Saturday, 22 of June of 2024

2007 World Cruise – Part 4

Queen Elizabeth 2 World Cruise 2007 

Hobart, Tasmania to Japan

 Saturday, 17 February – Hobart, Tasmania

We moved up the Bay to Hobart and docked at the container port area just as dawn arose.  The Australian immigration inspection took a long time, so instead of standing in the endless line, I went to breakfast and sat with Archie, David and wife Myrtle, and when they left, Marilyn and Paula joined me at the window table.

When through the long line I headed off the ship via Four Deck between A and B stairways, then took the shuttle to the Elizabeth and Davey store, where I alighted and went to the Salamanca Square Saturday market.  I got a black skein of yarn, then ambled back via the waterfront to see the “Windward” Barkentine, then ‘”Endeavour.” Having read the contemporary book on Captain James Cook, Blue Latitudes,  I was excited to see this.  Both of these square- riggers are replicas of past historic ships.  Also I saw a series of sculptures depicting Antarctic explorers.  The Maritime Museum is in the Carnegie old library.  It moved in 2000 and the QE2 map is way out of date.  I took the shuttle back to the ship through tight security.  Lunch at the Lido.  I sat with the Lees for quite a while till the sun made it too hot on deck.

We learned that the cables and wiring on Boat Deck are for the new security camera set-up.  It is a big project consisting of much wire-running and the attaching of the little round eye cameras.

Wendy and I watched our departure from Hobart from the bow observation deck.  There was a Port quarter brisk wind, which brought a welcome cooling.  We then sat together facing outward at our table so we could see us pass by the land.  I was back in my cabin by eight o’clock.  The geography of this area consists of the Derwent River, Storm Bay, Tasman Island and Banks Strait plus Swan Island and Clarke Island as well as Bass Strait. Each name helps me recall the landmarks as we passed out of the bay.

Sunday, 18 February.

I had breakfast at a portside window with Marilyn and a new lady, Lois.  I then spent the whole morning on deck reading on portside away from the bright sun.  The breeze was pleasantly cool.  Just before noon I reported to the Grand Lounge for the Talent Show sign-up and rehearsal with the young tentative pianist. “Oh Sleep…”  Paula Bell had waited for me so we went to lunch in the restaurant observing the white horses – a brown patch and speculating on possible currents in Bass Strait.

Black Tie gave their Sunday, “classical” concert, – the best yet with opera arias, parodies, and virtuoso piano and cello playing by Valerie and Suzie.  Yuri and older brother are bass-baritones and forceful.  Paula sat with me too.  Soon followed the Talent Show, with all the usual suspects! 

Tonight’s dinner featured the Baked Alaska parade to the tune of an Aussie song!  I ruined the tablecloth with ink by mistake, then stained it with cherries too!  Woops! The movie “Marie Antoinette” was playing in the Theatre, so I decided to watch it from the Balcony. 

Monday, 19 February – Melbourne – 34˚ 50.8′ S x 144˚ 55′ E

I spent the morning on board mainly reading on deck in overcast weather with a pleasant breeze.  A French naval ship came in behind us.  I watched several BP barrels being hoisted on board way up by the funnel!

Lunch being next on my schedule I went to the Lido and then reported to the Theatre at 12:15 for my tour to Olinda and the Dandenong Mountains – observatory and bird sanctuary. 

Our departure was slightly delayed, but the city shoreline was spectacular to watch in the meantime.  All mist had cleared in brilliant sunshine.  We had a wind on our starboard quarter as the tugs pulled us away in preparation for the immediate forward motion.  During dinner we proceeded between the abundant markers on each side of the narrow channel and along a visible tide rip.  David, our waiter is from Sri Lanka.

 Tuesday, 20 February – Sydney: Historic meeting of QE2 and QM2

There is absolutely nothing on this World Cruise that can possibly top today’s entry into Sydney Harbor!  I spent all morning on deck reading the Cook Journals pertaining to the exploration of Australia’s East Coast.  I watched the distant coastline go by, but nothing was really distinguishable except a couple of lighthouses on points.

