Azura, Black Watch (III) & Ventura
P&O's new White Sisters were both in port together for the first and only time this year on the 10th April 2010, also joined by pretty little Black Watch, who was starboard in QEII.  Ventura had become a subject of much frustration over the previous week.  The movements listed her as sailing at 7pm instead of 4.30m.  She would also be starboard.  This seemed such a bad idea because, 1) it would take twice as long to reach her sister in Ocean Dock, 2) the fireworks for the naming of Azura weren't scheduled until 8.20pm, by which time Ventura would be long gone and, 3) there'd be no big crowds at that time of night since only ship nuts would hang around an hour afterwards.  On the 6th, the time was changed back to the original, which made more sense.  So on the 10th they would both have blast mania to a big crowd.  Black Watch arrived first at 6.15am and docking starboard and was followed by Ventura fifteen minutes later.  I'd already planned to go over for pics of Azura's Southampton bum and Black Watch, but since Fay was coming over from the Island, I caught the slightly earlier ferry.  As I walked down the pier on a gorgeously warm spring day meaning I could wear a T-shirt and summer jacket (wow!), I spotted Ventura was the right way round - yay!  Home sooner!  

I caught the 2.20pm ferry and, as I waited at the front of the queue, the new crew came down and boarded Hotspur - another yay!  This was becoming a great day.  Meanwhile as we waited for the passengers to finish boarding, Fay's Red Funnel passed.  When we cast off, we crossed right over until we were almost dead on with Black Watch's gorgeous rear, following Fay across the blue to Southampton.

After meeting Fay at Town Quay, we went for a wander to get a closer look at the newest Southampton girl. Some loud music came from Azura briefly while Fay spotted the dolphin nose being cleaned.
We chatted to a bloke for a while, who it transpired had been on the maiden voyage of Independence of the Seas as well, then returned to Town Quay. I caught the 3.30pm ferry back to Hythe while she went on the 4pm to Cowes.
After two round trips, Hotspur was put back to bed - awww.  But it was lovely I did her first and last crossings of the day.  Considering how crowded it was coming back, with so many taking photos of the ships, she should have stayed running until they'd gone.  By now it had become much colder as I made my way to the ferry yard to wait for my dad, who was on the bus.  We wandered down to the marina and it was fairly busy.  Black Watch cast off on time and reversed into the Itchen to turn, giving three short blasts after she was moving.  Instead of doing a tight turn as Boudicca had when she did it, she went quite some way before turning.  Perhaps it was due to the wind.  But we certainly missed the cranes.  Keeping an eye on them told us when something was moving, especially in Western Docks.
Very annoyed I failed to get this central. My lens cap kept hitting the camera in the wind, driving me nuts, and making me lose concentration.

There was no sign of movement from Ventura and her flags were still up.  Checking the movements on VTS I discovered the bastards had put the departure BACK to 7pm!  I wasn't the only unhappy one who'd gone just for that.  So we packed up, left the cold and wind, got some chips then went home.  We didn't go back and will do the next meeting in 2011.  Meanwhile Azura was named by Darcey Bussell, one blast just after 8.30pm and the fireworks commenced for a good ten minutes.


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© Patricia Dempsey 10th April 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission