Thursday, 23 of November of 2017

2008 World Cruise – Part 2

Tuesday, 29 January: Montevideo, Uruguay: 34˚ 54.25′ S x 056˚ 12.7 W.

As I write this at 8 a.m. we are doing a 180˚ turn around within the 1000 by 1000’ confined space of the harbor in Montevideo.  For several hours the ship worked her way up the narrow dredged channel of the River Plate, and when ready to do the 90˚ square turn to starboard, two tugs pushed on the bow and the counter thrust had to be made on starboard stern to pivot us on the mid-ships.  There was a while there when vast amounts of mud were stirred up as the tugs labored to turn us.  I think we were scraping the bottom.  The buses (no where near as many as in 2006 with QM2) are already waiting for us, and no doubt they (the drivers) are presently enjoying the spectacle of the 180˚ turning within the small space.

I got several photos this time of the old steam tug mounted on the outer breakwater.  This is the harbor where whistle sounds are not permitted.

My tour today took me to Punta del Este past various landmarks in town such as Holy Trinity Church, which is small Greek influence building with column on the front façade, Palermo, the Afro-Uruguayan section, many public beaches where people were exercising, walking themselves or their dogs, along beautifully laid-out patterned pedestrian sidewalks.  We passed Belmount House once a large private home and now a sizable hotel.

The first stop was at a very curiously designed private home and museum called Casapueblo, built in a rambling manner by the artist, Carlos Paeg Pilaro.  He used iron, wood, sticks, cement and other materials with inset tiles, wall decorations of his blue and white design, weird pointed towers and so forth – all on a cliff overlooking the wide mouth of the River Plata at Maldonado.  On the other side of this little peninsula, we cold see Maldonado Bay with two cruise ships and a three-masted squarerigger of small size.  A lot of the houses in the private districts they showed us had shiny tile roofs and the usual red tiles.

The next stop was at Museum Ralli, set in a lovely large park area, landscaped with trees, flowering bushes, wide lawns and birds.  We saw an ovenbird as well as a crane-like bird.  Uruguay means river of birds.  Plata means silver.  Here is a list of other sights:

Undulating bridge, Eva Peron house – chimneys in each room area; tall lighthouse no longer in use; Big Marina; Teitore restaurant by the ocean.  We were back at the ship by six o’clock, where I had dinner on my own at table 293 – fish and ice cream.

I wandered on deck taking video scenes and eventually settled into a chair forward in the balcony of Grand Lounge to wait the hour and half for the local tango show.  It was superb and I finished up cassette number 1 with the singing and dancing.  The place was packed to the rafters.  I walked the deck to see Montevideo by night; then returned to 4017 for the night.

Wednesday, 30 January: Montevideo

An exterior water sound of intermittent pulsing caused me to look out my porthole.  A Pulmantur ship was sidling to the dock perpendicular to ours.  While depositing my Argentina landing forms at the Purser’s Office, I ran into Tony and Ann, so we headed for breakfast together.  I told them of the crew places I’ve been on the ship over the years.  I then checked the weather and walked to D stairway entrance, stepping over the 2 “Out of Bounds” signs with permission of a deck hand!

Upon landing on the dock I took a shuttle to the Montevideo Leather Factory outlet at the lovely Independence Square next to the distinctive tower building.  Back at the ship I went immediately to Casa Marion on their shuttle, and came away with a nice red leather bag for $20 off the price because of a spot. ($100).  The spot came off nicely when I used soap and water.

I slept a while, awakening close to one o’clock in time to have lunch at the Lido with Archie and eventually Shirley Warren and then Billy.  When we were ready to leave Montevideo, we let go the lines and blew the whistle three times (contrary to the rules of the harbor??), the tugs on starboard bow and stern pulled the ship exactly sideways till it was clear of the ship “Sky Wonder” from Pullmantur cruises, and then with another series of three whistles, we proceeded past the very long breakwater, did the 90˚ port turn with the aid of tugs, and we were on our way, waving to the enthusiastic well-wishers on the end, by the beacon.  There was a brisk wind and the temperature indescribably cool and warm, finally drove me aft for an ice cream cone and to the cabin.

I slept again while watching a television documentary of interviews with actual officer participants in the Falklands War 1982.  Awoke for dinner with Rosina, Eddie and Jean.  Alan our waiter is a singer and is working on “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”

After a brief check in with the Lees, Marie and Lillian, I headed for the cabin, not wanting to hear another comedian.  We have left the shallow waters of the River Plata and are now heading almost due south toward the Falklands. 163˚ at 26.6 knots.  I knitted a significant amount till bed around eleven o’clock.  All is smooth going.

Thursday, 31 January:

Flat seas seem to be the order of the day as we head southward to the Falkland Islands.  The sun is making definite shadows on the bow.  As the day progressed, however, the wind has increased to15 mph and little whitecaps are gleaming as they dot the slight seas.

I spent three hours in the Theatre attending the Crimes lecture on Punta Arenas, the Strait of Magellan up to Valparaiso and the Atacama Desert – with lovely slides of mountains and fjords.  Next came Hillary Kay’s talk on the Antiques Road Show.  Then, after the noon report, an enchanting hour lecture on wintering in Antarctica by the ship’s Doctor Petra Schmidt.

I had lunch by the windows in Victoria and Greg’s station on portside.  Fish and chips, tea and strudel.  After attending to the email, I went on deck, armed with my QM2 fleece and black windbreaker for over 2 hours reading.  At four thirty I had a cup of tea in the Board Room, and while there, Perle came in so I gave her the QV review to read.  I returned to the cabin to knit, rest and watch the Antarctic lecture on television.  Dinner at the Lido with Marguerite, Shirley and later, Valerie.

The harpist was very “whizbang” but somehow her harp sounded tinny!

Clocks back one hour.

Friday, 1 February: Port Stanley, Falklands – NOT!

