to the Lido to grab a muffin and juice before reporting to Yacht Club for the Ensemble tour.  I had time to chat with Pat Sagar just outside.  The tour consisted of two winery visits, waterside scenery plus a visit to the Hans Heyson home and art studio.  We toured the house in detail, hearing anecdotes about Nellie Melba and Pavlova. 

Back at the ship I had a brief nap then tried to see us leave.  However, there was a delay so I left all the boats waiting to see us off, and dressed for dinner and the movie “From Here to Eternity” in the Theatre.  Dinner in the Lido followed, and I was given a Valentine rose before my beef and vegetable meal plus strawberry shortbread dessert.

The sliver of a moon on the water lit up a lovely path as I walked Boat Deck, and I checked on the Valentine ball decorations in Queen’s Room, on my way to the cabin.  Clocks back a half hour.

 Tuesday, 15 February – Great Australian Bight.

I had breakfast with Jenny after which I tested the weather on Boat Deck.  Since it proved a bit cool, I got my jacket and settled under boat 11 for the whole morning right through to lunch time.  Noon info:  S35˚ 29.9′ x E130˚ 13.1′ :  Rhumbline 270˚.  Wind: south by west 19knots.  Temp: 66.2F.  Moderate seas and moderate swell.  130 nautical miles off Australian Bight.

Eric and Margaret as usual shared their table with me in the Lido.  While in line I told Rod of my train experience, and his reaction was of dismay I didn’t see more!  I went back to my chair for a couple more hours until time for the Bligh lecture by Paula Smith.  Somewhere along the way I chatted with Valerie Noonan, who told me she was on a freighter, which stopped at Pitcairn Island, when a Bligh descendant was on board prepared with the Bligh family Bible and good intentions to visit the Pitcairn descendants.  She also said he met with ill will and got nowhere!  We had also earlier had a chat in the Logo shop about children and discipline – à propos of an obnoxious child under the Harrod’s sale table.  Now back in the cabin I am watching “Charade” with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I dressed formally for the movie at six fifteen, “Intolerable Cruelty,” Then had my dinner at the Lido, where Lucy Williams and I ate together, and we stayed at least two hours until shortly before ten o’clock.  We shared her recent widowhood, my 23 years since divorce and her little budding friendship with an Irishman, Derek, who was at her table from New York to LA.  He will be on QM2 and Lucy wants to introduce him.  More power to her!

I returned to the cabin via Boat Deck in semi-moonlight (misty cloudy).  A lovely dual present for World Cruise 2005 awaited me on my bed.  A very nice metallic pen and a black leather embossed journal, thick enough to allow for an entire world cruise and then some.  I will save it for just the right time to make voluminous entries!  Thank you Cunard! Beautiful!  Clocks back one hour.

I forgot to mention attending Dr. Pula Smith’s lecture on Bligh.  She has a book on the subject, which will refute the wrong information about him and the mutiny on the Bounty.  Tomorrow we will have part two, dealing with the heroic open boat ordeal sailing west from the Tahitian islands through the Straits between Australia and Papua New Guinea all the way to Timor without losing a single crew member.  Since Bligh had served under Captain Cook at one time, he remembered the story of his charting the East Coast of Australia and heading west through the Gulf of Carpentaria, and this memory is what gave him the confidence to head that way in safety.    Dr. Smith is so enthusiastic about her researches into Mariners and explorers and her presentations are very dynamic.  The beautiful new pen, is engraved on the cap.  “QE2 World Cruise 2005.”

There has been a bit of motion today. At first, as I sat on Boat Deck the seas looked only low to moderate, but when I was aft for both lunch and dinner, the pitching was more noticeable.  During the night I was aware of pitching but only slightly.

Wednesday, 16 February – Great Australian Bight.

The ocean looks a bit choppy and skies are gray.  I can see the bow dipping forward but in the cabin the pitching is slight.  While waiting for eight o’clock I finished knitting the doll torso and started the first arm.  I joined Vernon, Roy and wife for breakfast.  A newly embarked Australian lady from Melbourne joined us and we had great conversation from QM2 to QE2 plus helping the less fortunate tales.

When I dubiously checked the weather outside, I decided that although it is somewhat rough and cloudy, it is pleasant for staying out and at present I am happily under boat eleven feeling a following breeze!  We are going west at 23 knots and even so the following wind has an impact, the seas must be moderate with lots of white horses, and we are pitching subtly.  Deck hands are in the process of white paint touch up as well as general swabbing of all the green scupper areas around the davit bases and along the gunwales.

Mention was made at breakfast of the unvarnished railings and other details of shabbiness, but as always, I emphasized she is old and we can’t expect today’s new ship glitz to be part of her.  Thank heavens.  [Regarding the unvarnished railings, it appears this was a matter of policy for a while.  However, in subsequent years, I noted that varnish is again de rigeur!]

