Thursday, 26 July 2012

Hot evening in the Solent

I hadn't yet seen either MSC Opera or Silver Whisper although they have been visitors to Southampton this summer. My sister and her two kids had decided to come over to take advantage of the spell of nice hot weather and hit the beach, but this evening they were returning home so I took them to the Red Jet, although I went via Cowes seafront to photograph MSC Opera. I timed it perfectly and arrived just as she rounded Calshot.
Unfortunately the lovely hot weather plays havoc with any photos taken at a distance and the photos of MSC Opera, in particular, show quite a lot of heat shimmer.

Click for largest.

After dropping the relatives at the Red Jet terminal we (my aunt and myself) returned to Queens Road to wait for Silver Whisper. HMS Monmouth (a.k.a. the 'Black Duke'), a Type-23 frigate commissioned in 1993, sailed past heading west.

The usual ferries were busy, as the holiday season is now well underway.

My sister and nephews were aboard Red Jet 3 as it pulled away from Cowes heading back to Southampton

Silver Whisper is quite a cute little ship, but one it probably costs a small fortune to sail on. Her destination tonight is Bordeaux.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Royal visit to Cowes

Today HM The Queen visited Cowes, Isle of Wight, on the final leg of her Jubilee tour of the UK. I have to confess that I am not that much of a Royalist but I do rather like Her Madge, and she does remind me of my late Nan in a way, but my aunt wanted to see her and I fancied a morning out, rather than doing any work.

We left my car in Newport and caught a special shuttle bus to Cowes.

The Queen and Prince Philip arrived at Cowes to a 21-gun salute on the lovely 1930 gt motor yacht Leander, built at Peene Werft in the former East Germany in 1992, then walked along Cowes Parade to the RNLI station which she was opening.

As ever, please click for the largest sizes

Red Eagle suitably attired
I got some great photos of the Queen

I have no idea who this is, but note the huge mace. Bet he was hot in that regalia, too, it was 30°C

Maj General Sir Martin White, Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight
Motor Yacht Leander

Red Jet 4 was being used for a special cruise

The guns at the Royal Yacht Squadron were used for a 21-gun salute as the Queen landed at Cowes

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Three Queens - video

Here is some video of Queen Elizabeth departing from Southampton on Friday. It's not the best, I admit, as I rarely take video. This was taken on a small Sony video camera and I have left the sounds in as filmed, the noise of Ocean Scene's engines, bleeps from the camera (need to sort that out somehow!) and the chatter of other passengers.

I have also uploaded another, of all three ships. I have added a soundtrack to it, one of the royalty-free soundtracks YouTube offer and this one is Spring, from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I am not a classical music fan at all, metal and rock are my genres of choice, but I think it suits these three ships more than a metal track would! I did find a version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which would have been amusing if it was any good but it wasn't.


Edit - I forgot to mention that I doing a 4-night cruise on Queen Mary 2 in November with my friend Patricia. Patsy texted me on Saturday evening, saying that she was thinking of doing a short Mary cruise and, having no willpower whatsoever, I asked about the prices and invited myself along. I have always wanted to travel aboard a genuine Cunard ocean liner (sorry QE and QV that rules you ladies out, at least for now) and never got the chance to sail aboard Queen Elizabeth 2, something I regret (although I did visit her for a day, back in the early 1990s), so I jumped at the chance of at least spending a few days aboard her grand descendent.

Southampton, Friday 13th July - the other stuff

As well as the three Cunarders there were a few other ships in on Friday. Unfortunately the container port was empty, the only tenant was the Dutch feeder container ship Enforcer which had just left there.

Enforcer, 7642 gt, built in 2004, Netherlands flag, IMO 9255737

Grande Colonia, 38651 gt, built in 2007, Italian flag, IMO 9318527

Great Expectations

Great Expectations and Red Falcon

Ocean Scene, our transport later in the day

Morning Mercator, 52422 gt, built in 1988, Norwegian flag, IMO 8608078
Talisman, 67140 gt, built in 2000, Norwegian flag, IMO 9191319

Nemuna, 2863 gt, built in 1998, Antigua and Barbuda flag, IMO 9179361. Is that a 'Playboy' bunny painted on the funnel?!

