Saturday, 22 of June of 2024

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 6

Los Angeles to New York

Sunday, 30 March: Los Angeles, San Pedro: 33˚44.8′ N x 228˚ 16.5′ W

I couldn’t sleep till about three in the morning, but when I awoke at seven, we were docked at piers 91 and 92 as usual for San Pedro.   I emerged near nine o’clock to link with Lees for their phone call.  We had to go aft by the sports deck to get away from the roar of action dockside.

My family arrived about ten o’clock and they took me to the “Queen Mary” for the buffet brunch in the First Class dining room.  Emily and Dave met us and we all stuffed to the hilt!  After a search for a Staples with the aid of Christopher’s GPS, Emily and David brought me back to the QE2.

I had a nap, then went to tea.  I joined Anne, Tony, Ken and Jill to compare our visits to the “Queen Mary, “where they looked for me and family in the First Class dining room, but apparently we had already gone.

When approaching the time for us to depart, and the safety drill for the newcomers was over, the Captain announced we will be able to sound our whistle after all, and the fun began!  The “Vision of the Seas” backed away from Pier 93 and just under the Harbor Bridge, having sounded its whistle (not a bad sound) and using its azipods unassisted.  It passed by us and between the Evergreen containership on the side of the channel opposite us.  We then sounded our deep toned whistle three times with 2 added boops, and were pulled sideways from the Pier s 91-92, set for the long backing maneuver tethered to a tug which helped keep us in the middle of the channel as we “receded” backward past the shore developments – around the corner turn, by Ports o’ Call and on out as a Container ship also moved out ahead of us from the south channel.  Hundreds of people stationed themselves to see us off, wave, cheer and we also could hear a band playing although I couldn’t locate it.  Along the way boats were moored, two beautiful clipper bow Brigantines, a schooner and a ketch (I think).

As we cleared the docks, etc. we turned on both bow and stern to head out forward to and through the jetty ends on the pretty lighthouse.  As I gazed off toward Long Beach, I could just see the huge, new Carnival Lines terminal, and just to the left the three “Queen Mary” funnels were visible briefly before various cargo cranes obscured them.

It seems as though each time I am in San Pedro there is an exciting entrance or exit!  1. Turn around in the confined space, 2. “Queen Mary 2” backing in on her own. 3.  Turning around in fog with twenty feet to spare and now, 4. QE2 backing out with tugs to aid her.  GREAT STUFF!

Our whistle sounded at least three sets of three and boops, and maybe more.  Since I was aft most of the time I may have missed one.

Jannie and I had dinner together in the Lido, then parted.  I to my cabin, and she went to check out the show.  481 people disembarked today, and over 500 embarked.

Monday, 31 March:

My first order of the day was to visit the Baggage Master to work out the process for sending one suitcase home from New York.  We think it can be done by going through the customs with declaration as though I am disembarking, then returning to the ship as an in transit passenger.

After a brief chat with Eric and Margaret about our departure last night, I joined Jannie for the Astronomy lecture followed by noon report on a chilly Boat Deck.  Following sea and swell.  Captain Perkins said 60 passengers embarked without luggage because of the BA Terminal 4 baggage train no-function!

27˚18’N x 115˚ 11.5’ W.  Rhumb line 144˚ True. 25.1 Knots (23.6 average)  Temp: 21.5C = 70˚ F (feels much cooler).  Wind: Northwest Force 5 = 21 K.  18K over decks.  Slight seas, short northwest swells.

For a while I sat with the Boultons,  and Ken and Jill in the Board Room talking about what to see in Acapulco, then we went on deck to look for wildlife.  Jill got her telescope, but I had to leave for lunch with Jannie at one o’clock.  We ate at a table for two on Portside of Mauretania.  Movie:  “It Happened One Night.”  Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

Tea with Jannie.  Talk with John Waterfield about the last Talent Show.  Dinner with my mates minus Audrey.

Jannie saved me a seat as usual while I talked with Margaret and Marie about a special navigation book on the Malacca Strait.  They will let me consider it.  Archie Cooper is back on the ship and will be on to Southampton.  He got the booking at the last minute and we sat with him in the Lido for the goodnight tea and Horlicks.  Clocks ahead one hour.

Tuesday, 1 April:

The webcam is showing crystal clear puffy clouds and great plunges into massive swells and spray flying over the bow with sheets of water dripping down the bridge windscreen.  Alas! It is only April Fools!  Actually we are majestically proceeding on our southwesterly course along Mexico’s shoreline (of course not visible).  126˚ heading.