I have decided to forego Dr. Terry Waite’s talk in favor of deck time all morning.  I LOVE THIS!  It has been a glorious morning with wonderful ocean sounds against the ship’s hull.  Paint smells dominate as the deck hands touch up all the vulnerable spots.

Noon readings:  S35˚ 29.9′  Wind:  NE 37 Knots – Temp: 71˚ F.  Direction due West 270˚  Rhumb line from Adelaide 1,007 nautical miles,  to Perth 395 nautical miles.  Rough Seas and heavy swells highly visible but QE2 marches on only slightly affected, because of the quarterly swell.  Ecstasy continues!

Not wanting to leave my wonderful spot under boat eleven, I got a sandwich from the Board Room and spent at least two more hours soaking in the brisk sea foam scene and reading my book until time to attend Dr. Smith’s second lecture on Bligh, Christian and Pitcairn Island.  Afterward, I had a short chat with her about the Caroline Alexander book “Bounty” and listening to conversation with people who have been to Pitcairn.  She has already published her book so I will hunt for it.

When I returned on deck the brisk wind was stiffer and the observation deck was closed off.  I stood a while reveling in the scene of churning waves and swell.  Dr. Smith highly compliments the Alexander book, which says a lot for her professional attitude, I think.

I joined Arthur and wife for their last dinner.  Sat with the Lees and a couple from Kentucky.  As usual I returned forward on Boat Deck and found it misty but not rainy.  Way forward I paused to lean over to see the water foam and more misty spray.  Clocks back one hour.

Thursday, 17 February – Fremantle.

I awoke very early by the new time – five o’clock.  Not being able to return to sleep I knitted and watched us approach the lights of Fremantle.  However, we are far enough out that when dawn came and the lights went out we couldn’t see the land.  Perhaps the shore was south of our destination.

In the morning as we docked another ship came in and docked behind us.  “Delphin:” with a dolphin logo.  My new tablemates said it is German and also they hadn’t seen two passenger ships here at the same time before.  S 32˚ 02.91′  E115˚ 44.7′

When we were turned around at docking time, I had my breakfast with Eric and Margaret at my table.  They left to tackle the laundry, and I had a look at the town from Boat Deck.  There is a zigzag ramp and bridge over railroad tracks to the harbor road, so I didn’t wait for the shuttle bus to begin and took that bridge route right into town.  I called Cherie and talked with Ben and Chris too.  Emily has an article published in an Australian horse magazine so I hunted for that to no avail.  I did, however wander to the hexagonal “Round House” which is the old gaol as well as the place where the one o’clock ball is dropped and the cannon fired.  I returned to the ship for lunch in the Caronia Restaurant.  Sat with Evelyn by a window over the harbor.  We saw dolphins feeding in the channel.

I tried to watch the movie “The Last Samurai” but left in favor of a long nap till dinner.  I have two men, recently embarked, from Fremantle at my table, Mike and Rex.  Both are landscapers and will be disembarking at Subic Bay.  Valerie didn’t show up.

With the show starting at nine forty-five there was a lot of waiting in the lounge, talking with the Lees and eventually Gisele.  I was tired but managed to hold on through the vigorous piano playing of Kyle Esplin from Scotland.  The evening air was cool with the quarter moon shining down.  I would have lingered but it was a bit too cool for that.

Friday, 18 February – Fremantle.

Right after breakfast with Jenny by the window, number one lifeboat was being lowered for some purpose.   I headed out toward town to post a card to Ann and proceed toward the Fremantle Market.  I had to try different routes, but eventually found the historical building.  I wandered all around the many stalls including the food markets, fish stalls, and eventually I bought some Aussie change purses and Aboriginal design bag holders.  ATT declined my charge, but the proprietor called the special number on the card for me, and we sorted them out at VISA headquarters.  A nice couple from QE2 stayed with me to help out if needed, so we exchanged photo ops with our cameras.  The woman’s name was Pam and his is Arthur.

Most of the afternoon saw me in the shade on Boat Deck facing the town reading my book.  Rosemary was next to me, but we didn’t know it till Valerie Noonan came by to chat.  Actually the very cool and stiff on shore wind made it just bordering on too cold, but I stayed.

On the quay I could hear a band playing familiar songs as departure time of four o’clock came around.  When we cast off, I just made it to Observation Deck to see us pulled away by a tug on starboard bow.  During the process, QE2’s whistle did three different groups of three blasts for all the hundreds of spectators along the shore and long jetty.  As we faced the oncoming wind outside the channel, it became down right chilly so I retreated to the cabin.

This has been a genuinely pleasing and friendly port, and I have deep down nostalgic feelings for the whole country as we leave with only Exmouth port left a day hence.

I went to see “Shark Tale” an animated movie and then joined the early queue for dinner at the Lido.  Alone by the aft windows I enjoyed my meal, and when thoroughly full I still had time to join the Lees for a very entertaining string quartet called “Grafiti Classics.”  The bass player stole the show with his clowning around with the other players as well as the audience!  Jigs, can can, polka steps, all while playing their instruments!!

