Aurora & Oriana (II)
What a day this turned out to be.  Originally, Oriana's Christmas cruise was due to depart on the 16th December 2006 but because of the refit plans it was reduced to nine days from eleven.  Another freezing cold day and the marina was deserted save for a few dog walkers.  Some arrived for 5pm to wave people off.  As we arrived we wondered why the hi-speed ferry to Cowes was going slowly. Then we saw a police boat, harbour master and coastguard helicopter apparently scouring the water.  Later we discovered by talking to a coastguard a security guard had gone missing from Oriana, last seen at 12.30pm and reported at 3.30pm.

Another coastguard told us fifteen minutes before sailing times they would shortly be giving up as the light was going.  The next day in the paper it said he was at home all the time!

As 5pm arrived we did wonder if this search would mean Oriana would leave late.  We don't know if it was the reason but Aurora cast off just after 5pm.  As she passed Oriana she gave two long blasts.  Oriana gave one long, five short, one long, five short and one long.  Aurora had the last word with one long, three short and one long.
By the time Oriana finally cast off at 5.41pm, it had begun to rain and the wind whipped up.  It was unforecast so my dad didn't take an umbrella.  I had mine on the off chance but as it kept blowing inside out I thought it had had it that time but it lives to see more days.  She gave one blast and there was an enormous cheer from the ship.  Two minutes later she blasted more and again two minutes after that. By the time she passed the pier the wind and rain had stopped.  Typical!
For photos of Oriana arriving from refit the day before, click here.  For other shots of Oriana and Aurora same day sailings click here for 2005 and here for 2006.

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© Patricia Dempsey 18th December 2006
Not to be reproduced without permission