After lunch with Gwendolyn, Liz and Hugh (her friends), I returned on deck for the rest of the afternoon.  Finally, we could see the high buildings of Sydney in the mist.  At six o’clock the Pilot came aboard, and I set my video camera going and let it run a full hour – through the Heads and carefully on with hundreds of boats, a fire boat, a steam launch, small and large boats, sailboats, excursion boats, Zodiacs and Kayaks!  Hundreds and maybe a thousand.  We slowly approached Fort Denison and spotted Queen Mary 2 docked at the Naval Yard – bow facing away from us.  We exchanged whistle salutes, or I thought so (QM2 was faint if non-existent) several times.  QE2 boomed her resonant sound all over the area, and hundreds of thousands of people lined the shores.  On we went with the flotilla escorts, right up to the Opera House and Bridge, where we backed into the Overseas Passenger Terminal with the help of two tugs, and the continuing water tug liquid salute.  My videotape ended as we pulled close to the dock.  People by a million or so lined every park, beach, landing, the Opera House and bridge.  Traffic was at a standstill everywhere, and of course, whistles blew from every quarter!  Occasionally one could hear sirens blaring as well, probably because of the traffic jams!

After a quick dinner with Paula in the Lido, I “regrouped” and returned topside starboard to watch the fireworks, which popped and rose somewhere beyond where the QM2 was docked.  Splendid!  Queen Mary 2 is due to leave at eleven o’clock tonight, but I’m not sure we can see anything from here, the Opera House being between us.

 Wednesday, 21 February – Sydney

The spotlights were on all night into the channel 3 camera making it very bright in my inside cabin!  After my breakfast in the Lido I found Wendy there waiting for her disembarking orders, so we chatted a fairly long time.  When we did part, I too went ashore and walked up Philip Street and Elizabeth Street to David Jones department store, then to the Center Point where I had a long chat with Diana de Jersey and bought my stuffing for the dolls at Lincraft, and found two Sydney newspapers with fabulous photos of yesterday’s hoopla!  On the way back to the ship, I finally managed to reach Cherie back in the States for a fairly long talk.

After lunch back on the ship I set out again.  I took the ferry to Darling Harbor via water to Luna Park, McMahon Point and so on to the step-off pier.  I walked to the Maritime Museum, but only managed to view the two square- riggers, “James Craig” and the “Bounty” replica.  I did wander inside the museum, however, and saw all kinds of exhibits from ship gear to sailors’ clothing, artifacts, scrimshaw and so forth.  By the time I returned to QE2 by Ferry, I was quite tired!

There is a new Australian couple from Canberra at my table, Carolee and Bob Robertson. I walked aft on Boat Deck to the Lido, and sat with Jean Burns while I ate two crème caramels, then found Paula while she ate.  I was back in the cabin by nine o’clock.

By the way, it appears some disembarking QM2 passengers were caught stealing cutlery, silver, artwork etc. from the ship.  Customs people detected this and then everyone was searched!  Paul Wright is back on board QM2 as of Sydney.

 Thursday, 22 February – Sydney

I stayed on board after breakfast with Jenny way forward, then chatted with Martha Garinger.  At ten o’clock I joined Jean Burns, Nellie Burns and the Lees plus Violet Crafton for a walk to the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel for a prolonged sit and visit while having a coffee time and eventually club sandwiches – all the gift of Violet.  By two o’clock I excused myself to shop at the hotel shop and along the way back via the Rocks.  I bought a hat and three nice T-shirts embroidered with Australia scenes.  I kept running into Carolee and Bob!  Before re-embarking, I did one more sightseeing stop at the John Cadman House right by the ship and the Seamans’ Home.  The family honored here was of convict stock whose job was Government Coxswain for 27 years.

Our slow departure from Sydney started by six thirty as we were pulled away by the tugs fore and aft.  The whistle blew several times in the usual fashion of three blasts plus one, and there were only four or five boats going along with us.  We had to toot warnings to racing sailboats near the Heads.  After the pilot boat, named “Governor Bligh,” peeled away from us and we passed through to open ocean, I then joined Marguerite and Jeri for dinner at the Lido, and a Scottish lady named Janet McGuff who joined us.  She may ask to sit at 255 with me, since she has just embarked and didn’t have anyone special with whom to sit.  I would welcome here heartily!  I chose a fantastic chocolate teacup shaped goody with yummy cream in it for dessert.

 Friday, 23 February

I have always said that mealtime is my most social time, and this morning was no exception.  My friend Marilyn usually sits way over on portside near the wall between Mauretania Restaurant and the Crystal bar, and it is there I went this morning to share breakfast time with Marilyn, Nancy and two delightful English people.  I then spent a short while on deck till Ian Duguid’s and Richard Hayman’s lectures.  I talked briefly with Diane, then joined Peter and Grania for a lively lunch on Portside of the Mauretania.  I had Greek salad and hot love dessert, a Sundae with raspberries. 