When I emerged to do my usual forward walk on Boat Deck, the air had markedly warmed and the wind was no longer so strong nor nippy.  I lingered watching the moon path and listening to the watery foam stirred up by our motion.  I located the Southern Cross again, something that always thrills me!

I awoke during the night to see the moon near the horizon casting its light just a bit to port of our bow, and the atmosphere appeared misty – probably humid.

Saturday, 19 February – Indian Ocean

Breakfast with Vernon and the nice Australian lady (fluffy hair) and again we three enjoyed conversation from car fuels to solar car races across Australia.  I went on deck to test the air and again it was so comfortably balmy that I sat on Port side all morning except for two trips down to get stuff – during the very thorough crew fire and lifeboat drill.

Pat Sagar came by to chat reporting there was a Fremantle newspaper article about three Australians who somehow managed to elude security and board the ship.  They were caught rifling a cabin.  She didn’t know details but humorously surmised they might have come aboard with dirigedoos as performers, who knows how?  Anyway, at noon I did my usual fix which corroborated the ship report:  S26˚ 06.9′ x E 112˚ 38.49′:  Thumb line 346˚; speed 17.1 knot. 86˚ F – wind south southeast at 19 knots.  Moderate seas and low swell.

I joined the Lees in the very busy and noisy Lido.  I told them the gossip, which they hadn’t heard.  When we left I got an ice cream sundae and sat again at a table on starboard.  A lovely black lady from Maryland joined me and a couple from Riverside CA followed suit.  We had an animated conversation about QE2 and QM2 versus cruise ships.  I held forth!  We split up and I returned to starboard Boat Deck to avoid the sun (sat where the funnel did the best shading job), and I read my new book from Violet  “All the Rivers Run” until three thirty at which time I wandered through the boring shops on my way down to the cabin.  After all the dire predictions of intolerable temperatures, we still haven’t really experienced it yet.  I’m so glad!

From three- thirty on I worked on the doll till time to dress for dinner.  I wore my tassel dress and got some compliments.  The Fremantle fish was superb as was the crêpe Suzette.  A man entertained us at show time by showing us how pickpockets operate.  He was funny as well as informative.  His name is Bob Arno.  I saw the Sagars briefly on deck while I walked forward admiring the misty moon.

Sunday, 20 February – Exmouth – NOT

We dropped the anchor at seven- ten off the lowest shoreline imaginable, at least judging by the bridge cam.  Immediately a tender set out to shore to set up the shore station.  ———-

However, the day was another case of a port cancellation!  I had not planned on breakfast, but when I arrived on Boat Deck at eight o’clock, all indications pointed to “No go” because the stiff cooling wind and white horses, together with high swell and tossing tenders, plus one tender already being shipped aboard, confirmed my speculation.  As I was in line talking with Fred and wife, Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy with the explanation.  He also said the wind was going to increase to thirty knots in the afternoon when we would be binging people back “home.”  Anyway, I went straight to Maurettania to share Vernon’s table with my Aussie friend (3007).  I next stopped to meet the Lees and talk about the decision with which we agreed.

The rest of the morning at anchor, the Australian customs people aided the tax rebate people, stamped our passports at the Manifest office and we departed at twelve thirty.

At noon, after delivering all four finished dolls (Maria bought Angus and wife for $250 to Maria’s table.  I dashed topside for the port fix:  S 21˚ 57.5′ x E 114˚ 09.695′.  Weather: sunny, warm and windy.

I am glad to be done with the knitting.  Lillian gratefully accepted my miscellaneous balls of yarn.

I had lunch with Lennie and a friend plus an Australian lady (of five generations), and an American lady.  Lenny asked me to join the trivia session in Grand Lounge at 3:30 so I did, but wasn’t on his team.  I spent over an hour on shady Boat Deck reading in very comfortable, warm atmosphere.  The following wind from the South is quite strong, creating numerous white caps, but the over deck velocity is gentle.

Dinner at my table 255 – nothing special.  I had found Valerie Hujlich in the afternoon and I tried to deliver Jean’s letter at dinner but she must have left already. No matter.  I went to sit with the Lees for the show.  Jamie Michael Stewart. 

The true story of the security breach in Fremantle is as told by the Captain to the sewing circle!  Four people, a South African man, two women and another man were drunk.  They somehow managed to get into the automobile pen, found two forklifts and drove them through a breach in the fence and then ran up the aft gangway.  They overpowered a Filipino, who was able to sound an alarm and security people came immediately from all directions and caught them.  Police escorted them to the Police station, and the South African was arrested on the spot.  He said he did this because he was mad he wasn’t allowed on board last year in Durban!

Also Margaret told about Maria’s explanation of “roman hands and Russian fingers” to Eric.  His reply was “Can I practice on you?” Ha HA.