When I awoke around six o’clock new time we were still steaming along at 186˚ and a long and noticeable swell was hitting us broadside, so occasionally spray swept by my porthole.  However, when we turned more westerly and came into the shadow of the land, that swell stopped.  At 6:50 we have turned Eastward away from the island 90˚, which tells me we are aborting this stop, alas!

Yup!  The Captain informed us at 7:05 that upon having discussed the situation of an oncoming storm with force 7 or 8 winds, it would be too dangerous for the tenders.  Therefore, with regret we will not be calling at the Falklands today.  However, the Air Force did send out a helicopter, which hovered in various spots and circled the ship.  Margaret Lee told me they saw it hover over the bow and a man was lowered to the bow deck; he waved and was again lifted to the helicopter.  That explains why we in the stern heard the hovering sounds forward for so long.  Meanwhile, there were a few Albatrosses gliding in the winds.

The two Air Force jets made several passes to our Port, then as a parting gesture, they swooped forward either side of the ship and swept upward and were gone.  Alas, I missed that because my camera was off.  At least I saw it!

Next was a consolation breakfast.  I encountered the complainer and wouldn’t put up with his negatives, so I moved to the inner table with Americans who knew all about “him.”  It is quite raw outside now, but bright.  Regroup time.!!

I went to see the Lees in their accustomed spot and showed Margaret my Xerox charts.  Capt. McNaught came walking by and I humbly spoke up and suggested Ushuaia.  He came back to talk to us and I mentioned how we circumnavigated the Horn on the Mary – jokingly mentioning our trip in the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia.  He indicated they are trying to work out something.  I then went on deck to read facing aft by the sports deck in sunshine.  The wind has definitely picked up as well as the waves and whitecaps and spray.  As I write this at 12:30 water is occasionally spraying to the bridge and also past my porthole.

Noon report:  They have several requests to the Chilean and Argentine authorities for alternate routes, and await permission.  52˚57.2S by 58˚45.1 W.  Course: 215˚ True; speed: 20K in temp 50˚F.  Wind –Gale Force 8 – SW or 40 knots.  60 Knots over the decks.  Rough seas, moderate southwesterly swell.  We have two albatrosses soaring with us.

I called Anita to see if she wanted to go to lunch, which we did.  We met on Upper Deck A stairway and sat at the Lees’ table, where we could watch the vigorous waves, swells, spray, spindrift and spume.  Several birds – presumably albatross or petrels were keeping pace with us, dipping, gliding and presumably fishing.  We parted afterward and I put on several layers of clothing for my “dry run” at deck watch for tomorrow.  I sat behind a ladder stack at boat 17 and stayed there watching the sun glistening and sparking as the waves crested, deepened, curled back on themselves, undulated, darkened under passing clouds, rose and fell endlessly.  I was perfectly warm, even though buffeted by the 50 mile per hour headwind.  QE2 pitches quite subtly, so it took me a while to perceive this visually as well as feel it.

At 2:30 I did go to the movie, “Evening” with Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave.

I see water spots on the bridge windows.  4:30.  I think we will be rounding Staaten Island on the outside.  Our course, 236˚ shows it at Latitude 53˚52.1 South by 60˚43.8’ West.  19.5 knots speed.

I had dinner alone at my table.  Chatted with the Lees and Sotiles, then went to the Lido.  I sat briefly with Valerie Noonan and Shirley, then moved over to be with Ann and Tony.  We talked till ten o’clock about ships, the Horn area, bell ringing, Bristol et al.

On the way along Queen’s Room and Library, I noticed a group looking at the chart case.  They have put up a real chart showing our route to Port William, back out to the Horn, around it, and back through Le Maire Strait to the East entrance of the Magellan Strait.  Different and unexpected, but I like it!   To bed after 10:30.  Still light to the West.

Saturday, 2 February: CAPE HORN DAY!

I arose around five o’clock as the dawn was well on its way; dressed in long Johns and several layers on top, took hat and mittens and rode up A lift to Boat Deck, where I found my spot on starboard under #17.  It was bitterly cold and windy for sure!  Oh yes!  I had already ascertained by the information on channel 4 that we had not gone into the Beagle Channel as planned, but had just headed west through the passage between Isla Hueva and Isla Lennox.  We headed east shortly after and faced the rising sun.  Eventually we turned south until approximately the same latitude as Cape Horn, then headed pretty much due West.  I followed this on my GPS.

At intervals I had to go inside to warm up, and found Ann and Tony Boulton.  We enjoyed hot cups of coffee in the Lido, then we parted for our individual pursuits of the day – focused on the Horn event.  From 5 a.m. to nearly eleven I remained in or near my newly re-selected chair aft on Port Boat Deck, because Tony had alerted me to the fact we would be circling the island counter clockwise, meaning the view would be on Port.  This indeed was the case, so from shortly before eleven I was busy alternating cameras to cover everything as we circumnavigated. I watched each feature from the Armada Station on a promontory to the East and a little northeast of the high slanting face on the south, then as we slowly passed along the lower sweep of the north side, we could see the memorial to the lost sailors (a huge square set like a diamond with the stencil effect of a huge albatross).  Most of the island is relatively low and absolutely treeless with only meadow-like grasses.  As we emerged on the west side, I could see a large expanse of a curved inlet and beach.  However, I also could notice various protruding rocks, which would cause great damage to any ship trying to take refuge in there.  Now we were on the southwest view of the high, rugged rock cliffs.  Looking straight on to the cliffs I could see some greenery among the crevices.  No matter how you look at it, this island is extremely formidable and in no way inviting! At one point toward the end, I shared my maps of the islands with some neighboring Brits.  When we reached Latitude 56˚59.5’ S and 067˚16’ W, the whistle was sounded to mark the moment.  Alas my camera mike didn’t get it very well.  Shortly after 12:30 I packed it all in and hastened to join the Lees for lunch in the Lido.  I had eaten breakfast at 9 with Frank and Marie on one of my warming up sessions.  Marie asked me about C.S. and prayer.

