Sunday, 26 of May of 2024

QE2 Crossing – April, 2008


April 12 – 17, 2008  Cabin 4017

Saturday, 12 April: New York City: 40˚45′ N x 073˚59.9′ W

When I awoke at six thirty we were headed west for entry into the harbor, going 9.7 knots in clear weather.  All of a sudden I heard the foghorn.  We were proceeding forward, and we were in very thick fog; so thick the bow section was nearly obscured from the Bridge!

As yesterday, a notice stated that the satellite difficulties again prevented the acquisition of the daily newspapers.  Also, I didn’t receive my daily schedule.  There is an oval trail on the chart indicating we must have had to mark time for a while.  The fog persisted and was so dense we cold not see the Verrazano Bridge at all!  The rest of the entry was through various thicknesses of fog, revealing fleeting glimpses of the Statue of Liberty.

When we were ready to enter the berth, two tugs on starboard stern started puffing smoke furiously as they pushed in concert with the forward starboard tug – all endeavoring to turn QE2 bow first to starboard and across to berth 91/92.  Great effort was made to keep her from scraping the adjacent pier’s northwest corner.  I think at closest, the side was clear by five feet. (Eric called this fulcrum effect as a “knuckle.”)  At last, they used the starboard bow thruster to effect the clearance.

While the docking was completed, I wandered about trying to find people to say goodbye to: Perle Coles, Shirley Warren, Elaine, Carole.  This reminds me, I met Bill Wibel’s brother, Charlie from New Hampshire), and finally Marguerite on the luggage area.  This brings me to the custom’s process, which went very smoothly.  I claimed my suitcase, went through Customs without the officer even glancing at my declaration, then a DHL agent spotted my big tag and took the case.  In the span of about twenty minutes, I was off and back on the ship.  Whew!

I shared lunchtime with Eric and Margaret Lee, during which time I spotted Ted Scull, who came over to chat.  Suellyn is now headmistress of Trinity School.  He is on board for a meeting and party at Yacht Club with several SSHA members.

I went to Boat Deck for about 1 1/2 hours to read facing “Norwegian Gem” which had followed us into port.  I was chased off the Deck on Portside when bunkering commenced – more time on Starboard.  When I went to the Pavilion for a snack, I spotted Kim and Ron Warwick and shook hands with him and hugged and kissed Kim.  They were busy so I backed off for a future date.

I watched “Elizabeth” in the cabin, then went on deck portside to await our departure, and Jannie eventually came to join me.  We had a long wait because the Bunkering was slow and the ship didn’t leave till 7:44.

Bill Miller did his enthusiastic narration from the Bridge while we backed out of the slip to head down river.  The beautifully restored fireboat “John J. Harvey” displayed its multiple water canons to our Port as Bill pointed out each significant landmark.  Jannie and I switched to Starboard for the upcoming Statue of Liberty, then went inside to the Lido for dinner.  I met a young man named Rich on his first time aboard QE2 and very enthusiastic.  After passing under the Verrazano Bridge, we parted for our respective cabins.  Clocks ahead one hour.

I was able to log onto my email.  Paula is set to meet me on Friday!  QE2 whistle is low E flat.

Sunday, 13 April:

I am now on my specially added Trans-Atlantic crossing with the special nautical “aficionados” of ships.  I awoke shortly before seven o’clock new time.  The ship is facing into the risen sun, and the partly cloudy skies don’t indicate the “frisky” weather Captain Perkins mentioned yesterday.  There is a little motion but I can’t detect easterly swell.

I left my cabin for a bit of a wander before the nine o’clock lecture, but after a coffee in the Board Room, I discovered I was an hour early – the Brian Hoey talk being actually scheduled for eleven.  After all, it is Sunday, and the service takes precedence.  I consequently had time to test the weather on deck and found it to be quite nippy.  I then sought out friends in the Lido and sat with Archie and Marge (UK) while we spotted isolated fishing boats.  I next sat with Rosemary and Doug Jackson, sharing mutual indecision about future cruises.  Meanwhile, we entered a fog bank and now (at eleven) we are still hearing the fog horn and again the bow visibility is slightly limited (the actual bow that is.).

