Artemis & Queen Elizabeth 2 Farewell British Isles
I had another opportunity to visit the QE2 on the 30th September 2008.  Artemis was also in and docked at Mayflower.  I had become very excited two days earlier when VTS shipping movements listed Lizzie docking starboard rather than port then extremely disappointed when they corrected it!  She MUST reverse into the Itchen like others before she leaves and time's running out fast!!!!!  Anyway while Artemis was all snug by 7am, Lizzie, despite skipping St Johns, Newfoundland due to the weather, arrived late!  When I got to Hythe and sat in the pier train to wait at 7.25am she still had the tugs attached.  It was a miserable old day as I headed over to visit my then boyfriend, Patrick Patton, who was a piano player onboard.  Rain and strong winds forecast and it had tried to rain a few times.  They decided to wash the ferry windows and side as we crossed to Town Quay which ruined my chance of getting Artemis in the shot.
After arriving, Patrick took me to the mess for a cup of tea.  Here his friend Stevie was.  I had met Stevie previously in town during my first date with Patrick and he always made me laugh.
At lunchtime we made our way to the crew exit and almost literally bumped into BBC South Today travel correspondent Paul Clifton and his cameraman who came through a door just as we approached it as they followed Thomas Quinones.  Well I was stunned to say the least but my crew member had no idea who the hell he was.  I was told they were filming a one-hour special to go out on BBC South on the 11th November.  Something to look forward to!  We continued our route out and I managed to take the picture below quickly as he was worried about getting into trouble.
It was really windy by now and I hadn't been able to use my umbrella.  On the ferry coming back I got some more shots charting the building progress of what's now been named Ocean Terminal after the original one.
I met my dad the other end and, as it was a little early, went to the Prom first to kill some time then headed towards the marina.  It was pretty deserted.  We hadn't realised until gone 4pm when people began to turn up they'd been waiting in their cars.  It was freezing and the wind was getting worse but the rain seemed to be holding off.  Both ships were due to sail at 5pm but Lizzie had been put back to 5.30 as she was still bunkering.  Bentley attached to the stern while Sussex was at the bow.  Lyndhurst came out of the kennel and tested the water spouts.  Meanwhile at Western Docks, Surrey and Sarah went to assist Artemis.  As we waited we got chatting to the son of the man who designed Lizzie and his wife.  They're on the final Med cruise as they wanted to do the last return to Southampton.  The BBC also turned up!  We were curious as to which channel they were so I asked if it was BBC or ITV.  It was made very clear they were BBC2!  They too are doing a special which will go out in March or April.
Artemis finally moved just after 5.15pm and blasted.  It was fairly quiet down the marina despite the much larger crowd but everyone was huddled in the wind.  Usually this type of weather keeps people away so it must be because of being one of Lizzie's last calls.
Shortly after 5.30pm Whitonia finally unhooked and left.  Meanwhile as Artemis neared she blasted to Her Majness manically.  Lizzie replied likewise then after a pause, they did it again!  It was some goodbye between the two ships as this was the last time they would be in their home together.  I think the BBC filmed that.  Hope so and they include it!
At 5.43pm Lizzie finally began to move as she set off on her farewell round Britain cruise.  Oddly enough, although the blurbs called this Farewell to the British Isles, the Daily Programme just had it as British Isles with no mention of the last calls.  Originally Dublin had been a port of call but was changed to Cherbourg.  Due to bad weather, that ended up cancelled and they had an overnight in Cobh instead before going to Liverpool, Greenock, South Queensferry and Newcastle before returning home on the 10th October.
The BBC certainly got their money's worth.  Lyndhurst went forward and have her the water salute, leading her down towards the Solent and once she was straightened and following, she blasted.
So it was another au revoir to Lizzie for a while and we went home to defrost.  It had been worth freezing for though and we can't wait for the BBC2 special.

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© Patricia Dempsey 30th September 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission
20th July 2010