Being somewhat tired I’ll now nap as we proceed toward the Strait of Le Maire.  After this, I looked out my porthole to see that at 4:40 while we were in the Strait of Le Maire.  It appears long, hilly and very clear in the sunshiny distance.  I decided to skip dinner altogether and stayed in my cabin, knitting and simply taking it easy.  It is still light after 10 p.m.

Sunday, 3 February: Punta Arenas, Chile. 53˚11.5S x 070˚52’W

Before I forget, the reason we didn’t go into the Beagle Channel yesterday was that there was too strong a wind there (presumably a strong west wind,) which would be a strong push on the QE2 broadside while stopped at Puerto Williams, thus rendering her maneuverability quite dodgy.  Therefore the authorities gave permission to circle the Cape Horn island by word, and sent an email confirming this and rendering the formalities complete.  We certainly had a strong West wind all morning.

Now, at six a.m. we have long since entered the eastern end of the Strait of Magellan and are heading southwest toward Punta Arenas, having passed the second Augustina and Isla Isabel.  Somewhere along here I could see the orangey glow of what I think was either gas or oil burn-off.

At 7:40 we dropped anchor in 2 stages (port anchor) and up went the black anchor ball.  A strong West wind is flapping the company flag vigorously, and presumably the ship will eventually head into the wind and I’ll be able to see the town from my porthole.

Well!  So much for Punta Arenas!  The winds that are already causing the flag to flap out straight, are due to increase from the present 30 miles per hour to 60 by this afternoon, are causing the Harbor Master to forbid tenders to operate.  It was interesting to hear Captain McNaught say it was out of his hands this time, but that he concurred with the rule that they forbid tenders to operate in winds 25 K or over.  I was about to go on deck to test the temperature (which is quite mild), when the announcement came on the Tannoy.  Little general white caps are forming and ripples are becoming waves steadily, so presently we can see corroboration of the forecast.  At least the sun is shining nicely for now.

I did return to the deck and settled between boats 11 and 13 – ensconced for the day.  Some entertainers were disembarked and embarked by the harbor -master’s boat, as well as the passengers who missed us at Montevideo.   At 10:10 the anchor being up and stowed, the whistle blew 3 blasts and a tug prepared to counteract the strong wind.  Surprisingly the tug pushed on our starboard stern thus aiding our turn to starboard.  I’m sure this is because we were anchored too close to land to be able to head south along the near shore safely.  We will be doing a 360˚ starboard turn to get to the center of the Strait.  I can now see the southern expanse and two shores clear down to Point Froward – the parallel route of which I was going to do on land to Port Famine and Fort Bulnes.  Oh well, we’ll be doing the entire Strait of Magellan in daylight – a big plus as far as I am concerned.  Here comes the exposure to the strong wind, so I’ll quit for now!

I stayed on deck in the wind from weighing of the anchor to 1:30 trying to keep track of our progress past Mount Tarn, Mt. Victoria at Point Froward and onward in very strong wind head on, and being buffeted at every turn.  One cushion was blown overboard, and I saved three others by returning them to the storage shelves.  Yes, I was virtually the only person on deck all during this time! I believe I saw a williwaw and tried to film it, and also eagerly watched the windy water patterns.  At one point along the early way, I saw two canoe-like boats heading easterly, presumably depending on the strong 40-60 knot west wind to propel them.  It must have felt very cold to them!

At lunch (1:30) I sat by the window in Omar’s corner, watching the mountains, by this time quite tall, passing by.  After checking on my cabin I returned on deck aft to sit facing the stern till teatime, chatting with David from Michigan and an English couple, who were eager to read my chart.  We enjoyed humor and speculation as to where we really were.  By teatime, the ship was definitely in the English Passage and we eventually passed through the narrowest part of the Strait.  I shared happy tea chat with Anne and Tony, and have told Tony he can have the Warwick QE2 book I am supposed to receive as a participant in the SSHA special crossing events in April.

I had a chat with Rosina and Eddy plus Jean in the Queen’s Room on my way to the cabin at 5 o’clock.   The Strait has broadened, as we are now definitely parallel to Isla Desolacion, so visibility of the mountains is becoming more distant on either side.

The first half of the transit was in sunshine, but the last several miles have been foggy and wet, so when I went inside at teatime, I was very ready to give up my vigil.

Dinner with all tablemates.  Chatted briefly with the Lees – also with Bill Greenwood and Shirley plus Valerie Noonan.  The air is cold, but clearing as we come to the last of the islands on the Pacific side.  Cabin by 8:45.  9 o’clock – first Pacific swell.  What a perfect day!!!!

Monday, 4 February:

The seas calmed down overnight to the very gentle pitching as we proceeded northward along the west coast of Chile.  I arose late and only had time to wander through the shops purporting to have a sale of buy one get one free.  However, $50 for 2 QE2 beach towels seems a bit much – so I went away lightly scorning the tactics!

After briefly checking the air, which is cool in the wind, I went to the Theatre to hear Peter Crime’s lecture on Glaciers, Glaciations and Global Warming.   The power went off half way through so the lecture ended.  The 220 power came on first but the 110 which powered the mike and carousel projector didn’t.  Anita and I left and I went on starboard for warming sun in the wind.  The Officer of the Watch alerted us to the presence of whales spouting, but I failed to spot any.

Anita and I had lunch together by a window at 205.  She left early for the marine chart auction and when I was finished I checked my email.  One long one from Cherie.  I replied with news of my last three days.

More deck time, while I finished Burning Cold – about the 1980 burning and rescue of the Prinzendam passengers.   Chocolate ice cream and cabin time.  Napped.  Formal dinner. Baked Alaska parade.  Beef Wellington.  Show: tribute to modern pop.  Diva – Alfreda:  Cocoa with Boultons.  Will skip the gala Buffet.

Smooth sailing – Manifest list.

Tuesday, 5 February:

Fog Horn!  I can hear it very faintly.  I haven’t really done much today, but the list includes a frantic hunt for my special 1998 World Cruise Parker pen, to no avail.  I read more in the Voyage of the Beagle as we proceeded northward along the Chilean coastline – too far out to sea to see anything.