Brian Hoey’s talk on Buckingham Palace was interesting and the questions were pretty pointed- esp. about Camilla.  He even called her “the wicked witch.”

I migrated to the Yacht Club before the appointed time for the SSHA/WOLS get-together so I could chat with Bill Miller and anyone else around.  A young, talented guy showed us some of his stunning ship models.  We moved over to the starboard side where chairs were lined on both sides.  I took a seat with Ann and Gail to my left, Rob (a “Norway” fan) and soon Kim came to sit on the floor to see Emily’s wedding photos.  She stayed quite a time talking with us.  She wants to see my videos of Magellan Strait etc.

The schedule has been somewhat amended and augmented so subsequent days will unfold beautifully!  A little past one o’clock I took my leave, pausing to learn Rob’s name and to meet Ann and Robert who were standing by the piano.  They were talking of the “Norway.”   I went on to meet Jannie and Audrey for lunch in the Pavilion.  Then I paused to chat with the Lees and Lilian till time to head for Grand Lounge, where I came in on the tail end of the talk on Amber and the Amber room in St. Petersberg.  Jannie joined me for the Cunard Singers and Dancers performance of Elton John songs.  Very well received!  Tea in the Lido after reviewing the cakes at the Vienese tea in Queens Room.  We have been in fog most of the day, and now at 4:40 we can still hear the foghorn.

Noon Report:  Off south Grand Banks and tomorrow we will pass the “Titanic” grave and lay a wreath because April 14, 1912 is the date we will be there!  40˚37.3’ N x 066˚33.5’ W:  Rumbline course 85˚ and going 28 knots on deck.  Wind: N at F4, 13 K, 28 knots over decks.  Slight seas; short, low southwesterly swell.

At 4:45 we are slightly rocking.  In the cabin I am watching the second part of Elizabeth with Cate Blanchette.   I have a table change to number 259 in Omar’s section, and I have two tablemates, sir names Skokes and Long, both members of the Ocean Liner group on board. We got acquainted by sharing our experiences with ships, and it sounds as though I have had much more experience, so I will have to tone down my enthusiasm.  When we were finished, I sat at 293 to chat, then when I spotted Ken and Jill I sat with them to tell of the Ben Pester book.  The young man I met last night, Rich, is at their table.

Eventually I made my way to Grand Lounge to sit with Jannie who was right behind Janet and Roger so we enjoyed four-way chatting. They have two cabins now!  Too much water after their flooding, for overnight.   The Mersey Beatles performed, but the first numbers were painfully loud so I left.   Clocks forward an hour.

It may have been foggy all day with foghorn going, but tonight I can see the bow lit by moonlight.

Occasionally, as QE2 calmly forges forth and the water sounds as we cut through the waves, I can feel her shimmy, causing slight sideways tossing, then white foam waxes and wanes!   Ken and Jill had asked me if I felt or heard a bump on the port side aft last night.  Guess I’m too far forward.  They and I wonder if we hit a whale or something hard.  Hmmm!

Monday, 14 April:  “Titanic” Anniversary:

Today is rainy and cold.  I sat with Rosemary and Doug Jackson in the Lido discussing ships as usual.  They too are undecided for future voyages.

I then hastened to a filling Theatre to hear Ron Warwick’s talk on his trip down to see the “Titanic” then remained with Jannie for Bill Miller’s “Floating Palaces,” talk – always full of enthusiasm.

Noon Report:  At five o’clock we will be over the “Titanic” position.  41˚31.5’ N x 053˚ 0.53’ W,  south of the Grand Banks.  Course: Rhumb line 85˚ true at 27.1 knots. : Speed: 26.5K, overall, 26.7 K.  Temp: 11˚C – 52˚ F:  Wind: N at Force 3 = 7 knots or 18 knots over the decks.  Slight seas, average, moderate southwest swell.

After lunch with the Socketts and Jannie, I puttered in the cabin (the internet is again out) till time to go through UK immigration.  Thomas was holding forth dramatically in the Midships rotunda, so we had to wait till his big group moved on.  About then I saw Tom Cassidy briefly, then Kim, with whom I tried to follow to the queue.  We lost each other when we split into two branches in the press at D.  Finally, I reached the one woman doing the process and upon telling her I would be four days in Britain, she stamped me in.