My first chore was to deliver my two “Boys” to the Cruise staff office with their directions for the auction.  I then settled into a deck chair under boat ten or so for a couple of hours in still mild but brisk air.  At eleven I sat with Anne and Tony for the Acapulco lecture.

Noon Report:  20˚23.8’ N  107˚ 16.8’ W:  Course: 125˚ True.  25.2K.  Temp: 27˚C – 80˚ F.  Wind: North northwest at Force 3 = 7 knots.  18 knots on deck.  Slight seas, short low northwest swell.

I checked on the very specialized book on navigation around the Malacca Strait area, noting details of piracy dangers and recommendations of caution,  then flipped through the current charts, weather charts and wind charts.  I noted this (2006) book has come from the Bridge, so I think they are unloading items they won’t ever need again.  The CD is gone, but I expect someone up there wants it.

Lunch with Jannie – short stay on deck reading Bill Bryson, then I watched the special Australian movie “December Boys” with Daniel Radcliffe.  It was moving at the end when the four orphans, Mops, Spits, etc. realize they are family and remained so all their lives.  I met up again with Jannie at tea and returned on deck for an hour or so till I became too cool.  Trying to stuff the large knitted dog and running out of the stuff caused me to quit the project altogether.  By the way, Warren and Simon did their show dressed with Antarctic outfits – a part of the tricky day!

Wednesday, 2 April: Acapulco: 16˚50.7N x 099˚53.3′ W.

The sound of the anchor woke me near seven o’clock but fortunately I was able to go back to sleep till the phone rang at 8:45.  Don’t know who was calling.

Jannie and I met at the Lido, because her tour was cancelled so we ate in the Pavilion and eventually took the tender to the terminal where I browsed and she phoned home.  I returned to the ship, way ahead of her and kept cool in my cabin, dozing off till time to meet her at one o’clock.  We had a large square table for two by a starboard window looking toward shore.  I saw the “Nannie Diaries” and again met Jannie at teatime, where we were joined by Jill Halpin who had managed, with Ken, Tony and Anne to get a boat to a bird sanctuary island.  We discussed birds in general and eventually, Jill and I exchanged addresses.  She also tried to fix Jannie’s phone, but we don’t know if it works.  Later Tony joined us with a report of his and Ken’s adventure in old Acapulco, guided by a “guide” who wanted a tip!

As we neared time for departure, I had to search many places (had to weave around restricted deck areas, while tenders were being shipped for a deck chair, which I found on Port behind the long banner “Keep 50 meters away.”  I read my book until I was able to undo the clove hitches holding the banner – to help speed the take down process.  The whistle sounded the three plus two boops, and we turned out the bay.  I watched us sail past the hills, hotels, big inlet, mountain, peninsula and, in the distance, the long low peninsula with hotels that reflected the setting sun.

O my way down to dress for dinner, I had occasion to stick my head into cabin 4012.  I found a very tiny one with two bunks and around the door corner.  I saw the old style bathroom with old sink, old shower with gray and aluminum framing, and no door, plus the old beat up linoleum floor curled up at the edges!  It must be for a crew duo because I can’t imagine selling that to a passenger!

I joined Jannie at the Lido for Mexican dinner (not much could pass for ethnic), then we went to hear the show.  It was a substitute couple, Mickey Finn and wife Kathy Reilly Finn on piano and banjo respectively.  Both were old show biz pros from Las Vegas, network TV and so on.  Very virtuoso and flamboyant.  We parted and I went forward on balmy Boat Deck to hear the passing water, see stars and sit a while.  Back to my cabin by nine forty-five.

Thursday, 3 April:

At last I awoke at a reasonable time, showered and emerged in time to share breakfast with Anne and Tony, then I timed my arrival at the Theatre for Peter Crimes’ talk on the Panama Canal and the Astronomy lecture.  We got out a little early, so I went on deck in anticipation of the whistle and noon report.  However, excitement preceded this when a sudden strong wind from the north swooped down on us.  I enjoyed watching the smooth sea start to ripple, then small waves developed and little ripples of foam, then I noticed the long bubble streaks.  When the whistle did sound it sounded louder I thought.  The Captain mentioned the wind as something like Ghouwontapeck off the land and it is expected to continue, till when the land begins to cool down.