After the noon report on deck, I went inside to sign up for the talent show and chose “Climb Every Mountain” the line of least resistance.  My attitude is negative!

Latitude:  38˚17.2’ S by 074˚29.7’ W.  Course 015˚ True at 21 knots.  Fog-overcast; Temperature 17˚ C 64˚ F.   Wind: South at Force 3 – 10 k – 15K on deck.  Slight seas and short low southerly swell.

I sat with Roger and Janet Sockett in Victoria’s and Greg’s section by a window.  We talked about Hereford and the Three Choirs Festival among other musical topics.  I wrestled with myself whether or not to carry through and sing, but when the actual performances unfolded, it was clear I should improve the quality of singing especially the one Elvis rock and roller, who brought down the house and I felt apprehensive, but I sang with confidence and drama at the end.  Several people complimented me as I passed by later.

David showed me a new glossy book on QE2 so I went to the Library for my copy and also bought the new Queen Victoria book as well.  I hunted for Anita to no avail, so sat on port in sun and warmth to leaf through the QV book.   Anita and I did meet up at my cabin just before my dinner, and she returned my Horn book.

We ate at 293 for the last time with Jean Ollerenshaw from Dorchester, and several of us took pictures of each other with Victoria’s help and “expertise.”  Goodbyes were said; then I let Anne and Tony use up my time on the internet package.

I wandered back to the Lido and joined Marie and Frank, while they ate.  I also had a flan with them while we shared family experiences with grand children.  Marie was married before and her four children were by the first husband.  On our way we greeted Capt. McNaught at his dinner table.  I backed up and thanked him heartily for the wonderful Horn circumnavigation.  He agreed it was great and I described my first freezing circling in heavy clouds and cold 70 mph wind. I also told him of the rumor of a possible trip around Pitcairn Island, and he grinned and let it remain a rumor.  When I told him Peter Crimes had mentioned it, he said he ought to have a word with him – all in fun – I hope!

On my way to the cabin I stopped by the Library to chat with Bill Greenwood about ships – naturally.  He says the ship at anchor in Yokohama is the Hikawa Maru, the only WWII ship remaining, which wasn’t sunk during the war.   Settling in now for the night.

Wednesday, 6 February: Valparaiso, Chile – 33˚ 1.9’S x 07˚ 37.6′ W

I watched our very slow approach and equally slow and deliberate entrance between the outer jetties and Armada ships on the TV.  When I looked out the porthole, I managed to see the large tug backing away from our bow.  The harbor itself is at the “crook” end of a small cape, or Bay peninsula – or notch in the coastline.  The first indication of this was when I noticed we were headed south as we approached.

This being the end of the first major section of the cruise, 200 or so people are disembarking and nearly the same amount will embark.  My first “free” Internet package ends and I will have to log on again with a new package of 8 hours.

The bunkering barge looks like an ocean-going ship with a pointed bow.  I watched it come along side and was intrigued when a pilot boat took on two bow lines from the “ship” and backed away with the big eye-spliced ends attached.  I surmise they were going to deliver them to our bow docking deck – or to the dock itself.  Will check on this. We are docked facing northeast, and when the sun pours from between clouds it is bright through my porthole.

When I left at near nine o’clock I first walked up A to give the tips of $20 each to Victoria, Greg and Alan, then headed aft to meet Anita.  She was late arriving in Yacht Club, but I sat with Connie McMullen until her number was called.  Meanwhile Anita came and I took her Library book to return for her.  Eventually all were disembarked, and I went to the Lido, found Barbara Huff, then sat with Shirley, Dave from Calgary and later, Archie.  I was congratulated about my singing and I sang the “Mother Hubbard” for them in fragments.

On my way outside I chatted with Albert from Germany, then found my deck chair, filmed the shore scene including the two funiculars and read my Darwin – the passages dealing with Valparaiso, Chiloe Island and the earthquake.  Always most interesting when on the spot!  On the way down, I talked briefly with David Hamilton, sharing the earthquake information.

It is now almost noon, and I have returned to my cabin to prepare for lunch and my tour of Valparaiso at two o’clock.  I just checked on the two hawsers from the bunkering freighter, and they are definitely attached to our bow docking deck and the lines go closely by my porthole! I had lunch with Jenny at the Lees’ table, then I took the shuttle bus (which goes a long way along and through the cargo port to the terminal) and transferred to the smaller tour bus for my sightseeing at the Armada buildings. Sights: Pratt Monument, 2 funiculars, views over the city including the harbor, a cemetery or two, with mausoleums; walks along small streets, and Neruda’s home and museum, ending up with refreshments and a special pastie turnover by an intriguing house with Victorian Mansard decorated walls, checker patterns, bas- relief and so on.

Back at the ship I relaxed with “Message in a Bottle” until 7:30 dinner at the Lido, and hurriedly to see “Round the World in 80 Days” in the Theatre.  Better than I remembered it!  At around 7:45 the ship was backed out of the enclosed part of the harbor and we are now headed for Easter Island.  I didn’t witness this because I was bound for the Theatre.

Thursday, 7 February:

We are westbound straight for Easter Island.  We have very smooth sailing with the occasional list to port mostly, but more or less side to side.  After showering and washing, I went to Grand Lounge to read my Darwin book and the Lees came along to join me.  We exchanged our on shore activities and listened to the daily quiz.  At eleven I bought a cross stitch QE2 then joined the crowd attending the Peter Grimes’ lecture on Easter Island and Pitcairn Island and Bounty – true history.

Noon Report:  31˚50.7’ S x 079˚ W.  100 nm north of Robinson Crusoe Island or Juan Fernando Island.  Rhumb line 280k True.  25.7 knots Temp. 69˚F  Wind: Force 4 or 15 k – 30 k on deck.  Slight seas, low to moderate southerly swell.

I checked the Purser’s Office lost and found for my pen.  Alas, nothing!  I again joined Roger and Janet Sockett for lunch at their table, and they very nicely said I sang well at the talent show.