I wandered till teatime avoiding the crowds in Queen’s Room.  Jannie found me way aft in the Lido during our tea and cakes.  When we parted I chatted to Anne Boulton, eventually Tony by the Library, then when Commodore Warwick came by, I showed the T-shirts of Crawford discussing the event in 1992, and our future plans.  He wants to go to Dubai with QE2 but is only wait listed.  I continued to wander till five o’clock when we were exactly over the area of the sunken “Titanic” and I went to witness the one -minute of silence and the ceremony with certain top officers in full dress, a recorded bugle sound and the tossing of the wreath.  Mind you, half way up the port steps by the Lido, so only could see heads mostly.  It was raining.

On my way back to my cabin, I stopped in Queens Room to chat with Olive and her sister.  We related different ship experiences.  She was on board last year but I guess we missed doing the same talent shows.

When I arrived at my new table, 259, my two mates were already on their first course.  We had more pleasant ship talk, then I stopped by 293 for a nice visit with all, plus an intimate conversation with Rosina Down.

Kenny Martyn the jazz clarinetist performed again and both Jannie and I dozed a bit.  The Lido visit was brief because we wanted to turn in for the day.  Clocks ahead one hour.  I gave Jannie the red jewelry case and she was genuinely thrilled!

Tuesday, 15 April:

Try as I would, I was unable to return to sleep after six o’clock new time, but at least I could feel the gentle swaying, rushing water with its periodic buildups from disturbed to broad foaming and back again.  Creaks come and go inside and pulsing waxes and wanes outside, all of which I will miss.  This gives me a precious feeling of intimacy with my dear QE2, and I hope to remember it often!

After emerging after nine o’clock, I checked my email and went to the Lido where I sat with Anne and Tony.  It appeared that we had a following wind with pretty sizeable swells and white caps.  The two lectures in the Theatre were Bill Miller’s “Lives of the Liners” and Brian Hoey’s talk on “Diana.”  I took the noon report as I sat on a comfortable Port Boat deck.

Noon Report:  42˚57.5’N x 039˚ 16,6’ W.  Rhumb line 081˚ at 26.3 knots – 26.6 knots average.  Temp: 14˚C = 57˚ F.  Wind: west at Force 7 = 30 knots, 5 knots on deck (white caps) moderate seas, and short, moderate westerly swell.  – slight pitch.

I found Jannie in warm sunshine under boat 13, so I joined her till lunch.  Olive and her sister came along for a brief chat admiring the beautiful day.  We talked a bit about singing.  She thinks some of the performers don’t have good habits!

Jannie and I sat on Port by a window and while there I became conscious of a low pulsating vibration, perceptible only in my ears.  Jannie also “felt” it when we listened.  I think it might be the gyroscope in conjunction with the stabilizers.  Will pursue this idea.

Back in my cabin I prepared for the rendezvous of our SSHA and WOCLS vigil at three o’clock to gather for tea at four all together.  From three to five our large group assembled in the Queen’s Room forming several round table groups under the decorations for the Grand Ascot Ball.  Kim was careful to arrange it so we could circulate or sit in one place.  I chose to move from group to group trying to get everyone to autograph my book as a way for me to get to know at least a few of the people.  I accumulated 6 pages worth. John Crozier made himself known and gave me a letter he ran off from Steve Swanson who is on board.  He will organize a party for the several Linerslisters present.  I also went to each group to take photos.  One guy had a T-shirt with “Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Rocks” so I showed him my two shots of Crawford’s shirts.  He took pictures of them and he posed with his shirt for me.  Frederick, my tablemate appears to have stayed only a short while.  Chris Skokes and he were warned I wouldn’t be at dinner tonight.

After Kim showed up with a nice QE2 pin, we ladies got excited by the prospect of getting one, and the gal next to me ran up to get some and gave me one – a gift!  I think her name is Anna Tannenbaum.  After tea I realized Richard Faber was here and recognized him in my photos.  When things broke up, I headed aft for time on deck, but upon seeing the Boultons, Rosina and Eddy, I paused with them in the Lido.  They wanted to know what Brian Hoey had to say.  I soon moved on and outside, finally settling under boat 7 out of the following wind and afternoon sun.  The broken clouds obscured the sun anyway!