Noon report:  13˚ 09.2’N  93˚ 25.5’ W.  Temp: 30.8˚ C – 87.2˚ F.  Wind:  North, Force 5 = 24k or 35-40 knots over decks.  Seas are slight, and short, low northerly swells.

I remained on deck reading and enjoying the windy air till time to join Jannie for lunch in Mauretania.  I had a Cobb salad, but was not thrilled.  Email check produced Beth Schmidt’s reply to my question April 22.  US Air 2126 – from LaGuardia, at twelve noon.  Boston 1:10 p.m. Pier 92  I still need to know my QM2 cabin assignment.

At two I saw “Jaws” for the first time, and that was followed by more than an hour of Questions and Answers with Richard Dreyfus.  When I left before the session was over.  I decided to walk the deck.  The wind has abated and the air is very comfortable.  On my way I talked briefly with Jannie but continued on and headed down to my cabin.  I found a thank you note for my help at the Fayre. Also invitations to Ensemble cocktail party and party at Queen’s Room. By Captain Perkins, John Duffy and Chief Engieer Paul Yeoman, tomorrow.  Dinner with only Audrey; We both wished we had gone to the Lido!

I chatted briefly with the Lees about 4012 – then crossed over to the other side, pausing briefly to joke with Archie.  Jannie, Audrey and I sat together to see the Ventriloquist.  Ok I guess.  After tea in the Lido with Jannie, I returned home via Boat Deck.  Some of us up there did a bit of star- gazing.  After my usual water gazing up forward I headed downward.

Clocks ahead one hour.  We are now on Eastern Standard Time, but they are daylight savings so I have one more hour to go.

Friday, 4 April:

I awoke close to nine o’clock, and I gauged my preparations to emerge in time for the ten o’clock lecture by Carol Thatcher.  On the way out I asked Andre about 4012 and he confirmed it is a crew cabin.  Jannie was already in the Theatre as were the Lees with whom I had a chat.  Jannie left after Carol’s talk, but I remained for the intensely serious and passionate talk by Richard Dreyfus on what we must teach our generations about the American heritage and purpose to highlight what we stood for and stand for and hope to keep it alive.

Noon Report:  08˚35.6’N x 084˚ 54.4’ W off Costa Rica:  Rhumb line 119˚ at 25.7 knots and average of 24.9 knots.  Temp: 30.5˚ C – 87˚ F.  Wind: calm.  26 knots over the decks.

I walked up to observation deck to see the placid water and feel the welcome wind caused by our forward motion.  Boobies were reported but I saw none.  I returned briefly to my cabin to “regroup” (a term Jannie has laughingly adopted), until time to meet her at one o’clock for lunch.  We went to sit with Janet and Roger, and my pasta order was twice inadequately laced with vegetables and later, chicken.  My consolation was a gooey chocolate cupcake with ice cream!

We parted and I went immediately to the Grand Lounge to preview and photograph the marine items for auction.  The rest is captured in the actual auction figures I recorded as it went along.  My dolls only netted $130, a disappointing figure for all that work, but never again will I do that work anyway!

I met Jannie for coffee and tea.  While waiting for her, I saw dolphin rushing away from the ship, while birds were flapping and gliding along with us.  We both went on deck to enjoy the warm air.  I found a chair up forward on Port and read till five o’clock when all of a sudden I realized I should be at the Ensemble cocktail party in Yacht Club.  I sat with Valerie Bennetts, Marguerite and other regulars while Glen welcomed us and invited Peter Crimes to give us a brief biography of himself. He met Ingrid while lecturing on a P&O ship.

I returned to the cabin at six o’clock and remained till 7:30 when the triple hosted gala cocktail party by Captain Perkins, John Duffy and Chief Engineer Paul Yeoman would begin.  I took pictures of the special cake and posters, then ate my favorite shrimps while sitting with a group of Americans and Brits.  Soon after the Captain spoke I ducked out for the Lido where I had strawberries and ice cream with Jannie.  We moved on to the Grand Lounge to hear Isobel Cooper, known as Izzy sing her operatic arias and show tunes very well.

I went on my own to Boat Deck to revel in the evening tropical air, cooled mainly by our forward motion and stars both north and south.  Lido stop. Chat with Joan and John Waterfield before retreating to my cabin.  Shower, washing and bed in preparation for the last Panama Canal transit. 7˚ 2.8N at eleven thirty as we turn north to Gulf of Panama.