Birgit G., 2545 gt, built in 2010, Antigua and Barbuda flag, IMO 9536064

Krilo Carbo, 500 gt, built in 2012, Croatian flag, IMO 9622708
Port tender Seagreen

Shoreway, 5005 gt, built in 2009, Cyprus flag, 9420344
Seagreen passing Shoreway

Clipper Star, 34970 gt, built 2003, Norwegian flag, IMO 9247807

Kronviken, 61653 gt, built in 2006, Norwegian flag, IMO 9321677

Nice speedboat, built by C-Boat

Jenny M, carrying members of the Isle of Wight branch of the World Ship Society, shot past us in Southampton Water

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Friday the Thirteenth - Three Queens Day 2012 #2

Friday the Thirteenth is a date generally feared and avoided if at all possible by the superstitious. Things can, and do happen on Friday the Thirteenth, such as the Costa Concordia accident on January 13th (a Friday!) this year but that could just as easily have happened on the 12th or 14th. My Friday 13ths this year have actually been good days and yesterday was no exception, although I hope they're not storing anything up for Something Really Bad in future!
Friday 13th July 2012 was notable for the fact that all of Cunard's three current 'Queen' cruise ships were in Southampton together for the second time in just over six weeks. This time, however, there was no publicity unlike for the Jubilee celebration on June 5th. The weather this time was also better.

My friend Patricia had told me about Blue Funnel Cruises' sailaway cruise while we were in Amsterdam last week and asked if I would like to come along but, as I thought it would be a sell-out, we phoned and there was at least one space left. £17.50 for a three-hour cruise is not bad value.

Duly booked on the cruise and with camera batteries charged and cards formatted, I went to work as normal yesterday morning but finished at lunchtime and headed over to Southampton on the Red Jet from Cowes.
As I had some time to kill before meeting Patsy and Kevin I caught the free bus up to the city centre and had a wander round the shops. That was a mistake, as I ended up in Currys and bought a Sony video camera; I'd been thinking of getting one for a while but I got this on a whim. I'll post some initial results once I have edited them and uploaded them onto my YouTube account.

Queen Victoria in the Ocean Terminal. 

I met Patsy and Kevin at Town Quay and we went straight round to the Blue Funnel offices at Ocean Village where I had to collect my ticket from the office before boarding Ocean Scene. Also over for the event were Andrew and Donna Cooke, well-known maritime photographers from the island.
From Ocean Village we passed Queen Mary 2 on berths 38/9 and Queen Victoria at berth 46 and headed up to the Western Docks where Queen Elizabeth was waiting on berth 106. The schedule had been rearranged and QE was to depart first, turning in the Upper Swinging Ground before passing Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2. QV would be the next to depart, followed by QM2 which would back into the Itchen before turning into Southampton Water.
While waiting for Queen Elizabeth to get underway, we went into the container port but, unfortunately, this was ship-less, there was no so much as a floating cockleshell in there, apart from a bloke in a tiny motor boat who had tied up to one of the berths and was moved on by the harbourmaster's launch. Probably yet another worm-drowner attempting to fish where he shouldn't - I'd already seen one bloke on Town Quay fishing right next to a 'Strictly No Fishing' sign. What is it with these people - illiterate, stupid or just don't think that rules apply to them? Actually this reminds me of a discussion with a friend who just happened to be a devoted fisherman and who was of the opinion that an interest in ships was a bit strange. And sitting out in all weathers dangling a worm on a hook into water is not strange?

Queen Elizabeth with Ashleigh R

Three Queens: L-R - Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2

We followed Queen Elizabeth down to where the other two were waiting
Queen Elizabeth passes Queen Mary 2

Queen Victoria gets under way

Why is there *always* a yacht in the way?!

Queen Victoria follows her sister down Southampton Water

Queen Mary 2's lines are let go

Red Eagle peeps out from behind Queen Mary 2, ready to get in the way of photos
Here comes Red Eagle - note Union flag painted on funnel

Queen Mary 2 moves away from the dock

And reverses into the Itchen

The 'Vista Sistas' are approaching the oil terminals

"Wait for me!"

And with that, it was time to head back to Ocean Village, then Town Quay and home. The weather had, fortunately, been an improvement over the dire effort of the previous week and the P&O event and the sun had even managed a few brief appearances.
I'll see what the video footage is like and post it later.

The weather is truly grim this summer and the south coast has had more than its fair share of rain and wind. However, we should spare a thought for Portsmouth, it's -10 there. :-)