Goodbye Saga Rose
The end of Saga Rose's farewell cruise, which began on the 30th October 2009, was nigh as she returned to Southampton on the 6th December.  Disappointingly they had her scheduled to dock at City Terminal at 6.30am.  The weather was atrocious, and had been for weeks.  I had intended to go and get her coming home but the lack of transport put pay to that.  It turned out to be a lucky escape with the wind occasionally hitting force 10 and some really heavy downpours.  As things turned out she was passing the house at the time she was meant to dock so still have a little over half an hour to go.  As she was disappearing around the houses I heard this opening line on the radio: "Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?"  She was indeed a beautiful girl and it was a shame I was watching from the window.  But I would go and see her later that morning.  My friend Fay was coming over from the Isle of Wight, since she was unable to the next day so this would probably be the last time she would see her.  The provisional departure had changed from the 6th to 13th some weeks earlier yet towards the end of the previous week, it was now the 7th.  The movements, updated on the 5th, also included her for 5pm.  This would be it then.  Whoever they'd sold her to weren't wasting any time.  But what would be her fate?  Fay arrived on the banana for 11.30am and we headed to Mayflower Park.  It may have been sunny but it was freezing and blustery.  Fay bumped into a friend and had a chat then we took our own photos.
After lunch at the cafe on Town Quay we went along the path a bit for some more photos.  She looked so gorgeous basking in the sunshine.  Pity it was so damn cold!

Fay went to catch her non-banana back to the Island and I headed to West Quay to wait for the bus.  Being a Sunday they're annoyingly once an hour.  As I waited I checked my emails and saw a message telling me it looked like Rosie was heading to Alang!  I was overcome with sadness, especially having just left her there.  It's very sad when a much-loved ship leaves anyway.  But at least she won't rot like QE2.  We'd have to see the next day.

The following day, the 7th, there had still been no announcement by Saga about Rosie's untimate fate but they certainly weren't hanging around.  She was still down to depart for 'World' at 5pm.  The weather was atrocious still, a really heavy downpour as we waited on the pier train to go down for the 3.15pm ferry.  As we neared the Red Jet terminal the rain became lighter.  The Hythe ferry pontoon was knackered yet again.  ABP are obsessed with wasting money building a container terminal on Dibden Bay (cruise terminals would be better and ease the infrastructure in the city) while not spending a penny maintaining what they already own.  Town Quay is a disgrace with everything falling apart and it's their responsibility.  Anyway, by the time we set foot outside to head to Mayflower Park, it had stopped raining at last!  The puddles were getting like simming pools though.  We noticed, while Rosie's name was intact, she was flying no flags from her mast, not even the Red Ensign.  Black Prince was the same the day she finally left as Prince.  We couldn't see her registry.

As we waited it drizzled again but thankfully it didn't last long and even the strong winds we'd encountered at Mayflower Park had dropped.  The tug Sussex went up for her and that made it real.  Her strand of party lights came on then went off before they turned them all on.  Sadly her illuminated name sign was off as it had been when she returned the morning before.  She slowly began to move around 5.10pm, her destination Gibraltar and a skeleton crew of sixty-six aboard.  Unfortunately many of my photos are crap due to the angle.  I hadn't taken the tripod because of the forecast gales.  I'd also hurt my knee after seeing her twenty-four hours earlier so that made standing incredibly painful.  So these are the best of the bunch.
She gave three long blasts just like she would if she were going off on a cruise.  She also went from 1.2 knots to an incredible 8.7 knots in my last shot within ten minutes!  That's unheard of!  It's twenty-five minutes average from City Terminal to Hythe pier and she did it all in less than twenty like a bat out of hell!
The damn banana appeared and subsequently blocked the view so we headed to the other side to wait for her to appear around the building.
And then she was gone.  At the beginning of the year she and her sister Ruby gave me mild hypothermia and frostbite.  Almost eleven months later to the day she caused my knee injury.  But there are some ships you go that extra mile for regardless and she's one of them.  She will certainly be missed, especially since, after about six months waiting off Gibraltar for a buyer, she eventually made her way to a breakers in China.  Goodbye Rosie!  I and many others are privileged to have met you in your various incarnations.  You'll never be forgotten.  To see photos of her sailing on her farewell cruise, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 6th & 7th December 2009
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  Updated
14th August 2010