At 2:30 I saw the Charles Laughton’s Captain Bligh portrayal of “Mutiny on the Bounty” with Clark Gable.  It was entirely centered on flogging, which is entirely distorting the facts, which Peter Crimes stated.  Valerie Noonan says Peter and his wife walked out of the movie in disgust.

We now have seven at our table with the addition of John and Betty Griffiths from Melbourne.  They promise to be interesting people.  I had pea soup, romaine salad, roast beef and soufflé.  Later, when I joined the Lees, Frank, Marie and Lillian, they were talking about insects, the big kind, so I joined in with my Arizona tales.  Also my neighbors at 4019 were with us waiting for the show to begin.  She is Joan and presently I don’t remember his name.  The singer was a very competent tenor from England, Martyn Dominique.  After the show, I went to the Lido and had strawberries while talking with Marguerite and English Shirley (from Cardiff.)  Clocks back one hour.

Friday, 8 February:

My first decision of the day was made as I greeted Jenny briefly at the Golden Lion pub.  I humorously said I could go either way to give in to my vow to skip breakfast!  She described her meal and I headed forward at nine, found the Lees at the 4 table, so I naturally joined them.  I used my grapefruit spoon for the first time, and then had 2 poached eggs on toast, milk and tea.  So much for decisions made!

I attended the air traffic controller’s lecture as well as the Peter Quartermaine one supposedly on Easter Island, but it dealt more with the artist Hodges who was on Cook’s 2nd voyage.  My pen ran out so I borrowed Anne’s, then bought a new blue QE2 pen at the Library.

Noon Report:  30˚4’ S by 091˚03.2’ W: Rhumb line 280˚, 24.3 knot; 940 nm to go to Easter Island.  Temp. 23.5C or 74˚ F.  Wind: South @ Force 4 –14k  or 25k over decks.  Slight sea, average, moderate southwesterly swell.

I sat under boat 19 on Boat Deck in too much sun till 12:30.   Had lunch again with the Socketts.  On deck the warm clear atmosphere beckoned me to find a chair that stays upright in shade under boat 13 for a good reading session, but after an hour or so, the movie,  ”Nanny Diaries” won the struggle!

By the way, the Captain confirmed that we will indeed be stopping by Pitcairn Island, some inhabitants will embark ad will sell trinkets while we circumnavigate the island – twice.  Yippee!

Had dinner with all the tablemates.  I spent a while on deck listening to the water sounds and watching the distant cloud formations in balmy, light wind effect over the deck.  About then the sun set directly in our path, but since I was sitting facing north, I didn’t see it as such!  Before going below I had ice cream and cookies in the Lido.

I checked my email, but first had to “buy” the 8 -hour package.  However, after writing an account of the last few days, the box came up saying I had used 5 hours of the 8 hours, and only had 2 some hours left.  Grrr!  I went to the Purser’s office but I have to take it up with the person in charge of the Computer Room.  Grrr!   Back to the cabin before ten o’clock.

Saturday, 9 February:

It was still fairly dark when I awoke after seven o’clock, showing the reason we will have an hour back tonight.  I checked our position near Easter Island and found we are directly below Arizona, but an hour ahead of Cape Cod.  Weird!  Anyway, I trudged to the Computer room with my written complaint about the package, and the attendant is ill!  It will have to wait.  I had a brief juice breakfast with Rosemary and a Brit named Molly, then chose a deck chair under boat 11 to read till the lecture on building cruise ships by Quartermaine.

Noon report:  28˚26’S by 101˚49.5 W.  Speed: 27.5 mph (or 24K, average 24.6K’

Temp. 25˚ C or 78˚ F.  Wind: East F4 – 15K on deck 25k; slight seas, short, low southwest swell.  The Captain said the weather will be perfect tomorrow, but the swell remains to be seen, if we can go ashore.  A pilot will be on each tender to guide the boats safely to the pier, which can accommodate only one boat at a time.  Be patient!  This is how to pronounce my steward’s name:  Andriys.

I had lunch alone at a port table for 4.  Saw a flying fish doing a phenomenally long flight away from the ship.   I knitted in the cabin all afternoon till dinner with all my mates.

My neighbors at 4019 are Christine and Les, and I chatted with them as well as the usual friends in our corner of the Grand Lounge.  The singer, Lorraine Brown, a Brit was very silvery, flashy and sang recent pop songs very well – with style!

I lingered a while on deck in the late evening light before sunset as QE2 gently proceeded westward across the sun’s angle path.  The observation deck is open.

Clocks back another hour, which puts us on Eastern Standard time (way west of that geographical time line.  The Captain says we will have a good day tomorrow, sun and low swell!

Sunday, 10 February: Easter Island

Rapa Nui, Isla de Pascua:  27˚8.5S x 108˚26.5W

The anchor went down close to seven o’clock in semi-darkness.  The time is way off in comparison to what I am used to.  Strange!  The sun rose over the island after 0800.

Based on observations from Boat Deck it looks to be a painfully slow process of getting ashore.  Only the smaller tenders are being used and only one at a time can enter the small channel (over the barrier reef) and unload at a time.  It appears as though a full tender has to pause way out and proceed only when the previous tender comes out.  As for views of the island itself, it is directly in the sun’s light path so morning photography from the ship is difficult.  One can see the occasional single Moai, and to the left and on a rise due east can be seen the 5 or 7 Moais facing us.

It took a long time to go ashore, since we had to take a numbered ticket (16 for me) and I had to wait till nearly noon to leave the ship.  Once ashore I walked around the harbour, watching the locals swimming in the harbour water, displaying their crafts for sale, riding their horses for hire, trying to interest people in sightseeing by bicycle or car.  – Ahu Riata was the Moai greeting us at the harbour.  Finally, my tour “Ancient Civilizations” began with a caravan of 5 vans riding up hill to the volcano, Rano Kau where we saw the crater lake, dotted with little islands and brilliant turquoise blue “puddles” of fresh water; the deep crater side and great view all over the island.  We learned about the Birdman Culture, wherein they had an annual swimming race to secure the first egg on Moto Nui, or Moto Iti, or Moto Caocao.  The story has been handed down by oral tradition.  Priests dwelt at the Orongo round village, which overlooks the three islands.  Vinapu: platforms with toppled Maoi.  Ahu Akini: 7 Moai lined up and restored.  On the way back we caught a glimpse of several Moai with topknots.

