Black Watch (III), Balmoral, Aurora & Queen Victoria
Four ships on the 21st December 2013 when there were only meant to be three.  Due to bad weather, Black Watch was moved from City Terminal to Ocean on the 20th, finally sailing at 2.30pm.  Balmoral and Aurora were in Western Docks.  I was going to drop a case off to my friend Stella Eaton, who joined Queen Victoria month before.  Unfortunately, she was on In Port Manning, meaning she was unable to get off the ship until 2.30pm.  She'd applied for a pass for me and we'd find out soon enough if it had been granted or was just too late.  Stella was new to all this but I knew where to go, crew entrance at the terminal and pass office, from my five visits to QE2 in 2008 courtesy of my ex-boyfriend, Patrick Patton, who I met when he played piano on the ship.  I took a local taxi (which turned up fifteen minutes late!) from my house to the terminal and waited in the bitter cold caused by the strong winds.  I saw Black Watch slip out while I waited and I wasn't quick enough to get her bum passing Vicky's bow as we neared the pass office.  After getting the pass, I spotted her in the distance so took a quick couple before following Stella through the crew area.  The wind and rain was horrendous and, after lugging her case (which felt like it had the kitchen sinks from Sydney AND Vancouver inside) up the gangway to the Grand Lobby (oh for the flat QE2 one!!!!) and dumping it in her cabin, we went for a brief tour around the ship and some of the crew areas.  The wind prevented us walking around the Prom deck so we went back in.  So, once my 35 minutes was up, we said goodbye and I headed back to the pass office, just making it before the deadline.  A taxi was called to take me to West Quay where I just missed the 9, which was pulling out, then home to dry off.
Because the weather was so crap, we didn't go down to watch them sail.  Though typically, the bloody rain stopped!  Balmoral was scheduled for 4.30pm and went slightly late, assisted by Lomax and Surrey.  Aurora and Vicky were 6pm, which Aurora went first with the help of Bentley and Surrey.  Vicky had Sarah and Ferriby but had a few problems before going astern and off she went.
To see more photos of Queen Victoria from my visit in 2009, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 21st December 2013
Not to be reproduced without permission