I bought a QE2 tie tack and was asked for my ID, which I don’t carry!  My door key verified the cabin number!  I guess they are cracking down on possible spurious purchases.  I showed the pin to Margaret and Eric, and when I spied Archie Cooper and Bill Noonan plus Art, I went to join their lively conversations about Sydney and politics.

I had wanted to read on deck but a heavy downpour had dampened the cushions and water was running in the scuppers, so I spent the afternoon in my cabin knitting and watching an Australian film about the Aborigine experience when in 1931 children were taken from their parents to be made servants and learn the “civilized way.”  Three girls ran away and walked over a thousand miles along a rabbit barrier fence back home.

Janet did join the Robertsons and me at our table and is pleased with the change from the late sitting.  I sat with the Lees for the very fine Aussie soloist, Davidia, a great soprano with deep low tones!

The waxing moon sliver added to the stars and clouds as I walked “home” via Boat Deck in mild air.  Clocks back one hour.

Saturday, 24 February – Brisbane – 27˚17.5’S x 153˚ 14.2′ E

I was awake just after five o’clock and knitted till we arrived at the dock near 0700.  We had to “overshoot” Brisbane in order to clear the island and head back south.

I met Norma Hoad outside the gates to the Port after a short shuttle bus trip.  We waited for Wendy Firman a while, and when we decided to go, we spotted her and her son, who delivered the Ginger products for Sylvia, our wine steward.  There was ample for me to have some as well.

Norma then drove me to her home in Clayfield after shopping for lunch stuff.  We ate it then headed out for the River Cat, which plies between the several ports along the inland river.  We embarked at Bulimba and spent two hours happily on the river.  She returned me to the ship by four-thirty, and when six o’clock came and after I had taken a hasty dinner, I headed to the bow to watch us proceed out the very long and complicated channel from Brisbane.  Earlier, the “Pacific Star” a P&O ship, passed us and whistle salutes were exchanged.  At the time I wondered why the three plus 1 and other toots happened.  I stood up front, watching us proceed along the first quarter moon path and through the successive red and green buoys blinking.  I speculated on our route (red on starboard etc.) and found the white lights on shore were alignment signals, and I could predict our next turn to starboard.  An Aussie couple came up as we turned and confirmed the land ahead as we turned was Caloundra and the island to starboard was Moreton Island.  I walked aft and had a bowl of strawberries in the Lido – with Jeri and Marguerite.  I am looking forward eagerly to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow.

Sunday, 25 February.

It is very plain that we will again be passing east of the Great Barrier Reef, and therefore I simply sat on portside Boat Deck under number 12 all morning reading about Cook’s experiences along here.  I ate breakfast with the Radcliffes, Lee and mother Virginia and Dave (from Milwaukee).  Virginia used to live in Truro on Cape Cod.

The weather has been warm but comfortable with sun to light the blues of the ocean – even though I could see no land!  At noon we were at 20˚30’S x 152˚23’E, 24 nautical miles from the reef.  Speed: 28.2 knots heading 303˚ Rhumb line – slight seas and short swell.  Wind: Force 5 – 17 knots over the decks.

The Duguid talk was more of a “what to do one,” and I followed that with lunch with Paula and a couple.  I had the window.

Michael Simpson as Pilot gave us a thorough account of the job Piloting this area as well as why QE2 doesn’t go inside anymore.  1.  She needs to flush the grey water.  2.  It is cyclone time and the Pilot has to be able to get us within the Barrier Reef if a storm comes.  Hmmm! 

I spent the rest of the afternoon in my cabin working on Morag, the doll.  She is nearly done!  Dinner was next and Carolee was discontent with the food and I tried to keep quiet.  After dinner, Janet also expressed not wanting to hear the complaints.  I went to Observation Deck with Gisele to see the moon path and us proceeding in the dark.  We walked back to the Lido and sat while I had a nice custard.  I also chatted with the Bishops, and then returned to my cabin for the night.

