Crown Princess (II), Oceana (II) & Grand Princess
The 5th September 2009 was the last day of the season a Princess was here and we went down as we had a couple of times before.  The past few seasons it had been Oceana's sister, Sea Princess with a Grand class.  Now it was two Grand classes and a baby former Princess.  Crown Princess arrived at 7am, but she was coming from the direction of the Irish Sea after another round Britain cruise.  Oceana and Grand Princess were both coming from Norway, and there was a bad storm in the North Sea.  Oceana's original arrival time of 6.30am was changed to 8.30am while Grand was changed to 1.30pm then brought forward to 12.45pm.  Originally Crown was going to dock in Ocean Terminal with Grand in Mayflower but that changed that.  All three were still starboard.  Oceana had lost a satellite ball into the swimming pool during the storm the day before so all internet and mobile phone connection was lost.  I had planned to go over anyway for photos of Oceana starboard in QEII and Crown facing out of Ocean.  But it made more sense to stay over to await the arrival of Grand.
Someone clearly had permission to tie their boat alongside the pontoon to carry out repairs, but they moved whenever the ferry was imminent.
To kill time we stayed in the ferry part and chatted to Andy.  He told us how the paddle steamer Waverley had collided with the dock earlier that morning and called for assistance so Lady Madeleiene went to help.  Since Waverley has a habit of crashing into things, this was very amusing.  He also told us how Hotspur sprays oil whenever anyone turns her on.  Maybe she should be renamed Hotspurt!  I think it's excitement whenever she's used.  The AIS wasn't working so I could only keep an eye on Grand's webcam.  As she was passing Fawley, we made our way out to the end of the car park.  We spotted her just before 12.20pm.  It was funny to see someone had become more frustrated than us with that damn fence and had cut two rectangles so it made photographing and videoing easier.  Now if only someone would get rid of the Gruesome Twosome.  If they weren't in the way, we'd have seen what was going on and they also wouldn't ruin views of the pretty ships!
At 12.32pm a nose and wing tip began to emerge from behind Oceana.  Lady Madeleine was attached to the stern, the only tug helping her so was having a busy day.  Disappointingly, knowing the departure was now after the P&O had gone, there was silence between them.
As everything was going swimmingly, crowds had built up, the sun was shining, something rather annoying and inconvenient crept into the photos.
Since she was going to be a little while docking, we decided to go back to the ferry and Andy to get the rest and then catch the 1.30pm ferry back.  By now it had become colder, windier and cloudier and by the time she was all done, it was very nearly the original 1.30pm arrival time.
Since Whitchallenger had finally unhooked from Oceana and buggered off, I tried my best to get a photo from the pier train.  I left it crooked because it's hard to take one due to the bouncing up and down.
After going home for lunch, it was time to go back down.  It had got much colder and greyer so jumpers and thick jackets were needed.  Oceana was due to leave at 4.30pm, Crown had been put back to 5pm from 4.45 while Grand went from PM to 7pm.  That would be a miracle turning something that size around so fast.  They had done it in six hours with Sea when she arrived late at noon two years earlier.  But a Grand class less than that?  Well we'd see.  As we waited it started to fill up and also had a brief rain shower.
Bentley went down and hung around the stern for a while before Sussex took over after finishing with a car carrier.  Meanwhile we heard her give seven short and one long blast at 4.30pm - muster!  No way would she leave on time now.
Just before 4.50pm she threw the first ropes.  Ten minutes later she began to slowly move and blasted a lot.  No response as far as we could tell from Grand.  She blasted more as she reversed.
I always think it's funny the way a tug, a fraction of the size of whatever they're pulling, look like they're taking the larger vessel for a walk or trying to control an errant child by making them go THAT way.
Down the other end there was a mild blasting as Crown pulled away from the dock and headed towards the turning circle.  She was going to be a while!
When she was dead on, it was easier to see her missing satellite ball.  I hadn't noticed at the time.  It was only thanks to Vanessa and Sue on Facebook I found out about it when I got home.
My concentration was interrupted numerous times by some bloody seagulls.  They seemed to be having an argument, with one trying to get away from the other but being followed.
As Crown neared her elder sister, it had become eerily quiet at the marina, the silence being broken only by those two having a touch of blast mania!
We made our way home.  Some people remained but we had no idea if they were just enjoying the view or were waiting for Grand to leave since too many got their information from the Echo which is usually out of date by the time it hits the stands.  Grand's time was changed to 7.45pm but, despite singling up around 8.05pm, she didn't leave for another twenty minutes.

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© Patricia Dempsey 5th September 2009
Not to be reproduced without permission