Again I walked the deck to A stairway, pausing to enjoy the soft sounds of passing water, to see the moonlight path dead in our path, and to feel the soft wind and atmosphere.  I washed my hair and did the laundry and watched “Second Hand Lions” before retiring.

Monday, 21 February

We are now in the Torrid Zone for sure with warmth and high humidity.  The wind is light at nine knots and the seas are as slight as can be and swells are very low.  At noon we were at S11˚ 32.7′ x E 115˚17.2′:  Rhumb Line 006˚ north path at 28.3 knots.  Average is 26.7 knots.

In the morning I had breakfast with Vernon, Roy and Jean Soper, and my 3007 Aussie friend.  I then spent time reading on starboard Boat Deck, then headed down to check in with the Lees.  Margaret steered me to the Lido to catch Valerie Hujlich and finally we made contact to deliver Jean Burns’ letter to her.  We two then went early to Terry Waite’s talk by slipping into Tony Ralph’s tour talk.  His talk was gripping as he outlined his four years of captivity as a hostage in Beirut.  Tied to Iran Contra scandal he thinks.

At noon I set up the dolls to sell and photographed Uncle Angus and Morag together.  Valerie and I endured the noise and chaos of the Lido sitting with an American from Virginia then eventually Aussie Margaret and Valerie Bennett.  The rest of the afternoon I remained in my cabin till four thirty when I joined the stitchers in Crystal Bar doing yellow chickens!  It is too hot to be outside!  Elaine McKay and her Mom brought their cute little sheep knitting bags and hope to be able to copy them for further production.

Had dinner at 255 with Mike and Rex.  Rex showed me his photo album of landscape pool jobs as well as the framing of their new house.  Just at dinner we were going between two of the hundreds of islands at 8˚ South Latitude.  I saw a flashing light to starboard on the mountainous, volcanic island they told me was Lompok Island.

The show was only okay in my estimation.  Geraldine Doyle tried to be funny, played the guitar to accompany about four Irish type songs and her husband “Horizontal” played harmonica.  While waiting in our accustomed seats, Margaret and Eric told me about their trip to Tucson, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in the 70s or 80s.  I caught most of the movie “Raising Helen” before my usual deck- walk home.

Tuesday, 22 February – East of Borneo – Equator.

Today we are supposed to cross the Equator, but there is no hype at all so far.  At seven thirty we are just entering the Celebes Sea, east of Borneo. I had breakfast again with Vernon and I finally got the name of my Aussie friend, Patricia Toogood.  I gave her my card with an invitation to visit some time.  Roy and Jean Soper too.

Two major events took place for me – the first being the very helpful lecture on pick pockets.  Captain McNaught gave a wonderful and wide-open interview to all passengers in the Grand Lounge as well.  I took profuse notes, including a direct report on the Fremantle breach of security.  The four people caught are in prison and will be prosecuted to the extent of a new law.  They are the first four who face $200,000 fine and a prison term.  One girl is the daughter of the Chief Superintendent of Police in Fremantle.

Lunch again with Vernon, Patricia, Linda and Fritz.  We always have such good conversations!  Afterward Patricia showed me her cabin (3007) an outside with two drop-down bunks over the two beds at right angles, and a toilet room with a sink and shower room with sink!  I then showed her mine.  Annemie says water is flowing in one of her cabins, alas.  I hope it doesn’t come my way! She also wants to remove my bed skirt for cleaning.

Since we were told we would cross the Equator around 3:30 I headed out to read my book and watch our progress on the GPS.  Finding a good chaise was difficult, but eventually I dragged one away from the sun on starboard and endured the slats until two ladies left near me.  I pounced and stayed there till four thirty.  I watched the GPS count down till 3:37 when the S changed to N in a flash.  The position had us due east of Samarinda on the island of Borneo, and we were passing through the Makassar Strait. Judging from the map and navigation chart this is the start of the intricate weaving in and out of numerous islands as we near the Philippine Islands and toward Subic Bay. The noon reading was S01˚5.4′ x E 118˚ 43.4′  Course: 10˚  Speed: 27.2 knots. Slight seas and low swell.  While on deck I talked with an Aussie from Fremantle who has been on 9 World Cruises.  We love ships in general.  Makassar Strait is between Borneo and Celebes.

Had dinner as usual, and then I watched the movie “Being Julia” a Somerset Maugham novel.  Brief deck time – very humid – near full moon.  Cabin by ten fifteen.

Wednesday, 23 February 

Breakfast again with Vernon, Jean and Roy plus Patricia was pleasant as usual.  I went up on deck directly and found a deck chair under boat ten in the left nook, where the deck crew had just finished painting the railing stanchions.  The sun briefly caused me to scrunch a little, but the funnel and wide davit soon shaded my spot.  I remained there all morning till the noon report then returned to Vernon’s table for a last lunch with Pat, Linda and Fritz.