It didn’t take very long to board the tender and return to the ship, via the same narrow channel, past 3 pointed rock hazards and back on board by six o’clock.  I was so filthy with fine sand and dust from the dirt roads that I had to shower before dinner.  We left the anchorage during dinner, leaving Easter Island to port.  I returned to my cabin quite exhausted. Clocks back an hour.

Monday, 11 February:

I awoke very early and felt a little more ship motion, meaning the swells must be fairly large.  I wrote two post cards to the family, and went back to sleep till after nine, when I headed first for the Computer for help logging on for the new package.  Since there were so many people there and waiting I didn’t stay to really log on.  Instead I took my post cards to the Purser’s Office, which was jumping for business.  I then had breakfast of fruits, toast, juice and tea in the Lido.  During my wanderings, I sat with Archie, puzzling over the daily quiz.  Saw Anne and Tony on Boat Deck inner promenade and discussed our tour.  They liked it.  At the Crimes’ lecture (full Theatre), I lent them the Easter Island map.

Noon Report:  The Captain says we will be at Pitcairn tomorrow by ten o’clock when the islanders will come aboard from Bounty Bay.  We will circle twice at approximately .8 miles away.  Talk in Theatre and selling in Grand Lounge.

26˚13.9S by 118˚28.9’W :  Course 277˚True;  Speed: 28K  25K over decks.

Temp. 26˚C – 79˚F.  Wind E at F4 – 15K.  Set clocks two hours back tonight to coincide with Pitcairn Island time.

Again, I had lunch with the Socketts, then found myself a deck chair to read most of the afternoon my new selection, The Plimsoll Sensation. At four o’clock the deck stewards brought tea and sandwiches and cakes, which tempted me.  I indulged, then left because the sun finally caught up with me.

On the way downstairs I logged on for my email, but while composing, the Internet satellite went down.  I had to quit alas, so went on down to 4017.   I knitted a long time after deciding I would eat at the Lido.  Presidents’ Day Celebration.  I sat with Bill Noonan who told me of his visit to Pitcairn several years ago.  It is a British possession but New Zealand is the administrator.  We then moved over to join Bill Greenwood and Marguerite, and the usual topic of ships booked, cruises and single fares, versus double for one person.

On my way back down, I passed through the Grand Lounge where a woman pianist was playing.  I then spent time on Boat Deck as the darkness was closing to the west, and the crescent moon was about 45˚ from setting. (Waxing).  Clocks to be set back 2 hours tonight.

Tuesday, 12 February:  Pitcairn Island: 25˚3’S x 130˚8’W

Two times around the island, counter clockwise.  I was right!

The whole morning dealt exclusively on our approach to Pitcairn Island, the arrival of the longboat full of 29 people laden with their crafts, stamps, and books.  They set up all over the Grand Lounge and the passengers flocked all over.  I heard the Captain say the QE2 has never visited this island and I did a silent cheer for him!

After one complete turn around Pitcairn I went inside to have my passport stamped for $5.00 to the islanders.  I went below to rest until lunchtime, when I ascertained we must be on the third round.  While eating, the longboat left and the whistle blew three times.  We’re now on our way again.

I napped a long time while the great-great-great grandson gave a talk with slides on Pitcairn – on TV.   I then attended the Ensemble cocktail party in Yacht Club, then fell asleep back in the cabin.  Andree gave me 3 chocolates and I’m now in for the night.

Clocks back one hour again.   The invitation to the World Cruise Dinner came.  It will be on Tuesday, 25 March at the Honolulu Convention Center.  My neighbors in 4019 are Christine and Les from England.

Wednesday, 13 February:

I grabbed the opportunity of using a relatively free computer room to log on.  Cherie asked many questions about Easter Island and Pitcairn, so I waxed eloquent with my “vast” knowledge.  HA HA!   Then, when I went to breakfast I sat with a nice lady from New Zealand, who is a sailor and has crewed for some of the New Zealand greats like Russell Coutts.  We shared experiences, humble though mine may be.  The rest of the morning I was under Boat 14 on port reading the Plimsoll Sensation. and escaping the showers.  Also while there I saved two papers from blowing out of the scuppers.  I moved fast while the German lady looked at them in dismay!  She thanked me profusely!

Tony and Anne came by to inquire where I’ve been, so I told them of my retreat from causing consternation while coughing and sneezing.  Will see them at dinner.  Had a brief conversation with Rosina on the way down to my cabin. She is forward Port on One Deck, and later I learned she and Eddy are in 1012, the cabin Aunt Audrey and I had in 1987 on our first Trans Atlantic Crossing.

Noon Report:  20˚41’ S by 140˚52.9’ W;  Course 291˚;  Speed: 27.5K; Temp 83˚F; Wind: NE at Force 3 – 10 Knots, 25K over the decks.  Slight seas, short, low northeasterly swell.

Elizabeth, my new friend from New Zealand joined me for lunch and we headed for the Soketts’ table.  We all had a lively time being catty about some passengers!
The Cat Lady” – failed plastic surgery.  Mary Mastony and then Christopher Biggins – a Pantomime personality.  We got a little raucous.  Victoria joined us with her two cents

When I checked in with the Lees, and I reported our conversation, Margaret brightened up when I mentioned Christopher Biggins.  Even Eric perked up.  They had been trying to think of his name.  I then attended the movie “In the Valley of Elah”  – ugh.

