Independence of the Seas, THV Patricia (III), Queen Mary 2 & Queen Elizabeth (II)
The 10th January 2012 saw the return of Queen Mary 2 from her Caribbean cruise.  She had already picked up Americans for her world cruise and now she was home, picking up more.  I hadn't seen her since she went to refit, due to being in the Caribbean myself, so missed the Hamilton disfigurement on her fat bum.  I daresay I'll get used to it.  After all, I did with P&O and most lines have flags of convenience.  But it was lovely having Southampton flashing on it to the world.  Betty was in too, facing the wrong way as usual in Mayflower, which was pretty stupid with 6pm departures for both plus firework display.  Time wasting means it takes twice as long.  New Year's resolution for agents and/or ABP - NO STARBOARD IN MAYFLOWER TERMINAL!!!!  Ta muchly.  Indy was going at 4.30pm while THV Patricia was due to arrive for 6.15pm.  It was the second time in five days I'd seen her, and Betty was in that day too!  Weather was a bit different this time thankfully.  I hoped they would bring Betty's departure forward, otherwise she wouldn't get to Dock Head until 6.50pm - if she left on time!  But, by the time she had followed Indy and Mary in, it hadn't changed.  Several hours later it had been and was now 5.15pm with Mary still 6pm.  Weather was a bit worrying as there were a couple of brief showers but thankfully that was all.  Indy slipped out a couple of minutes early and blasted three times as she passed Town Quay.  Unfortunately most of these photos came out crap.  I couldn't stand where I wanted to to help ease my back, thanks to some annoying fairweathers, so had to struggle in pain, making it difficult to keep the camera still.  Patricia almost sneaked in, only spotting her when Indy was in front of me as she went behind the big monster.  Would have helped if her funnel was lit.
It's amazing how many dumbo fairweathers thought the Cunarders were going at 4.30pm because they read it on the internet.  Inaccurate cruise schedule????  None of these people, past or present, ever look at the movements.  Because the 6pm fireworks would be held by Moorhead Buoy near Hythe pier instead of by or on Ocean or City terminals as usual, we needed to try and find a good place for when they left.  We didn't know if they'd hold off or what either so it was difficult, even more so with a ruddy great dredger alongside the pontoon!  We went across to the other side of the lock and as I was trying to work out the best position to photograph with crappy tripod (hate them!) and which rock was sticking in my bum the least, my dad went to find the toilets.  Then he reappeared along with three men who were heading in my direction.  They changed course slightly when my dad spoke to the security guard but after he'd walked off towards the lock, they began heading my way again.  So I grabbed the bag and tripod, holding it so I could do someone some damage if they tried anything, and they began following the security guard.  For once I was glad to have the crappy thing.  We kept up with them, one constantly looking over at me.  They even asked the security guard for directions.  Once they'd gone, we went to him and he'd seen their actions so was onto them, calling to the lock keeper to get pictures of them as they crossed the lock.  Not knowing whether they would do a circuit and return, we went back the other side.  They need more lights the Dibden Bay side but won't do anything.  I dread to think what could have happened if the security guard hadn't been around.  My dad made sure I wasn't left alone again but there are more lights and people the seat side.  We saw the Wilcarry 250 barge being pushed by the tug, Wilcat, then stop just past the pier so we headed to the corner to set things up and wait.  Mary called at 5.50pm to say she'd be going at 6pm and Betty FINALLY shifted her backside towards the Upper Swinging Ground!  Mary singled up bang on 6pm and I overheard a woman say, "It's six o'clock now, they must be running late."  No!  Mary gave quite a few deep growls on and off, as opposed to normal blasting, and took an unbelievable thirty-five minutes to back out and straighten, thus giving Betty time to catch up for the fireworks.  Mary zoomed along towards the pier and sailed straight past the barge!  We wondered if they were going to have the display but once she was safely out the way, Betty gave three blasts and they started.  This really was unusual as well because both ships continued to sail as they went off.  The bloke on the bench next to us was talking to someone aboard Betty and asked, "Are the fireworks coming from the ship?"  Duh!
Mary gave more growls on and off but Betty never did any.  On the way back, an old woman called us from her balcony, telling us not only had they never done it before and the fireworks weren't for the world cruises, but one ship was coming in and the other going out.  They hadn't done it THERE before, but she wouldn't have it they always have fireworks for this on the basis she'd lived there more than twenty years.  So that was them gone until the 27th April and time to warm up.  To see photos of the Queens return, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 10th January 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission
27th April 2012