I went to Lido to get some paper napkins and succumbed to a lone wedge of chocolate fudge cake and ice cream!  Ervin came to sit with me as he ate his chocolate cone from the soft serve machine, in the Pavilion, which we are again allowed to use.

At the Purser’s Office I addressed the envelope with QE2 lyrics to the Captain and cashed travelers checks.  Chatted briefly with Lucy, who was also in line.  I joined Lenny’s team for the classical music quiz and we made 27 out of 30 points.  Back on Boat Deck I stopped to chat with Valerie and Margaret then found a chaise next to Patricia where we chatted over an hour observing tiny fishing boats, distant mountainous islands and occasional tiny lobster pot buoys.

I had my last dinner with Rex and Mike, and we took photos of each other and exchanged cards and emails.  When I saw Annemie preparing her cabins, we chatted as I gave her the nightly bon bons.  She said they had a formal dance in the Grand Lounge at midnight last night.  It was so crowded on the dance floor they really couldn’t move!

Noon:  N08˚ 40.3′ x E 120˚ 13.8′:  course: NNE 15˚  Rhumb line,  Speed: 23.3 knots, 26.8 knots:  Temp: 83˚F.   Wind: N Force 3, 9 knots.  Slight seas and low swell.

Thursday, 24 February – Subic Bay, Philippines

103 Filipinos are leaving today and 107 will return,  As I write this, we are about to pull away from the dock at Subic Bay as we approach six o’clock in the evening.  We arrived shortly before dawn, and when I went to breakfast I heard we were greeted by a high school band. I missed it though. We are in the large Subic Bay, which was once the US naval Base and Clark Air Force Base.  Now the Phippine Government owns it as of 1992, and they are slowly developing it for container ships and cruise ships.  The tours they offer are rather limited, but my tour managed to cover most of the port and near outlying areas.  (Three tugs are on their way to assist us away.)

When we came from the tour of the city; air base where Fed EX has a giant distribution depot, virgin forest, survival training center; hanging bats etc. plus the shoreline with giant 94 foot flag pole and flag.  I ate lunch in the Lido with the Lees.  We three then spent the afternoon on Port Boat Deck observing, reading and stitching, plus people watching as they dribbled in, especially the reluctant Filipinos who had to leave their families. Some dancers and bandsmen entertained us from the dock at least an hour.  When the crowds gathered at the railing, I left.

The whistles blew the warning and tested individual ones and then the stream of returning crew members picked up.  I was quite tired of looking over the railing so decided to dress for dinner and reappear on Starboard to see us move from that side.  The two tugs were pulling us away equally, until the stern tug slackened the tension and went forward to push the hull, or should I say, steady the stern as the pivot, while the bow turned starboard.  I looked to the channel and harbor exit surrounded by distant mountains on both sides and toward sunset.  A plane (maybe a Fed EX one) was poised to land.  At that time I headed inside to watch the movie “Superman 2” while we finished turning and headed out without my presence!!

I had dinner in the Lido on my own, passed through the Grand Lounge while the show was in progress, then on my way around the corner at stairway C on 3 Deck, Annemie and I nearly collided.  To the cabin around 9 o’clock.  N14˚ 48.9′ x E120˚ 17.0′

Friday, 25 February – South China Sea

Another smooth sailing day.  We haven’t experienced any rough seas since before Honolulu.  After breakfast with the Lees and Jenny, I headed for the travel office to book two more tours, then to Boat Deck where I settled on port side away from the sun, which eventually found me and passed me by just before noon and the navigational information.  N20˚44.7’x E121˚21.6′    Course: 27˚  Speed: 23.4 knots.  Slight seas and low swell.

On the way to lunch I turned in my Japan application and cashed a $50 for Yen (6,000).  At the Lido I chose a table by the port bar and was joined by Elaine McKay, her Mother, and Del.  Our conversation was very animated, covering card fraud, computer programs, Cunard inside information and different changes to QE2 from Columbia Restaurant, Cunard office as part of the restaurant, Kosher – Britannia (Elaine called it Columbia annex) and lots more fun ship talk.

I went to the Japan lecture and stayed for the movie “Plots with a View,” a hilarious Welsh production.    There is no one at my dinner table this segment so I ate alone conversing with the Lees and new neighbors.  I had two crème caramels and beef.  Sat with the Lees and Gisele for the duo pianists, Katzenjammer, who were very funny and had a video camera showing their hands on the keyboard.

On my way back home on Boat Deck I had to face the strong forward wind.  Tin was enjoying the trailing wind and water as well so we chatted a bit.  Both she and YoYo are from Singapore!  Clocks forward an hour.

Saturday, 26 February 

From evidence on the bridge cam view, it is rainy and rough.  From my cabin there is only a light pitching feeling.   I had breakfast in the Lido gazing toward the rough seas, and was alone most of the meal but Ivan Pell stopped briefly.  After leaving a message for Valerie Hujlich with Margaret and Eric I wandered a bit.  Margaret steered me to catch Valerie in the Lido and we sat together – joined by her friend Margaret and also Valerie Noonan.  At eleven I attended the Japan lecture.

