Memories of a World Cruise on the QE2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

I served as a Senior Navigating Officer on the QE2 during
a World Cruise in 1975

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I did this cruise while serving as a First Officer on QE2

On the 4th Jan 1975 We set sail from Southampton on the first leg of our cruise, which would take us to New York, Port Everglades in Florida, then Curacao, San Salvador, Rio De Janeiro

The Royal Marine Band played us away from the dock an R.AF helicopter flew round the ship flying a banner wishing us Bon Voyage accompanied by lots of small craft and a Fire Fighting vessel with jets of water rising in all directions

After passing the Bishop s Rock light vessel we headed out in to the Atlantic on our passage to New York. We encountered severe storms on the way, which forced us to reduce speed in order for passenger comfort and reduce damage to the ship.

Off Newfoundland the wind veered into the North with Freezing Temperatures and Snow Flurries.

The Captain held his welcome cocktail party when the weather abated and I met some of the celebrities travelling on the cruise including a Hungarian lady who was a film star many years ago.

We also had the Duke and Duchess of Bedford Ludovic Kennedy and Wife Moira Shearer yachtswoman Rosie Swales Joe Loss the Band Leader and Salvador Dali complete with fur coat, which said little for our air conditioning. We also had one or two very young guests clad in pyjamas who had obviously escaped from their beds to see their Mum and Dad. One of them went to shake hands with the Captain while he was making his speech.

I visited the Chinese Laundry to instruct them in Fire and Boat drill procedures.Mr.Chai Fong the supervisor who spoke English translated for me. They even cook their own Chinese food in the laundry, a meal being prepared while I was there

We duly arrived in New York some 6 hours late where we embarked American passengers doing the cruise

I had time for a run ashore after our U.S.Coastguard inspection and Boat Drill. Because the ship runs out of American Ports with American passengers we must comply with U.S. regulations regarding safety hygiene etc

In the afternoon I took the ferry across from the southern tip of Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty and a visit to the top of the statue via the spiral staircase which winds to the top 300 feet high a most exhausting journey, but magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline and harbour approaches. The statue is constructed of copper and was a present from the French to the American government at the end of the 19th century. It was constructed in sections and sent out by ship for final assembly in the states.

We sailed from N.Y in the evening and passed Cape Hatteras the following morning when we entered the Gulf Stream and the air temperature shot up to 72 D Fahrenheit. All the officers changed into white uniforms, which would be the rig of the day until we reached Japan

We arrived Port Everglades on the morning of 12th Jan to the sounds of hooters and sirens from the small craft out to welcome us. The tall blocks of flats on either side of the entrance channel had flags spread out from their windows to greet us We embarked our remaining world cruise passengers and set sail southwards to Curacao.

In the evening when dark the stars of both the northern and southern hemispheres are to be seen. The constellation of Orions belt overhead and Canopus the southern most star of this group now appearing above the horizon The stars seem to shine more brilliantly in the tropics. Soon we have the Southern Cross appearing for the first time so we know we are getting near the equator.

Our passage to Curacao is east through the NW providence channel then southeast on the outside of the Bahamas to take us well clear of the surrounding small islands which are poorly lit at night and charted depths and shoals often inaccurate as the surveys were made in many cases over 100 years ago. Then south through the crooked island passage thence to the windward passage separating Cuba and Haiti and into the Caribbean proper This is the most popular route used by vessels coming from the east coast of the United States and one which was used by sailing vessels in years gone by, so they have stood the test of time.

The air is filled with a fragrant aroma from the tropical vegetation from forests and plantations ashore logwood nutmeg cocoa and sugar and banana plants as we pass close to the coast of Haiti.

Our call at Curacao was mainly to take on oil fuel some 4500 tons enough for our passage to South America On departure from this port we steamed along the coast of Venezuela passed the islands of Trinidad and Tobago keeping some 200 miles offshore to obtain a favourable current We crossed the equator on Jan 18th when traditionally those passengers and crew who have not crossed before are ducked in the pool with King Neptune in attendance. King Neptune in this case being a lady member of the cruise staff with all her Queenets in attendance.

We are soon heading close to the coast of Brazil and passing many ships including Brazilian fishermen in their craft called Jangadas which are constructed out of logs with a large sail to blow them along. Flying fish are seen gliding along the tops of the wavelets. There are some 100 species of this fish, and  they are eaten by dolphins and other predators when seen in flight they are normally trying to escape from them.

We passed a Russian tanker today and I called him on our vhf radio she was bound for Odessa the Russian port on the black sea. She had taken a cargo of oil to refuel the Russian whaling fleet in Antarctica.

We arrived Rio de Janeiro on the morning of 22nd January.

To be continued

Submitted: April 26, 2012

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Fri, April 27th, 2012 2:42pm

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