 Monday, 26 February – Cairns – Yorkey’s  Knob. 16˚ 45.7′ x 145˚ 45.1 E

I stayed on board at this anchor port.  The humidity turned to wind and rain early while I was having breakfast with the Lees, so I literally spent the morning knitting and chatting with them in Queen’s Room till lunch in the Lido with them as well.  I did return to my cabin and found two men cleaning my air conditioner, goody!  I also saw the movie, “Failure to Launch.”  Finished the Morag doll, and now we head for Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, reached by crossing a bit of the Coral Sea.

Tuesday, 27 February – Coral Sea.

It was cloudy and rainy most of the day with low, easterly swells and moderate seas.  I had a late breakfast at the Lido and joined Janet and met John Hardie from Melbourne.  He too comes on QE2 for the ship, so we had a lot in common.  He said he submitted a photo of a mauve container ship to the “Ships Monthly” and was paid £15 for it.  I told him about Linerslist.  His cabin is 4427 till Hong Kong.

I attended Ian Dugiud’s and Richard Hayman’s lectures on Australian Culture and Pacific Navigation respectively, then headed for Mauretania for lunch, eventually with Valerie Bennets from the Gold Coast and Paula Bell. 

I loved seeing “Happy Feet” in the very crowded balcony, the most crowded I’ve seen a movie in a very long time.  Then after that, I headed for the Lido and found Paula and Sheila (?) and enjoyed cheese and crème brulée.  Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” was presented in the Grand Lounge, an exceedingly hot venue.  I walked the deck for relief, but it was quite hot there as well.  Nine thirty saw me retreat to my cabin.

Wednesday, 28 February.  Solomon Sea.

At breakfast with Bob and Carolee I displayed the three dolls in the dining room before putting them in the Board Room.  Then, when the charity table opened, I left them there hoping they will be sold.

The two lectures of the morning were by Captain Hayman “Chinese Explorers in 1421” and then Judy Cornwell who plays Daisy in “Keeping Up Appearances” gave us humorous anecdotes about rehearsals and filming of the series.  The Theatre is about the only cool place on the ship right now, because the tropical air outside is super hot and humid.

I had lunch in my section with an English lady and eventually Paula joined us.  I then joined many others in the Balcony of the Theatre to see “Casino Royale” and keep cool!

The Captain didn’t give the Latitude and Longitude today, but my GPS reading earlier registered 08˚S.  We are in the Solomon Sea and at noon we passed between the two islands, Kitava on Port and Kinaver on starboard in the Trobriand Island group.  We are going 15.9 knots on three of our 9 engines.

I retreated to the cabin till dinnertime when I dressed in black and white formal to join my tablemates similarly dressed; After my treacle tart, I had a crème caramel in the Lido with Paula.  We lingered happily chatting till eight-thirty when I checked out the singer in the Grand Lounge.  Beastly hot, so I left for the cabin.  Hot there too!

All during this Torrid Zone transit it has been exceedingly hot in public rooms, especially the Grand Lounge, as well as my section on Five Deck.  Thank heavens for my special wall A/C unit over the other bed.  It would be intolerable in here otherwise.

Thursday, 1 March – Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

I had an eight o’clock Theatre time for my tour, but reported early.  However, the tour was already called so I left my video camera in the cabin and proceeded ashore from 5 Deck G stairway via tender. We were greeted on shore by natives beating drums and hollow logs, as well as children dancing while holding vertical carved wooden  “staffs.”  A group would dance in the heat and then another group took over with more elaborate “staffs.”  They were all most colorful.

When finally aboard van 19 with non-English speakers, Portuguese and French, we headed through what is left of Rabaul, after a devastating volcano eruption a few years ago.  We went up a mountain to the volcano observatory – to the devastated parts, to a crashed Japanese plane, to the “Airport” under meters of ash, and back to the ship before lunch.  It was at least 100˚ F and humid.

The people of Papua New Guinea were very friendly and talked to us in English.  I bought one post card and left money in the hats of people posing for us in native dress.

Back at the ship I ate with my tablemates, but up until our departure I sat in Yacht Club enjoying Puccini music and observing the shore scenes.  Carolee and Bob Robertson filled us in on their life-story, which included the reason they wanted to return to Rabaul.  They had met here during the war when they were both working in the military over 50 years ago; they eventually married and this was their 50th anniversary celebration.  Congratulations!

I saw the movie “King Kong” (nice and cool in the balcony) and emerged to enjoy a clearer view of the volcano, steam and ash.  Before I left the Lido, I introduced myself to Captain Richard Hayman with thanks for his lectures, and he says there are more to come.

