Queen Elizabeth 2, Oceana (II), Saga Rose, Saga Ruby & Queen Mary 2
The 23rd April 2006 was the first time apparently since 1966 that Southampton docks had five ships in.  QM2 was first to arrive, docking for 4am.  Saga Ruby, at the end of her world cruise and due for 4.30am was late.  QE2 came third, also at the end of a world cruise and due to dock for 5am but was also late, docking around twenty minutes later.  Saga Ruby, the last of the world cruisers, arrived on time at 6.30am.  While Oceana seemingly brought the rain, cold and mist, docking five minutes early at around 8.10am.  QE2 was the first listed to leave to go to Bremerhaven for her refit at 12.30pm and by the time we got to the marina it was already building up with people.  Rain, cold, mist.  Didn't keep them away.  QM2 was in 38/9, Saga Rose berthed starboard in 101 east, Saga Ruby portside in 101 west, QE2 in 105 and Oceana in 106.
Well true to form, QE2 left late.  She sneakily cast off at 12.45pm, slipping out of the berth silently.  A fire tug led the way as she passed her former fleet mates, Saga Rose and Saga Ruby.
By the time QE2 passed QM2 the water tug had stopped and returned to the dock.  She let out three loud blasts on her whistle.  QM2 replied.  There was a short pause before QE2 gave three more blasts, which QM2 also repied to.  Finally one each then off she went to Bremerhaven.

We went home for a while but were back for the 5pm sailings of Oceana and Saga Rose. It had stopped raining and visibility was slightly improved.  The marina was packed again which was a surpise.  It always is when both Queens are in but isn't busy usually. Oceana was quick off the mark, casting off on the dot and blasting her horn.  As she passed the Sagas nine minutes later she blasted again and they both replied.  Four minutes after that she gave a single one.  No sooner had Oceana passed than Saga Rose began to pull out.  Unfortunately the film in my camera wouldn't wiond back so I had to pull it out by hand, meaning it got ruined.  These are the only snaps I have and that was from the digital I had only take for the better zoom.

As Oceana approached QM2 they greeted each other, although QM2 was a bit slow and didn't give as many blasts on the horns.

Saga Rose blasted her whistle three times and her sister Saga Ruby gave three in return, with each giving one more.  She was silent as she passed QM2 which was disappointing.  By now, rather annoyingly, the rain had started again.
With Saga Ruby now down to leave at 6pm instead of 6.30pm and having a tug attached to her bow before the hour, we were hoping she would sail first and pass her former Cunard fleet mate.  Instead, QM2 cast her first mooring ropes off at 6.07pm and began to move away from the dock five minutes later, with Saga Ruby casting off around the same time.  QM2 gave three blasts as she postitioned herself with another three just after passing us.  Thankfully, although the clouds were still thick and the mist lingered, it had stopped raining.  Saga Ruby was silent as she left her berth and headed towards the Solent.
Nearly everyone had gone so we joined them and went home to warm up and dry off.  It was a good day in spite of the weather.

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© Patricia Dempsey 23rd April 2006
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