Saturday, 5 April: Panama Canal Transit: 8˚ 59.3′ N.

As I write this at 6:40 we are being guided and moved slowly into the right hand side of the Mira Flores locks on the Pacific side of the canal to start our day-long transit.  I am staying in my cabin to observe from my porthole.  We have already passed under the Bridge of the Americas at Balboa.  As we imperceptibly creep along the center guiding “jetty” the men in the rowboat head under our bow to catch the lead lines for delivery to the lock sides.  Swing bridge open on both sides. I wonder how often it closes with so much shipping traffic going by!

The following is my study of the approach and workings as observed from my porthole.  7:25 water flowing out in front of our bow at the bottom lock gate independent of the left Mira Flores lock.  7:35 – gates opening.  Four Deck well below top of the lock.  I can’t see the top of the chamber!  It appears that the bow well is level with the chamber sides.  As we proceeded into the lock I could see the immense lock gate of iron and rivets way up and way down to the water level.  The walls are of textured concrete marked in huge block sections (chunks of rock embedded).  Built in rod ladders.  The mules (the diesel engines) keep the ship precisely placed amid the lock fore and aft, the  cables being at right angles to the ship.  We moved forward within the lock.  The mules stopped and we continued slowly forward.  How” Our own engines I guess.

There are red and blue tell-tale scrapes along the way!  We stopped with the bow very close to the lock gate.  The water started to raise the ship and the darkness of down there gradually lightened on the rise and soon the morning sun peered through my porthole.  The workers walked across the lock gate to and from work at eight o’clock, presumably the shift change.  There was a pause in the rise, then it started again till full.  8:23.  The gates opened to the second lock and we entered.  There are two lock gate stations on this one.  We had a relatively swift entry, and on the way in I noted a third lock gate more or less in the middle of the length (wide open of course).  8:50 we exited this pair and headed for Pedro Miguel lock a little ahead.  At this time I left my cabin for outside observations.  The port side (shaded) of the Boat Deck was solid with people in their chairs eating heaped up breakfast hoards!  I observed with the crowd up forward so headed inside aft to catch a bite in the Lido.  Sat with Marguerite and later Anne and Tony.  My wanderings began then as I stayed in the cool inner areas.

As we progressed and were through Pedro Miguel lock, I found the Lees in Crystal Bar Port side and lingered to observe the Centennial Bridge (cantilevered) then the Gaillard cut where lots of shoring up and terracing is continually under way.  Eventually, I caught up with Jannie (writing post cards to mail) then we had lunch together in the Mauretania while gazing at the many island tufts and jungle around Gatun Lake.  We had already noted we were late off schedule.  I went down to “regroup” and while there at two o’clock the Captain came on the Tannoy to confirm what I observed ahead.  A ship traffic jam!!!  Four ships are ahead of us.  We are having to stand still as well as avoid oncoming ships picking their way through the jam.  I can count ten ships to our starboard and ahead, and meanwhile the Captain and Pilot must be having a very challenging time to use side thrusters and twin screws to keep us in position.

At this point I went on deck to observe for over an hour and having passed the Gatun earth dam, at three thirty we are only poised at the top of the top Gatun Lock, waiting for the top two gates to open after filling to our level.  It is very hot on the sunny side but pleasant on the shady starboard side where all the seats are filled – naturally.  I decided to return below to do the same as my morning project.

At four o’clock – Cabin dark at bottom of the lock and moving to middle lock, through the two open lock gates.  The second one appears not to be wet and has a dry red tint.  Daylight returned as the curved side leveled to the second lock chamber.  As we await lowering of the water in the middle chamber, the Captain has come on the Tannoy again to announce that since we are two hours late, we will have to skip Christobal, which distresses me not one bit!  We will press on to Cartagena, Colombia.  The ship ahead is taking a long time to exit the last lock.  Don’t know why.  4”25, It is finally out and the gates closed.

Where my porthole is, is where one of the two sets of lock gates resides, so I could study the riveted panels that make up the massive gate, and the very tall hinges are also impressive.  This lock doesn’t seem very deep, but since the sun has been covered in clouds it would be dark anyway.  4:35 – The gates to the last lock opened (only one set).  I guess the first open set is for smaller ships!  Frigate birds.  5:50 – I spotted water rushing through the sluice gates in huge quantities for our final lowering of QE2’s career.