While reviewing the recent happenings, Rob came to sit briefly while loading his new Sony DVD recorder.  Really nice!  We will meet for lunch at one o’clock tomorrow in the Mauretania Restaurant, since he too prefers the quiet as opposed to the Lido.

I dressed for dinner in time to reach the Lido for seven o’clock but found the line was already open.  Jannie joined me with her Indian food, and when finished we parted so I could move over to Rob’s table to discuss ships with him and another gent.  Actually it turned out Rob was virtually not included because of the other guy’s dominance.  On my way down below, I stopped a while to chat with Frederick, who was waiting for the Ascot Dance to begin.  I found it didn’t start till ten, so I left after a prudent time.  Clocks ahead another hour.

QE2 has listed to Starboard fairly regularly – is she tender?  Moon bright on bow and foam on the water.

Wednesday, 16 April:

I only got up after nine o’clock because I was dead tired, even then, but I had to be on hand for the ten o’clock lecture by Brian Hoey on the “Britannia.”  I made it!  Next, I sat with the Lees for Bill Miller’s talk on ships flying the Red Ensign – a vast historical subject.  Afterward, Margaret indicated she wants a DVD of the videos I’ll be converting.

On deck at noon it is still pleasant with the following wind of 30 knots.  The seas are moderate with white caps and occasional spume lines and swells are moderate, average westerly, five knots on deck.  Noon Report:  44˚34.4’ N x 024˚ 38.2’ W. Rhumb line 081˚ soon to switch more northerly for the English Channel entrance.  Speed: 27.5 knots of average 26.8 knots.  Temp: 13˚ C – 55˚ F

I learned during Bill Miller’s lecture that on April 22,  all three Cunard ships will be in Southampton and as we pass by and down the Solent, we will pay homage to QE2 – the last time they will all be together.  I guess QE2 refit will take place at dockside.

I met with Rob O’Brien, John Crozier, Chris Skokes and two others for lunch in the Mauretania.  Since Rob wanted to hear about my “Norway” experiences, I told them all about my 1993 special tour.

Somewhere along the line, I did a preliminary packing experiment and found things will be tight.  I went upward and came across Jannie going to the Pavilion for ice cream, then I went to Yacht Club to meet the other experts for the QE2 quiz.  My team consisted of Gale Bellafiore, Ann and Don Eberle and eventually, Tim Dacen.  We won one out of three quizzes.  Steve Swanson conducted the quiz and Tom Cassidy tallied.

I wandered to the deck via the Lido and outside Shirley Fitzgibbon called me over to chat.  She wants me to do “Queen Victoria” next year, but I don’t want to.  Anyway, I lingered a bit on Boat Deck, browsed the shops very briefly and went down via stairway A.  The replacement clock has been delivered.

We had the usual Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska parade.  Fred wanted Chris and me to pose with him on the way out and to the SSHA Cocktail Party.  We received our Bill Miller QE2 Pictorial book, which he autographed.  I also had a good talk with Scott about the “Marco Polo” as he played the piano quite deftly.  Kim held forth beautifully as usual.  I left to see the crew show.  Various members sang and played guitars and bases.  The best was Kenny, a 14 year crew member.  The Cruise Staff did their hilarious skit of what they would rather be.  Warren always gets the worst of the deal!

Jannie and I joined Archie for a good night drink.  He has been escorting the Captain’s Mum.  We all parted near ten o’clock.

A last present was on my bed.  A Wedgewood commemoration dish 2008 World Cruise, and a large luggage tag.  Clocks ahead another and last hour!

The bright, clear moon is high at eleven o’clock in the sky and we are constantly crossing her path on the active sea.  The motion has calmed a bit, and the bow, illuminated by moonlight appears to be quite steady.  However with the following sea, we occasionally do list a bit, slowly regaining level.  Margaret Lee said she felt lots of motion on 5 Deck last night.