I have placed a standing order for chicken Caesar salad till further notice.  I joined hundreds of Platinum and Diamond people for the gala cocktail party – slipping in the back way.  Chatted briefly with Anne and Tony, then joined the Lees and Lillian for the rest of the time, but left before the Captain spoke, so I could watch the lecture on Gardiner’s QE2 ship designs – and eventually the Crimes lecture on Volcanoes etc.  (The latter was replaced by the cooking session.  Clocks back another hour.

Thursday, 14 February:  Papeete, Tahiti:  17˚32.25’S by 149˚34.2W:

The MAXIM GORKIY entered the harbor before us, our bow at a fair distance.  It has taken me a while to realize subtle changes have taken place in regard to smoke free areas.  Now, completely smoke free areas include the Lido, Crystal Bar and the Pavilion.  Also from 7 – 9 p.m. the Princess Grill Lounge is smoke free for all QE2 passengers.

I awoke very early again and as we approached the harbor, I went to Boat Deck and Observation Deck to see the Pilot boat deliver the Pilot and to watch our very slow progress to and through the narrow channel between the red marker to port and the green one to starboard (just the opposite from USA).  To Port the swells were dashing against the sea wall and to Starboard the same swells were breaking over the barrier reef.  An outrigger canoe “raced” us as we entered.  A tug was awaiting our arrival and that is when I left for breakfast on my own at table 255 and next to John and Betty.

At 8:30 I reported to Yacht Club and 30 minutes later we the Ensemble World Explorers boarded two buses, one a regular touring bus and the second, a regular local transport bus for our full day tour, consisting of the following sites:  Tahiti Museum – Cook Anchor., Fern Grotto, Gauguin Restaurant, Gauguin Museum, Botanical Gardens, and Marai.  We returned to the ship by five o’clock.  By the way, as we stood at the bow waiting for the buses, I noticed what appears to be a dent way up top of the curved and flared bow.  It has been repaired but bumpy rust is trying to press through. I wonder when that happened in the course of her nearly 40 years.

I have ascertained for sure the hatch rattle is a little aft of my cabin and on Six Deck, because the trash was being off loaded while I waited in line to re-enter the ship.

After briefly resting, I went to dinner, resigned to the fact I should be there because of the Caesar salad order.  Victoria wasn’t there and things were uncoordinated in this regard, so the entrée salad came late.  I cancelled any further salads.  Each woman was presented with a rose, and our table was the only one on starboard side to have a lovely three-dimensional heart with cupids on either side.  The only other one we could see was diagonally across from us on the port side.  We took photos of each other with the heart and roses.

As I headed aft to see the Lees, I spotted two significant photos of the New York 3 ship rendezvous and bought them on the spot.  Next I photographed the Valentine decorations in Queen’s Room.   During dinner, QE2 sounded her whistle, backed away from the pier and turned around in the harbor to head out the channel in the darkness of seven o’clock.  Victoria cut her foot on the coral while swimming at Moorea.

Friday, 15 February:

The sea has been nearly placid all day as we’ve been majestically sailing on our course 259˚ True toward Tonga.    I skipped breakfast so had to fill in some time before the ten o’clock lecture on Bette Davis’ life and career, so I did email check in the Business Center and changed a $20 bill for as many ones.  I then stopped briefly in Grand Lounge to read the British and Australian newspapers, then went to the Theatre.

Christopher Biggins later talked about his life and career.  He was raised and educated in Salisbury and given elocution lessons.  Anne and Tony sat with me.  I then found a deck chair (or two different ones) to await the noon report and read till lunch.

The Captain was clear about our approach to the International Dateline tomorrow, and Sunday will be tomorrow.  Noon report:  19˚09.9’S by 156˚56.7 W; Course: 259˚True: Speed: 25.3Knots; Wind Force 2 from Northeast at 5 knots.  Seas smooth, northeast low swell.  Tonga GMT plus 13.

I was joined by three Aussies from the Brisbane area and we had lively discussions re: politics, especially and Scotland, which is where the gentleman is originally from.   For a short time before the 2:30 movie I had a rice pudding in the Lido, chatting with Shirley Warren.  BEN HUR was very long, but I am glad I saw it after more than 50 years.  I ate dinner on my own in the Lido and then sat on the side of Grand Lounge to hear the “Rat Pack” singer, Gary Williams from Grimsby.  He was quite good, but I tired of always hearing song excerpts.   I left early to walk the deck and lingered a while to watch the moon behind cloud fragments.  Back in the cabin I watched Christopher Biggins’ talk again.  On Channel 6 we were told to set our clocks ahead 24 hours!  HA HA!

Sunday, 17 February:

I have officially crossed the International Dateline, where it has been drawn to accommodate the various island countries in their groups.  Actually we are only at 165˚ 35.1 West by 20˚26’ South.  15˚ ahead of the fact.

Inspired by the thought of blueberry pancakes, I went to Omar’s section and sat at my 255 table with Roger and Janet Sockett.  Then the rest of the morning saw me reading.  I sat under boat 12.  Noon Report:  20˚45’S by 167˚51.8 W.  Course: 262˚ @ 25K; Temp. 28˚C or 82˚ F.  Wind: ESE F3 at 10K or 25K o deck.  Slight seas, short, low easterly swell.  The Officer of the Watch always ends his report “Aboard the marvelous QE2.”

The lecture on Gene Kelly was great with clips of his dancing with the various partners and his humble and humorous acceptance speech.  I had lunch with the Socketts at their table.  Greek salad and pasta (most hot spices!)

I sent Wendy Crapo an email.  I hadn’t really planned to spend the whole afternoon in my cabin, but I fell asleep with the TV on and awoke around 3:30 – and remained knitting and watching a movie still time to dress formal for dinner.  All seven of us were present at the table.