Throughout the day, the whistle has occasionally done the familiar salute to various passing ships or workers canalside!   5:20 – One whistle blast!  The exit to the Caribbean Sea is quite like a canal in itself as it is lined with earth and trees.

I napped during a TV documentary on the history of the canal excavation, then started the packing and listing process – toward delivering one case to be sent home from New York. I then met Jannie for dinner at the Lido, after which we migrated to the Grand Lounge.  We sat there until we realized the combined orchestra and dance band wouldn’t start till nine thirty.  With a quiet whoop and laughter, we parted.  I walked the deck back to A and thence to the cabin.  On my bed was the last World Cruise gift, a framed painting of QE2.  The rest of my evening was spent listening to David McCullough narrate the development and completion of the Panama Canal.  Now to sleep after a most interesting day.

Sunday, 6 April: Cartagena, Colombia: 10˚24.1′ N x 075˚ 31.9′ W.

As we came into our berth, I could see ahead a familiar funnel configuration and stated it as a Celebrity Cruise ship.  I was right! I remained on board all morning, having breakfast in the Lido with Shirley Fitzgibbon and leaning on the rail with Jannie briefly.  The rest was spent keeping cool, reading, observing various phases of the abandon ship process from muster to abandon ship, which included lowering the lifeboats, opening the access doors on Upper Deck, lowering further etc.  I found Tony and Anne in Queens Room where we chatted till noon.  I told them of my Loch Ness week sailing.

Lunch in the Pavilion with Jannie, then at two o’clock I set out on my tour of Cartagena, which included the sights: 1.  San Filipe Fortress with its steep and wide ramps, little sentry turrets on several levels, listening chambers, dark tunnels and rough steps down.

2. La Popa Monastery up a steep hill with stations of the cross, favilas along the way and switchbacks.  We saw a large golden altar, cloisters and 360˚ views. 3.  Plaza de las Bovedas, better known as stables – rampart walls looking seaward, and now shopping stalls selling Inca designed materials and jewelry. 4. Church of San Pedro Claver (1521) dedicated in memory of him, because he administered to the slaves.  Lots of sculptures outside.  We watched a procession being filmed for a movie.  We walked along the old streets with balconied buildings – wood and yellow stucco with orangey details for contrast.  Horses and carts, women in costume – colorful with fruit bowl on their heads.

5.  The last stop was at a more up-market shopping plaza, and of course the ever-present vendors pestering for a sale.

We went back to the ship by six fifteen.  The “Constellation” the Celebrity ship had already departed.  I had dinner with Rosina and Eddy – jacket potatoes.  Jannie came to sit with me while we waited nearly an hour for the show by Izzy and the ventriloquist.  I asked Martin Stringer to accompany me at the next Talent Show and he agreed.  After the show I went on deck and stayed with the Halpins and Boultons by the railing to see us slowly leave Cartagena Harbor.  To the cabin by ten o’clock, shower and settle in!

Monday, 7 April:

There has been a bit of motion as we plow through, up and over fairly sizeable broadside swells from the East.  It is partly cloudy with bright sun.  335˚ course at 21.1 knots.

After nine o’clock I had a brief breakfast with Anne and Tony, then attended the Jamaica lecture, then the history of our Moon flights.  On deck at noon I saw the slightly white capped seas and heard the wonderful noon whistle bests.  Report:  14˚27.2 N x 077˚ 41.9’ W.  Rhumb line 335˚ at 177 knots, 20.2 knots average.  Temp: 29˚ C = 84˚ F;  Wind: East northeast Force 4 = 14 knots, 21 knots on deck.  Slight seas; short, moderate easterly swells.

I remained on deck reading till time to meet Jannie.  Marjorie from Brownsville Texas came to eat with us on portside of the Mauretania.  I went directly to the cabin, watched Close Encounters and napped till five o’clock when I went to the Baggage Master to finalize the DHL arrangements.  I missed the La Bohème broadcast in the Theatre.

I had to dress formal for the cocktail party in Yacht Club, but it was all worth it when I was able to sit with Rosemary and Doug Jackson who introduced me to a Royal Navy man, Malcomb and his wife Susan.  We had great conversations about our ships, and especially about the “Queen Victoria.”  Malcomb had only criticism, but did allow the design for all the public rooms on one deck was good and there are ways to bypass them if need be.  The Jacksons will be on the voyage to Dubai.  Doug also said three, four and five decks will be gutted to bring rooms up to standard for a convention type hotel and eventually the funnel will be rebuilt for an accommodation of some sort.  This means QE2 won’t be going anywhere, also most of the staff will remain till December.

