Prince (Formerly Black Prince (II)) Leaves
"Remember, remember the 5th of November", the old saying goes.  That applies to when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliment in 1605.  But in 2009 it will be remembered as the date Black Prince became just Prince and took on bunkers in readiness for a long journey ahead.  I'd received a phone call just after 7.30pm from my friend Andy telling me of the latest developments.  Checking the AIS, it would appear she was registered with the new name by 11.20am.  Since it was dark there wasn't a lot I could do so waited until the morning of the 6th to have a look for myself.  It was pretty cold but thankfully not raining.  The warship USS Ramage was in Ocean Terminal and being towed to Mayflower.  She had been at Charlie anchorage four days earlier when Oasis turned up in the Solent and no one knew what she was doing here.
The most curious thing about this was only the Red Ensign was flying from the mast.  Since the name had been changed it was obvious Fred Olsen had sold her.  But to whom?  Did Saveca finally get approval and come up with the goods?  Or had they just got fed up waiting and paying indefinite berthing fees so they took the money from an Indian ship breaker?  She was still listed to sail on the 9th but that was all info available.  That had already been changed on the 3rd when she was supposed to leave.
What we didn't realise as we neared Town Quay was that they were about to commence a crew drill.  I took the shot of the lifeboat to get the name, not noticing it was being lowered.
We watched the US warship being towed for a few minutes then went back in the warm.  As we were having a bite to eat, we heard one loud blast and wondered what it was.  Couldn't see anything so went to wait for the 10.30am ferry.  Getting there we spotted them in the lifeboat so told Claire we'd get the one afterwards and went further along to watch.  She gave another blast while we were there which was nice.
We went back to the ferry and speculated over her fate with Claire.  It's frustrating not knowing where she's going or definitely when after what's now three weeks since the end of her final cruise.  It began to spit on the ferry trip back but thankfully held off from anything heavy.  Drill was also over.
So we went home, another day in the current Southampton life of Black Prince was over.  Would she actually be sailing on the 9th?  Would it be brought forward yet again?  At least things were finally happening even though we still didn't know the answers.  At least until later that afternoon.  I'd not long finished the previous photos when I looked at the movements - she was listed for 6pm!  We had our answer - unless the bugger ended up staying even longer!  We made a mad dash to the bus in the wind, cold and rain and caught the 4.45pm ferry to Town Quay and bumped into Gary and Allan as we queued to get off.  Great to see them again but pity about the bloody weather!  I would need three hands - two for the camera and one holding an umbrella!  She was delayed, Red Jets and Great Expectations coming and going.  The rain even stopped once before coming down heavier.  GET A MOVE ON!!!!!!
We had decided to catch the 7.30pm ferry back regardless of what the bugger was doing.  Thankfully at 7pm, an hour late, she finally began to move backwards.  The Itchen Marine Tug, Wyeforce, was around if needed, like it had been when she moved there eight days earlier.  Her destination was St Kitts, the correct direction since Fred Olsen had issued a statement at some point confirming the sale for those cruises as Ola Esmeralda.
Now it really was the end.  Five weeks after her farewell cruise, three after she returned (also in the cold and dark) and two since she was supposed to have originally left.  Goodnight, sweet Prince.  To see photos of her setting off on her last cruise for Fred Olsen, click here.  Or arriving back, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 6th November 2009
Not to be reproduced without permission