Arcadia (IV), Queen Mary 2 & Queen Elizabeth (II)
Three world cruise returnees on the 27th April 2012 in the form of Arcadia, who arrived first and docked in Mayflower for 5.45am.  She was followed by Mary, unusually in City and Betty in Ocean, both for 6pm.  It was the fourth time Mary had been in City - 10th October 2008 and 8th Aptil 2009 were scheduled previously while the 1st November 2010 was a change of berth from Ocean.  We debated going down but decided not to and good job since after Mary passed, the heavens opened!
We went over on the 3.50pm ferry because we wanted the STAR from Mayflower Park.  The other scheduled times in City, I'd got her from the marina (though in 2008 I took docked pictures in the Park) so this would be better.  For most of the month, the weather had been wet, windy and horrible and this day was forecast the same so we wrapped up warm and packed the brollies.
Mayflower Park was quite busy but not to the extent you fought for a good spot or tried to dodge wazzocks getting in the way.  Despite dark ominous clouds appearing and wind whipping up from time to time, it didn't rain.  I knew people on both Cunarders so hoped it would go to plan and save me moving about too much with my back.  All three were due to sail at the usual 4.30pm but my friend Rob Ellerington Parr (who was unable to get down) kept me updated.  Mary was delayed till 5pm so Betty went first, about fifteen minutes late and gave three long blasts followed by two burps.  At the same time, Arcadia was moving from Mayflower and she did pretty much the same, having a mini horn battle when she neared Mary!
And then there was one and what did I hear at 5.10pm?  Bloody muster!  Thankfully they raced through it and off she buggered at half past, after some ropes were untangled.  Just as she came dead on, she let rip.  Her whistle seems to have changed to something deeper.  As she reached pier head, she gave three more.  The 6pm ferry appeared and with my back aching like hell, we couldn't rush.
So back home, catching the 6.30pm ferry instead and I spied a big lady passing Calshot.  Further down the Solent past Cowes, Arcadia was also in view, having turned around and seemingly returning!  It could have been a Medivac.
To see photos of the Cunarders sailing on their world cruise in January 2012, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 27th April 2012
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