I managed to break away by 7:45 to join Jannie in the Lido and we then went to hear Diane Cousins from Wales.  She was a very good comedienne and mercifully sang only a few songs in her horsey low, raspy nasal voice.  She gave both the audience and orchestra members a hard time all in jest!  We all liked her.  I then went to see Disney’s “Enchanted” since I slept well in the afternoon.  Fun!  Animated as well as actual.  An Ensemble gift – a leather tray.

Tuesday, 8 April, Montego Bay, Jamaica: 18˚28.6’N.

The anchor dropped near seven o’clock, but although awake I dozed off again till seven thirty.  I reported to Yacht Club at 8:30 and shortly thereafter our Ensemble group took a tender at 5 Deck D stairway.  Soon we were loaded onto our two small buses and were away for the sights of the island:  1834 water wheel, pottery studio; lunch and entertainment at the “Day – O Plantation.  The last sight was Cinnamon Hill Plantation house built by Edward Bartlett and later owned by Johnny Cash.  We had a long traffic-filled return drive to the tenders in Montego Bay.  As we left, the Royal Caribbean ship, “Liberty of the Seas” came to dock.  Meanwhile, QE2 needed a tug tethered to the stern to keep her from pointing into the wind and having her stern too close to shore.

Jannie and I endured the whiz-bang piano by Ryan Ahern, a Las Vegas “World Champion Pianist” to quote the daily program. “Too many notes” for sure!  Chamomile tea, a quick check on the Atlas for Jamaican geography, and we parted for the night.  It looks as though we will be passing between Cuba and Haiti tonight.  Waters are very smooth.

Clocks ahead one hour.  Marguerite, Archie, Marilyn Peters, Billy and Valerie Noonan.  See my notes for more detail.

Wednesday, 9 April:

I ate breakfast in Omar’s section with Rosina and Eddy, making brief contact to make up for not being at 293 for a long time.  I also chatted briefly with Eric and Margaret who have been out of my visiting range a long time!  I then went right to Boat Deck to sit under boat 12 all morning reading in the mild sunny air.

Noon Report:  21˚29.3’ x 075˚53.8’ W in the Bahama channel.  Rhumb line 295˚, 22.7 knots, 23.8 knots average.  Temp: 27˚C = 82˚ F.  Wine: East at Force 2 = 5 knots , and 20 knots on deck.  Smooth seas, negligible swells.

I reported to Grand Lounge at 12:15 to rehearse with Martin.  However, we had to wait till nearly 12:50 before we could get the studio.  “Where E;er you walk” went well.  I caught up with Jannie a little late in Victoria’s section – finally!  I then took my traveler’s checks to cash, and returned to the cabin to watch Richard Dreyfus giving his talk on civility, and how we should teach what our values are to the young folks.

The Talent Show – the last one for the World Cruise, saw Thomas present Mary Mastony with a miniature Oscar for her 22 years of singing and being the QE2 Diva since 1985.  She actually did a fair job of singing “La Vie en Rose”. People gave her a standing ovation.  Carole Lunde had a good humorous act, and Olive did a great Kern song.  A few people came up to me expressing appreciation for my selection of “Where E’er You Walk.”

Eventually I found Jannie portside on Boat Deck and we remained till six forty-five watching a cargo ship paralleling us a bit ahead.  We could see the wake trailing a long way to the stern.  All the while we could see a lighthouse or two, mountains and distant land mass stretching along the southwestern horizon which turned out to be Cuba.  Jannie and I met up for a Lido dinner, watched the very funny John Martin from Liverpool, and ended it all with tea and cocoa back in the Lido.  Tony and Anne joined us too.

As I walked forward on Boat Deck portside, the lovely crescent moon (waxing) was to Port high up in the dark, clear sky on its way toward the western horizon.  I think the land we saw was a long island off of Cuba.  87 people are leaving tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 April:  Fort Lauderdale, 26˚ 5.2’N x 080˚ 7.0’ W.

I was awakened about six fifteen with the tug engines sounding and bright lights from the bow.  I spent a good part of the morning reading my book in the shade of the ship on starboard facing inland.  I called family members as well.  My project for fun was to find all the shipyards I could from the 2008 Almanac and so far I count 70 so.  Wow!