Noon report:  N27˚55′  E126˚14′   Temp: 51 F – Wind: North at Force 8 or 37 – 50 knots on the deck.  I stopped briefly in the Board Room with Peter Garland and Perle, and headed for lunch with the Lees in the Lido.  I also read for a short time in the Grand Lounge.

I had a nice long nap in the cabin until time to anticipate dressing for dinner.  However, I had time to knit one more yellow chicken for the charity.   Since it was quite chilly, I dressed warmly in my navy trousers, camisole, blue Sag Harbor knit top, blazer and Hong Kong scarf to see the movie “Cold Mountain.”  It was very long and I left just before the end to have dinner in the Lido.  Valerie Noonan had waited for me as well as Lucille, a very nice lawyer who got her law degree as an older woman.  We lingered till Peter Garland came for a chat.  We all parted around 9:40, I to my cabin and the others for the classical concert.

Sunday, 27 February – Nagasaki, Japan

I awoke as we were coming up the channel between the two major islands, Nagasaki to starboard and the naval yard to port.  A new suspension bridge is nearing completion.  A fire tug was spurting for our benefit as we sidled to the dock, which is situated by the step-overpass at the pedestrian hill to Glover Gardens.

I had breakfast with Vernon and we reminisced about our tablemates two years ago.  That came up because I saw the two gentlemen businessmen who sat with us on one of the segments. Richard Clay and Bill Greenwood.  I then went to Queens Room to await the welcome ceremony due at nine forty-five.  I chatted with Evelyn and Marge (from Rochester, formerly from Falmouth).  The entertainment was very vigorous drumming by five young drummers who beat those large and small drums like the world needed to hear them!

I then headed off the ship for a walk up the mountain past touristy shops to the Glover Garden Park, where I saw all the assembled western – colonial-type houses and gardens, including a statue of Puccini in commemoration of his opera “Madama Butterfly.”  After a couple of hours there and shopping, I bought two handkerchiefs and returned with Marie and Frank to the ship for lunch.  Sylvia joined me and we talked about Hawaii.  Sat a bit with the Lees as well.

Not really wanting to head out again, I simply went to see Harry Potter all afternoon, then put another layer on and stood by the railing to see the kids set up and play their band pieces for us while everyone returned from their tours.  The temperature became very cold as we pulled away from the dock at six o’clock with three wonderful blasts of the whistle and did the 180˚ turn around with a stern tug nudging and bow tug pulling.  I stayed up top to watch and photograph our passage under the partially completed suspension bridge.  Just as we went under, my batteries gave out.  With very frozen fingers I went inside via the Funnel Deck entrance and went to dinner on my own at Mauretania.  My neighbors introduced themselves as Margaret and Cynthia.  After the magic and comedian show, by Mel Mellers, I headed for my cabin.

Monday, 28 February, – Inland Sea of Japan

This is another cloudy, rainy day so, after breakfast with Vernon and the Sopers, I spent most of the morning reading my book “All the Rivers Run” while sitting on Starboard in the Grand Lounge.  I had delivered my RSVP to Elaine’s office as she arrived for her work.

At eleven I walked through the Golden Lion pub where the Oscars ceremonies were being broadcast, and up to the Theatre to attend the Mason Lecture on Chiaro House in the Japanese hills.  After lunch with the Lees I sat with Larice who had done a nice painting of Lenny as a character in “Madama Butterfly.”  An Englishman in a Thames Yacht Club sweater, joined us and we two had a nice conversation about nautical collectibles and gifts.

Presently I am back in the cabin for the Noon Report:  N31˚18.1′ x E 133˚ 37.6′:  Course: Rhumb line 090˚  at 18.9 knots.  Wind: 9 knots, 20 knots on deck.  51˚ F and slight seas and low swell.

I napped most of the afternoon, and when I awoke, I knitted until time to dress formally for the Captain’s Cocktail party in his quarters.  Annemie escorted me up by the A lift and I joined the queue of guests who signed his guest book and were introduced by Elaine.  I sang him a line from the “Capital Ship” with QE2 Tandem crossing lyrics, and told him I would be singing it for him if he could make it to the talent show.  He politely showed interest.  Meanwhile, I went on in to stand in a corner.  The Purser, Jan Christiansen came to converse and we shared bicycle stories – of Amsterdam where he is living.  I also had a brief time sitting next to Eric and Margaret plus Marie and Frank.  When discreetly possible, I said thank you to Captain McNAught and headed for the eight o’clock movie “The Black Book.”

After ten I had a Horlicks and returned to the cabin via the Queens Room where the Cherry Blossom ball as in full swing.  Took a photo.

Tuesday, 1 March – Osaka, Japan

While I was eating in the Lido we sidled to our dock right next to the huge Ferris wheel and ships’ terminal next to the Marine Museum.  The big suspension bridge is off our bow as we face up the river or “canal” toward Kobe.