Thursday, 17 April:

My first order of the day was the two lectures n the Theatre, Bill Miller’s on the “Last Atlantic Liners” and Brian Hoey’s report on the Queen’s daily routine.

Noon Report: from a brisk and pleasant Boat Deck.  48˚16.4’ N x 10˚38.8’ W. Bay of Biscay into the English Channel.  Rhumb line 061˚ at 28 knots, 27.5 average.  Temp: 10˚ C – 50˚ F.  Wind southwest at Force 6 = 28knots.  Moderate seas, average, moderate southwest swells.  Still whitecaps, but supposedly calmer.  However, when I came “home” at five o’clock a wave splashed over my porthole!  Cloudy.

I reported to Thomas for sign up, intending to tell him and Martin I had a conflict.  However, he convinced me to perform, so if last, I could do Warwick’s talk as well, which I did.  A nice young German sang “Wohin” by Schumann, which I missed, but all said he was great.

Jannie and I joined Chris Skokes, Bill, John Cozier and Anna Tannenbaum for a lively lunch and ship talk.  Jannie got great information from several of them about a Discovery ship she went on for Alaska.  I had rehearsed “United States to Great Britain” with Martin, thus making me late.  Commodore’s talk on QE2 changes was most interesting, and I took notes furiously.  I left for the show and was on hand in time.  The song was well received and I gave Olive my copy of the music.  She and I hugged in mutual appreciation.

I joined Jannie for tea as usual in the aft lido spot across from Olive and friends.  I had to relate the Fort Lauderdale incident again – re: QM2.  The Stephen Card print is stashed in my suitcase, safe and sound for now.

The swells enlarged late afternoon as we found ourselves facing both wind and swell direction – Bay of Biscay influence?!  The last dinner with Fred and Chris, included conversation over Fred’s shoulder to Lilian Halsey, then with the Lees.  I shared my change notes with Eric meanwhile.  On my way out, I stopped by 293 for one last session.  Thomas told me at noon that Mary Mastony bought that little Oscar, had it engraved to her and asked him to present it to her!!!!!

I had to buy a QE2 duffle, then sat with Jannie, and John Crozier for a short time, for the second Mersey Beatles concert, and I managed to remain with little ear discomfort!  That was followed by one last Lido visit with Archie Cooper.  Fond goodbyes – then back to my cabin to pack my new duffle.  I showered and crawled into bed for the last time aboard my wonderful “Queen Elizabeth 2.”

Nice water sounds thrill my ears, but seas are leveling off as we enter the outer borders of the English Channel.  Wonderful moonlight is shining in and illuminating the spray along side as we plow steadily on.

Friday, 18 April: Southampton, England: 50˚49.3’N x 001˚28’W.

Again I had a hard time getting to sleep and I saw two o’clock at least.  The water was still doing the push up squish routine, but now at 6:20 we are going up the Solent on the way to our “home berth.”  As I watch our arrival at the QE2 Ocean Terminal, it appears we will be tying up on Starboard instead of the 180˚ turn.  The lines are poised on Starboard bow.

Chris Skokes, Fred and I had our last breakfast (poached eggs).  All three of us are Republicans!  Hugs to Omar, Eric and Margaret, Lilian, then Ravii,  Joan and John Waterfield and others.  Presently, I am in Queens Room with Jannie till disembarkation.

Olive and her sister, Ann came by to say goodbye.

Would you believe, it is noon and I am still sitting in Queens Room with John Crozier.  Jannie left us at eleven thirty hoping to meet her taxi.  The luggage off-loading delay and a strong wind, which has rendered the gangway precarious, are the excuses repeated with each announcement.  During this time, I have been able to say goodbye to a lot more of my friends with hugs and kisses.  Twelve thirty update:  They have had to disconnect the D – 2 Deck gangway because of the weather and now we have Five Deck B Stairway and another is being set up at G stairway.  I left the ship after one o’clock and eventually linked up with Paula Bell.  We loaded my stuff in car V57, and we were off to Hever Castle.  Pub dinner in the Hever Hotel £79 single.

Farewell good and faithful “Queen Elizabeth 2.”  See you in October for the final Crossing with Q2.