Oriana (II), Queen Mary 2 & Queen Victoria
A starboard trio in Southampton on the 20th April 2009.  Oriana and QM2 returned after previously being together on the 8th, while Queen Victoria came back from her world cruise.  Originally it was just her listed as starboard, then they added Oriana before finally Mary.  Well after the reversals during the last six months of 2008 and missing Mary do it both times in the August, we had to go just in case even though we weren't intending to.  The weather was mild but a bit chilly at times but quite hazy as usual in April.

I was slightly reminded of almost exactly a year before when QE2 (and Pacific Princess) were in with the Cunarders.  Mary was starboard that day too, ready to go up to Western Docks.  Hard to believe two out of those three bearing the Cunard name were still sailing the oceans.  Shortly before Mary's eight bells for muster, the Ellen MacArthur Trust yacht, Scarlet Oyster, appeared from the marina.  Oriana was due to sail at 4.30pm with Mary and QV both for 5pm.  However as soon as we heard QV's farting bagpipes horn at 4.45pm, we knew she was going to be late.

As we waited, the crew did their own drill as a lifeboat was lowered.  Once in the water, its little engine roared as the crew carried out what they had to before raising it again.

5pm came around and Oriana's stern ropes had long since gone yet she was still sitting there.  She's fired up several times, making us think she was finally off.  Then Mary's ropes began to be thrown and they moved around the same time, each giving three blasts.

Once Mary was in the channel, she gave the three short blasts to signal reversing we'd expected before she moved, like Lizzie had in October.  Despite the odd patches of sun, it was a shame the weather hadn't been like that day.  As exciting as it was getting Mary going backwards, she didn't have the sleekness and grace of her predecessor.  It was still one hell of an impressive sight though, shifting that enormous backside around Dock Head like it was nothing.

Once Mary was almost straightened, she let out three long, raspy blasts before continuing her journey out and back to New York.

Oriana blasted to QV, whose virtually silent farty bagpipes were easily drowned out by the hi-speed Isle of Wight ferry which was heading towards the Royal Pier, while we still heard Oriana.

After Oriana had given one more blast and followed Mary out, we turned our attention briefly to QV, who was slowly moving away from the dock.

Since normally those needing to turn around from 101 (as well as 106) have to go to the turning circle, we decied not to stay for QV.  However, as I stopped to wait for my dad to catch up, I noticed the bitch was pirouetting between terminals!  Couldn't leave now since it was unusual shots.  Grrr!  We got talking to a man taking photos for his partner which helped make the delay in going home more bearable.

As the Red Funnel approached QV on the way to Town Quay, it gave a solitary parp.  After a short while, it had a response as they carried on their way.

So that was the end of a very interesting stalking day and we finally headed home to warm up a bit since it had become cooler.  Just a shame one Cunarder was missing.

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© Patricia Dempsey 20th April 2009
Not to be reproduced without permission