I joined the Ensemble World Explorer tour for Kyoto, and we drove along the big semi-tunneled freeway for about one and a half hours.  We visited a Buddhist Temple, Shinto Shrine and garden, and had a traditional Tempura lunch and a tea ceremony at a teahouse and confectionery shop before heading back to Osaka past castles and a pagoda.  Back near five o’clock.  Just a few cherry trees were budding, and the air was quite crisp.

I sat briefly with the new Australian Margaret and Doris in Queen’s Room while we awaited our departure.  I noticed we were moving away from the dock and crowds of Japanese were waving and watching us.  I had to go outside to see the operation first hand, and found we intended to back beyond the little jetty to starboard.  There were tugs astern off starboard pulling and aft port ready to push, and then the aft starboard left and went forward to start pushing.  The forward port tug continued to pull till we were 90˚ turned when we started forward to complete the 180˚ necessary to head out.

The Ferris wheel and all harbor and city buildings were well lighted by this time.  I ate dinner alone again and the maitre d’ asked if I want to change tables.  More people will come at Hong Kong so I’ll remain at 255.  I attended the last show of the QE2 Singers and Dancers, then headed to the cabin.

Wednesday, 2 March – at Sea

After my usual breakfast with Vernon and the Sopers I simply headed aft to check in with the Lees.  However, I didn’t stay long.  Peter Garland filled me in on the Pattaya Orphanage tour and I have decided to do this one.  The deal is that one makes a donation during the tour (minimum $40).  I will attend a meeting tomorrow at three thirty in the Chart Room for further details.  At ten o’clock I attended the lecture on tours, then chased down Valerie Hujlich in the Lido.  She told me of her experiences in Keelung with very helpful Chinese individuals. 

I then decided to try the open deck situation after Sue from Adelaide said it was nice up there.  The upshot was that I sat on a deck chair quite alone enjoying the somewhat cool air for over an hour.  I heard the noon whistle and recorded our position for verification.  A lot of Korean and Japanese port way marks showed on the GPS screen.   N30˚ 5.7′ x E 132˚ 24.7′   Speed: 15.7 knots.  Course: 235˚ (southwest.  Temp: 60˚ F  Wind: NE 5 knots. 15 knots on deck.  Slight seas, low swells.

At twelve forty-five I entered the Lido teeming with diners, including numerous Japanese in a long queue for their special food between the stairs.  For refuge, I quickly retreated to the Lee’s table and joined them as they finished up.  A lady from Sydney came later and we agree the place is a madhouse.  One meal like this and a hasty retreat to peaceful Mauretania will be welcome tomorrow!  I went back to my lone chaise on deck by D doorway and finished, ‘”All the Rivers Run” It got a bit cool, so went to the cabin at three o’clock.  I knitted a while, showered and went to the movie, “Vanity Fair,” followed by a Lido dinner on my own.  However, I joined Lucy and Jeanette for a good old natter.  On my way along Boat Deck, I noted a series of lights to starboard, two blinking and two constant.

Wednesday, 3 March – East China Sea.

This is a rather stormy day.  As I walked up A stairway I passed a gal coming down who was dripping wet from running on deck.  The wind is a very strong gale force, but since we are going downwind with a following sea, the wind doesn’t feel all that strong.  I stayed inside attending the lecture by the BBC producer, Terrence Hughes, and then Peter Crimes talk on Taipei and Hong Kong.  I emerged on deck in time for the noon whistle and report.  As I looked over the railing the water was quite churned up with flying spray, deep swell troughs and rough seas.  The ship occasionally rocks and subtly pitches and as I looked forward I could see the bow was outlining a circle as she tries to keep on the exact course.  N 27˚ 35.5′ x E 126˚ 14.9′  Wind: North. Force 8 (37k).  Rough seas and heavy swell. Temp: 58˚ F.

I spent some time facing aft at the taffrail watching the pitch up and down.  An Aussie and I enjoyed it since we both are sailors.  Lunch with the Lees in a moving Lido with the little signs on the cafeteria lines, falling over often.  Rice pudding. 

While back in the cabin a repairman came to check my A/C.  I suspect it may have been related to a Priority One  call earlier in 3 Deck Fan Room 10, wherever that is.

I chose a book from the Library to read.  Captain Arnott’s autobiography. “Capt. Of the Queen”.  After the three thirty charity meeting, I read it by a starboard window in Grande Lounge.  The rising waves, swells and white spew were fascinating to watch!

Dinner in the Mauretania was enjoyable for several reasons, First – I looked out at the rough seas till dark, had good conversations across the tables with the Lees, Margaret and Cynthia, plus we had Beef Wellington and the baked Alaska parade.  We held hands across the table abysses while we all sang “Aulde Lang Syne,” and waiters and chefs held their sparklers.