I chatted briefly with the Lees, telling them of the oil painting on Deck 2 B stairway.  Marie and Frank went to see it, agreeing it is mysterious.  (Every time I reach the top of B stairway on Two Deck, I have to pause to contemplate this obscure oil painting, which I have dubbed “The Lee Shore,” because two schooners are definitely washed ashore, and people are coming along the beach either to help or to scavenge.  I question if perhaps “Mooncussers” have signaled the ships to an erroneous light beam, thus duping the captains into running aground.  I’ll never know, alas.  There is no signature visible.)  After the show by the multiple instrument player, I communed with the moon, then watched “The Bourne Ultimatum” till eleven o’clock.  Clocks back another hour!

Before I go to sleep I must comment on the near silence I am experiencing at the moment.  The sea is so calm; nearly flat in fact, that I notice almost no motion.  The usual creaks are very sporadic and subtle.  The quiet passing of water sounds heard through the hull and porthole are like a gentle brooklet.  The moon’s light is brightening not only the foredeck and details, but also the water as well as distant clouds on the horizon (this seen on the TV screen.)   What a wonderful lullaby!  The moon itself is shining into my porthole!   Rapture!

Monday, 18 February: Nuku’alofa, Tonga. 21˚9’S by 175˚ 10.7W

I grabbed All-Bran and milk for breakfast before reporting to the Theatre for my tour.  The tender ride was smooth and quick to the staging area and we were herded to our open-air school bus for the trip to “King’s Palace” (under extensive reconstruction), royal tombs, various churches, King’s Summer residence, blowhole, bat roosting and Cultural center, where we saw dancing, singing and craft demonstrations, plus cooking techniques.  We were back at the ship by 1:30 and I had a quick lunch of tuna, tomato and asparagus, then pasta with tomato sauce and smoked salmon.

I returned to the cabin to rest and putter, and slept and knitted till dinner, which was shared with all but the Boultons.   Julia Daniels, the soprano from Sydney, was very good and animated, if not a bit showy in gestures.   On deck I lingered by the railings listening to the soft water sounds as we ploughed gently through the moonlit placidness, while QE2 pitched very slightly.  I then went to the movie, “Into the Wild,” based on a novel by Jon Krackauer.  Apparently Christopher McCandless was a real person, which made the story all the more poignant as it unfolded.  I got to bed after midnight.  An invitation from David Hamilton for cocktails tomorrow night awaited me.

Tuesday, 19 February:

Having passed 23˚ S, (Capricorn) @ 24˚), we are heading into more comfortable climes on our course toward New Zealand.  I have again taken up Darwin to review his experiences there.

Only yesterday did I discover or better said, “realize” my ship/s ID card is valid through to Southampton!  Great!  We have to collect our Passports to keep from now on.

I arrived at breakfast near nine o’clock, in time to join the Socketts and Elizabeth from New Zealand as they finished their repast.  We compared our Tonga experiences, and when we discussed Auckland newspaper coverage, I gave them my card, which prompted Elizabeth to ask me about voice and the care of it.   She is proud of Kiri Te Kanawa.  When we parted, I headed to Peter Crime’s lecture on New Zealand followed by Chris Biggins’ lecture on his jungle TV series.

Noon Report:  25˚23.3’S by 178˚23.7’ W:  Course: 209˚ True. Speed: 19K; Wind: ESE Force 6 = 25 K or 40 K over the decks.  Temp: 26˚C, 80˚F. Moderate to rough seas, short low southeast swell.  I would say more.

The Black Watch was right with us way off to Port.  Now:  Back in the cabin, I can see and hear the spray slapping the porthole as the waves rise with the pitching and plowing along.  The wind must be blowing the spray right back to the hull.  The Captain said we have to go through this low to reach the high we will have when we arrive in Auckland.

I had lunch with Betty and John, during which we discussed their offspring (5), involvement with music.  I noticed the seas calming down as we ate.  Before the movie “Double Indemnity” with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyk, I collected my Passport and checked on my status for the April 12-18 voyage, and we are all squared away clear through to Southampton.

Now, at 4:30 the sun is shining brightly into my cabin and the seas are definitely calmer.  I knitted for several hours till 7:30 when I decided I won’t want to dress formal for David Hamilton’s party at Yacht Club, so I remained where I was, watching BBC plus Australian broadcasts – finally an alternative to the wretched Fox channel we had to endure for the last few weeks – since Chile and the Horn.  I can even see a soap opera, “Home and Away.”

At four in the morning, the nearly full moon was shining in my cabin and the light shaft reached into the bathroom!  It appeared we were constantly crossing its watery path.

Wednesday, 20 February:

Latitude 30˚ 46.7 S.  It should be substantially cooler this morning as we continue to head southwest toward (209˚) New Zealand.  It is sunny though and the seas are only slight.

I joined Beth at breakfast in Omar’s section, then checked the weather on deck.  Although cooler it was still comfortable, so I settled under boat 12 for over an hour to read my book, but all was not comfort since drops occasionally dropped on my book and my head.  The water was that lovely nautical blue with white caps, and interestingly, the wind appeared to come from behind as we headed southwest.

Christopher Biggins gave his third lecture about the “King of the Jungle,” which was revolting as well as spell binding.  Lots of laughs!

Noon Report:  32˚02’ S x 177˚ E.  Note: we have crossed the real Dateline: the precise time we crossed was 9:25 last night.  Longitude 180˚ and 28˚1 S:  Course: 209˚ True.  Speed: 18.5 K:  Temp. 20˚C and 93˚ F. Wind: SE Force 5 – 20K and 30K over decks.  Moderate seas, and short, low southeast swell.

Ate lunch with Bill Greenwood at the Lido.  Both of us don’t know what we’ll do when QE2 is gone.   I returned to a deck chair on portside with my ice cream cup – to read.  However, the wind was a bit cool, so I returned to my cabin, escaping from the sounds of the musical hype and upcoming Tug of War.  The rest of the afternoon I sewed up the two doll torsos while watching Rebecca.

Only John and Betty Griffiths were with me at dinner, and again I returned to my cabin to continue my knitting and watching the Australian channel till time for bed.  The program on the Great Barrier Reef was most interesting, colorful, intriguing and scary, because all sorts of man-caused problems are threatening most aspects of the Reef.