Toward eleven I went ashore to go through immigration, which for us citizens was a casual look at my photo in the Passport.  We had to wait a while till we could return on board, which for me was toward noon.  I ate lunch on my own in the Lido, then returned to Boat Deck till two or three o’clock.

I went below for a nap till four thirty, then it was sailing time to await departure.  I stood in sun watching the tugs spray their cannon water, and doing wheelies, even the small fire rescue sprayed and spun!  When all was ready and the tugs started pulling us away and backwards for the pivot to Port, I went to the Port side and started the video rolling for the motorboat flotilla horns and whistles. QE2 whistles and the moderate gatherings of people in their yards and vacant lots on toward the apartments and condos.  One man shouted on his bull horn, “Such a magnificent ship.”  When we were clear of the entrance I noticed three Pilot boats along side as well as one last tug and small Coast Guard boat all of which continued with us till the Pilot left us and pealed off back to port.  I phoned Emily!  The ship lost electric power, as the officer called it “a brownout.”  The big fans by G stairwell outside went quiet and came on shortly thereafter.  However, as I neared my cabin, Christine said the toilets aren’t working properly.

Ships of consequence seen today are:  “Enchantment of the Seas” (Royal Caribbean) and “Regal Empress” of the Imperial Majesty Cruise Line.

I took a much- needed shower and headed to the Lido to meet with Jannie who has had her hair cut and dyed.  It looked very nice!  We went a little late to the Kenny James show – a very energetic singing program with his renditions of Motown songs and famous black musicians.  He had the audience clapping and singing on cue, basically captivating everyone.  Jannie was most enthusiastic and bought his CD

We did the usual Lido visit,  then went on deck to view the crescent moon darting in and out of clouds.  After a brief look at the fifty per cent off stuff in the shops, we parted and I returned on deck to soak in the cooling breezes and admire the moon some more.  Jannie called me to tell me the Warwicks are already on board and she talked with him in the lift.  We are traveling northward at 29.5 knots.  Eat you heart out “Queen Victoria!”

Friday, 11 April:

I awoke around three o’clock and found the TV off, which indicated the electrics were still being repaired.  It went off and on for a while, leaving the hotel alleys dark as well.  When seven forty-five came along and I awoke again to bright sunshine pouring into my cabin, I arose.  I met Jannie at the Pavilion, got a muffin and milk, then we were both off for Carol Thatcher’s talk.

I went on deck under boat 12 for the next hour, having first selected the Stark book about “Pamir” and the Horn.  After the noon whistle, the Captain greeted us on the Tannoy, telling us what the problem with the electrics was.  They had to replace a large circuit breaker, which has solved the defect.  We were delayed while the fault was being researched and repaired, so we have been racing along at thirty knots.

Noon Report:  32˚43.4’ N x 076˚23.9’ W:  Rhumb line course: 026˚ at 30 knots, average 23.9 knots.  Temp: 23˚ = 74˚ F:  Wind from the South at Force 3 = 7 knots = 21 knots on deck.  Slight seas; short, low easterly swell.

On learning all this, I went to Andrew Green’s lecture on “Impact of Cosmic Collisions.’”  Jannie and I sought out Roger and Janet at their table for lunch.  Rather than return to the deck I spent three hours watching “La Bohème” in HD-TV a three hour commitment.

I bought Harrod’s teas and QE2 goodies for gifts.  The Internet has been completely down all day and no promises of repairs soon.  The fault was with the power on the Starboard shaft.  Because of our delay we will be an hour late , so we will enter the harbor in daylight and should be docked by eight thirty.  We will also depart an hour late at six o’clock.

Dinner in the Mauretania with all but Rosina and Eddy, whose surname is Hutchinson by the way.  I sought out the Lees and they have already seen and greeted the Warwicks, and I will ask if they can attend the special lectures.  Eric and I talked about the circuit breaker and what the starboard shaft has to do with it.  Jannie finally arrived on the left audience spot where we enjoyed the Cunard Singers and Dancers production.  We did our usual Lido visit followed by a moment on Lido deck to see the first quarter waxing moon.  A ship to starboard might be “Norwegian Dawn.”  When back in my cabin I dragged my suitcase out for off-loading, and now hope for the best.  No newspaper or internet action all day.  700 people will disembark tomorrow.

World Ocean Cruise Liner Society, Steamship  Historical Society of America.  Now the fun begins.