Queen Elizabeth 2 & Oriana (II)
Oriana was listed as arriving back from her refit in Bremerhaven for 5.40pm on the 17th December 2006 so we decided to go down.  The QE2 was due to sail at 5pm meaning they would have to pass somewhere near Hythe pier before Oriana turned round and docked in QEII terminal after QE2 had gone as she was at least two hours away when we left at 3pm.
Shortly before 4.25pm Oriana took us by surprise as she rounded Calshot.  She was early!  I think she took everyone by surprise as at one point she looked like she'd stopped to get instructions.  This was her first arrival at her home port with Hamilton registry, leaving only Aurora still as London.  They had also removed the black P&O lettering on the side, replacing it with the new P&O Cruises logo.  After a while Oriana gathered speed again as she now had to go to the other turning circle before coming back down once the QE2 had left.
Just after 4.45pm Oriana blasted on her whistle as she passed QE2.  This could have been a conversation if ships could talk.  She gave one long, two short and one long.  QE2 responded with three long.  Oriana then gave two long (the first overlapping the last of the QE2's), three short and one long.  QE2 replied with four short.  Oriana gave one long and finally QE2 gave two short.
The QE2 kept up her usual habit of leaving late.  She finally cast off just before 5.15pm, giving three very long blasts while Oriana docked at around 6.20pm in QEII terminal.  As it was really cold we decided to leave after QE2 had passed the pier rather than wait.  That didn't stop Oriana blasting as we made our way back.  I heard at least four on her horn.
For photos of Oriana sailing the next day with Aurora, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 17th December 2006
Not to be reproduced without permission
18th December 2006