When I did my usual Boat Deck walk, the wind was pretty stiff as we barreled along northward.  I ended up in the Lido to chat with Geri and Marguerite, then with Paula.

The gravelly volcanic ash surface completely demolished my sandals today so I had to throw them away.  The soles peeled off and were very holey with gouges in them.  However, this gives me an excuse to buy another pair when I get to Singapore!

 Friday, 2 March

I had breakfast with Marilyn and Nancy at their table.  My goal was to attend Richard Hayman’s lecture on Magellan, which I did at ten o’clock.  During that session QE2 crossed the Equator, but I missed the event, alas!

At noon I leaned over the Boat Deck railing in spite of raindrops and enjoyed the brief sojourn.  After lunch with Eric and Margaret in the Lido I spent the whole afternoon in the cabin knitting till dinnertime.  Janet didn’t come, but I headed to the Lido to catch other friends and found Paula with whom I stayed till nine o’clock chatting.  The temperature in the cabin remains mighty hot so I now sleep on top of the duvet with my sleeveless shirt.  We are in the Bismarck Sea and the rain is pouring violently.

 Saturday, 3 March

We will pass through the Caroline Islands (20 nautical miles off) later – cross the Mariana Trench where the depth of water is 678 miles deep!  Then in the evening we will go between Guam and Rota (15 nautical miles away).

This has been a rainy, windy day with moderate swells, which cause us to pitch a bit.  There have been plenty of white caps as well, and when I went to breakfast with Jean B. we had to avoid a drippy leak in the bulkhead under Boat Deck!  I delivered another knitted doll to Margaret for eyes and tongue, then headed early to the Theatre for Richard Hayman’s lecture on Japan.  Not having anything further scheduled for me of interest, I settled with the Lees to knit while listening to a cooking lesson in the Grand Lounge.

When Captain Perkins came along to talk with us, I showed him the knitted doggies, which he mistook for wombats, and he said we should name them Captain and Mate!  Not a bad idea!

I had lunch in the Mauretania with a man from Berlin and two Sydneysiders, by a window overlooking the very active waves and swells, rain and fog.  Paula was at a small neighboring table so I joined her on my way out for a fun discussion on British Sitcoms and dramas.  At two o’clock I saw “The Queen” again.

Dinnertime always swings around at a great rate and again, I dressed in formal attire for sharing our specially ordered rhubarb crumble, one of the few desserts Carolee can get excited about.  We had mentioned it last night and decided to order it specially and I am glad we did.  Yum!  As usual I wandered back to the Lido to join Paula as she dined alone and we had a great time talking about the stately homes of Britain and other wonderfully British topics. 

I tried the show tonight, and was amused by the antics of duo-pianists KatzenKammer Kids.  They crawl all over the keyboard playing very showy pieces, moving along the bench and not missing a note.  The ship continues to pitch in the rather large swells, all this above the deepest Mariana Trench at 35,798 feet deep!

 Sunday, 4 March

Being on Five Deck more or less midships, is the place for the least motion, so it wasn’t until I was well awake, I didn’t notice how much we are really pitching until I saw spray come over the bow and sweep well across the foredeck.  We are plunging straight into the oncoming waves. At 17˚35 N at the moment.  I headed upward for the Lido but returned for my video camera in hopes of getting some action footage.  That is difficult to convey the pitching adequately!

I attended the Richard Hayman talk on Japan, then found a spot amongst the Germans in the Yacht Club to knit and read.

Noon Report:  19˚18’N x 143˚30’E.  Speed: 24.9 knots, Course:  347˚ Rhumb Line in moderate seas and moderate northeast swells which gives us good pitching!  Any action is welcome!

I joined Bob and Carolee in the Mauretania for lunch.  The two-thirty movie “Stranger Than Fiction.”  I finished the fourth knitted dog.  Not wanting to return to the Mauretania in formal attire, I headed for the Lido for dinner with Marguerite and Geri plus Rick from Honolulu.  The show was very different tonight with a Royal Academy performance of two playlets, “Drinking Companions” and “Gosforth’s Fête” by Alan Ayckbourn.

I was back at the cabin by nine-thirty in a much calmer sea with only slight pitching, I stayed up till midnight knitting on a new Cinderella doll with a slightly altered color scheme.

The seas calmed through the night, and the moon shone brightly so I could see the bow and waters ahead whenever I looked at the television on channel 3.  I do so love watching the moonlight dancing on the waves!