A cellist presented her show and tried to appeal to all tastes.  I felt unsatisfied and upon discussing it with Gisele, we agreed the “show” would have been better in a recital format.  The seas have abated slightly.  Clocks back an hour.

Friday, 4 March – Keelung, Taiwan – NOT

Nope!  We are still at sea and will continue to be since we have to skip Taiwan altogether.  The Captain announced there is a five-meter swell pushing into the mouth of the harbor (15 foot swell.)  This and just getting the ship through the narrow entrance and around the corner would be much too dangerous for the ship.  So, we are bypassing and at present only going 14.3 knots in the not so rough seas heading straight for Hong Kong.  We will be docking there tomorrow – one extra night! 

For a while I didn’t have any definite ideas what to do, so I wandered around making a stop briefly at the Lees and Fran’s grouping in Queens Room.  There was no available chair so I continued toward Lido where I sat with Valerie, Margaret and eventually English Valerie (Woods).  We commented on the lack of structure we felt as well as references to some of their experiences.  Valerie Hujlich was sad! She was unable to see her new Taiwan friends.

I eventually left them in favor of a quiet spot in  the Grand Lounge.  However, before I settled in a group of crew was waiting for drill instructions.  Elaine was also there and upon my mention of ashtrays on the non-smoking on starboard side, Elaine responded with action, namely collecting the six or more little trays, one with two butts. She took them away mentioning they weren’t even QE2 property!

I stayed there reading and knitting as well as gazing at the sea with its gray, agitated waves and foam.  After faintly hearing the noon whistle, Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy with more apologies about the most recent port cancellation.  He also announced he will not be leaving in Hong Kong after all because Captain Bates is unable to take over till Singapore.  N 25˚ 1.3′ x E 120˚ 29.4′  Speed:  14.9 knots.  Course 237˚  Temp 58˚ F.  Wind NE Force 7, thirty knots (5 K over deck).  Rough seas and heavy swell.

Again I shared lunch with the Lees.  When I recognized Andrew the ‘cellist of last night, I initiated brief conversation of cello talk.  I returned to the cabin and spent the afternoon watching television, and listening to Sue’s lecture on diaries and knitting.  I chose to watch the movie “Princess Diaries” then ate in the Lido.  Had a brief chat with Lilian and Valerie H. by stairway E on my way back downward.  The seas have calmed down substantially so there is very little motion.

Saturday, 5 March – South China Sea and Hong Kong arrival.

Although it has been mostly sunny all day, a haze has hung around most of it.  The following cool wind persists, and since we are constantly fleeing its brunt, the white caps persist everywhere on the moderate seas and moderate swells.

I had breakfast with Vernon and the Sopers, and then had a cool and pleasant sojourn under boat 9 until eleven o’clock reading and enjoying the outlook.  I then had to retreat inside for a few errands and the talent show rehearsal behind the stage.  I chatted with the Lees and Doris, and then joined them for English pub lunch in the Crazy Lido.  Peter Garland came by briefly trying to get a rise out of Eric!  Oh yes, earlier I chatted with the two Australian Valeries, Valerie H. in curlers and bandana!

I returned to my deck chair right after lunch to read until two thirty when I headed downward to dress in black for the talent show.  We had twenty acts including singing, harmonica, fiddle and spoons, and piano, opera, my ditty to QE2 and Lenny plus guess who!  Diva, who else?  People snicker as usual but I must give her credit for guts!  She had two good notes at least!  Warren said the Captain was in the balcony, but I don’t know for sure.  The whole thing took over an hour and a half.

Noon readings:  N21˚53.3′ x E 115˚ 51.2′   Course:  285˚  Rhumb line.  Speed: 17.1 knots  Temp: 51˚ F  Wind: NNE Force 6 – 26 knots,  30 knots over the deck.  Moderate east and moderate swell.

So – when we were abreast of all the little outlying islands to Hong Kong, I went on Starboard and moved along and up to the various decks in order to see all around as we passed by the successive peaked and apartment laden islands, past marker buoys, sampans engaged in hauling the lobster pots, tankers, ferries, cranes, barges and so on.  Twice QE2 sounded her whistle one long blast presumably to signal passing to starboard.  Dusk came and gave way to night and all the lights of the city lit the buildings as a fireboat spurted its water jets, rowboats scurried out of the way, and everything afloat lit up all bright and dim anchor lights or running lights.  Also the air was hazy all along and this added to the atmosphere expected of this famous and busy city and waterway.

When three tugs pushed us sideways toward our accustomed Pier, I went inside for dinner at the Lido.  I met up with Richard and Bill of two years ago and we enjoyed ship talk till they left for the night market.  I simply sat in the Grand Lounge relaying the recent news about QM2, which the men reported.  Refit to make more crew cabins.

Annette Wardell sang her lovely arias, looking coquettish and regal in character.  Before going downward I strolled along Starboard Boat Deck admiring the night-lights and traffic on the water.  I met Sheshank and friends on their way out, and I gave him his tip and he hugged me.