Sunday, September 14th 2014 – Noon (BST-4)
Position at Noon
|Course & Speed||248° / 20.0 Knots|
|Distance Since Noon Yesterday||513 Nautical Miles|
|Distance From Southampton||2804 Nautical Miles (Avg. 20.5 Knots)|
|Distance to go to Sandy Hook (NY)||264 Nautical Miles|
|Wind Direction & Force||North / North West 4|
|Air Temperature||19°C / 66°F|
|Sea Temperature||19°C / 66°F|
|Atmospheric Pressure||1020.1 Millibars|
|Depth of Water||164 Feet|
|Miles Run in Gym since Noon Yesterday||5.5 miles|
|Total Miles Run in the Gym||26.2 Miles (QM2 Marathon)|
This afternoon we would sail our Rhumb line course to New York southeast of Nantucket Island and we would enter the westbound traffic lane heading to New York Harbour.
By the early hours of tomorrow morning we would be entering the Sandy Hook pilot boarding area, marking the traditional end of the Atlantic Passage. A local harbour pilot would board at this position assisting us through the Ambrose Channel and underneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge which our funnel would (probably) clear by just 4 metres.
Sunday, September 14th 2014 – Afternoon
Lunch was a proper Sunday affair,- beef and yorkshire pudding, and we had it in the King’s Court. After that I popped out for another walk around the decks.
When I got back my wife was sitting in her favourite place but with an older guy sitting opposite. He was an American WW2 veteran and a mere 90 years old. He had married a British girl and served in Italy. He told us all about it.
He cried a bit when he talked about it but he was impressed that I knew the words to “We’ll meet again” and we sang it together. He was coming back from his annual holiday in Switzerland. He hated flying, swore by the QM2 (this was his 10th trip) and told us he wouldn’t use any other ship.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and sun bathing (It now being back to 19 degrees) at the stern and watching that wonderful wake in the sea.
We ended up in the Jacuzzi on the top deck. We were totally alone. Once again it was an amazing feeling of space. It felt just like being on a private yacht rather than on a ship with 2,400 people below us.
Returning to the cabin our minds began to think about disembarking the next day. To be honest, It wasn’t really something either of us we were looking forward to.
There was a fight for the laundry machines but we made it in the end and got all our items washed.
I lay on the bed relaxing watched my wife packing.
Sunday, September 14th 2014 – Evening
We managed to finish off the Wine (we had brought too much) and collected the laundry. We headed for our last drink in the Commodore Club. Almost as if to celebrate our last day on board it was truly a magnificent sunset
We then headed to the theatre for yet another highlight. This was to be a ship version of “Last Night of the Proms” with the National Symphony Orchestra.
After that we had a sad farewell dinner of vegetable soup and rack of lamb. We said goodbye to Terry and Janet. They had been wonderful dinner companions all week. Whilst we might have had the energy to dance the whole scene seemed like it was quieting down and there was no one in G32. We would have an early start so we went to bed.
The clock went back for the 5th and final time.
The alarm went off at 3.30am (new time) and we woke suddenly.
Monday, September 15th 2014 – 3.30am (BST-5)
Still sleepy, I peered over the balcony window. It was still dark but the first time in almost a week I could see land. The lights of the New Jersey shore had come into view. The ship was proceeding up the Ambrose Channel (blue line on the map below) at about 15 knots. There were flashing buoy markers laid down creating an illuminated path towards the large illuminated suspension bridge in the distance.
This was the Verazzano Bridge and it links Staten Island to Brooklyn. It is right at the mouth of New York harbour. The bridge and I are the same age, so the bridge is old enough to have witnessed the comings and goings of RMS Queen Mary a few times before her retirement in 1967.
QM2 and the bridge have a special relationship; her height is limited only by the need to pass under the bridge. Her funnel is squat and curtailed in height specifically to pass under the bridge with just 3 metres to spare.
The thing to do, even at 3:45am, is to go out on the top deck and watch that funnel clear the bridge. By 3:40am we were on deck 12 just in front of the funnel. We were not alone, and more than 200 people were up there with us.
First we all watched in awe as the radar mast seemed that it would hit the bottom of the bridge. That was an optical illusion and it cleared. We then turned to see the funnel (looking relieved) do the same. We went in for some much needed cocoa and then half an hour later returned and watched as the Statue of Liberty came into view.
At 5:30 I was already back in bed as the ship manoeuvred in front of Battery park and turned around into its berth at Brooklyn Cruise terminal. After 7 days in use the engines were switched off and the ship was totally silent. I went back to sleep for an hour or so.
As I woke up at 8am the ship was moored fast to the jetty. Our cabin view was certainly “Brooklyn” and the ship had started to take on fuel from the oil tender. People were already getting off.
We needed to be out of the Cabin by 8:30 so we walked up to the Kings Court for our last breakfast. After breakfast we walked around the decks and took some photos of the New York Skyline. We noticed that the Red Ensign was flying from the stern of the ship now.
There was no doubt about it; we were very sad to leave. Some people were staying on board. Before last week I wondered if anyone could really enjoy a full 14 day return trip. Now it seemed a perfectly natural thing to do.
We had decided to forgo the porter service (that would have meant a wait until 11am) and had elected to “self carry” our stuff. We gathered our bags and, saying goodbye to Joseph, we left our cabin. We made our way back to the main foyer and down towards the exit. I paused and patted the hull. I will be back and next time it will probably be a kiss.
After 7 days at sea being on land was a bit of a shock, but the people at the Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn were friendly enough and even immigration was a vast improvement on the snaking lines at JFK.
After a 20 minute wait we were through all the procedures and out into a wonderfully sunny 27 degree New York day. There were yellow taxi cabs waiting for us as we stepped out. We got into one and headed over the Brooklyn Bridge into the city.
But there was a little bit of the journey missing.
Rather than turning right at Battery Park and heading over to Brooklyn as we had done, the traditional route for liners was to head up the Hudson River for a few more miles and then tie up on the West Side (as in West Side Story) of Manhattan.
In the 1920’s the whole west side of Manhattan was lined with numbered finger piers occupied by the Ocean Liners of the world.
Although smaller liners still dock in Manhattan, QM2 is deemed a bit too large to go up and down the Hudson. She does do it occasionally when Brooklyn is occupied by other ships, but generally her passengers are now denied that last little bit of the journey. My wife wasn’t bothered about missing the last bit at all. I was though, and I had a cunning plan.
Our hotel was conveniently located in Chelsea close to the West side. After checking in, we wandered down through the Art Gallery District to the Chelsea Piers near 14th Street.
Lengthened in 1911 to take the 800 foot length of RMS Olympic these are a few of the last remaining such piers in New York. Piers 58-60 have been preserved and turned into a sports complex. We wandered by and took a look at the Marina.
After that we ventured down, via several delicatessens, to the World Trade Centre. After looking at the new 9/11 memorial we walked the short distance to the World Financial Centre pier and paid $9 for a ferry ticket to Weehawken New Jersey.
The commuter ferry “Bayonne” (Bayonne as in The Sopranos) took up the baton pretty much where QM2 had left it a few hours earlier. Whilst not as opulent as a Cunard vessel, Bayonne was fast and whizzed us up the Hudson all the way to Weehawken NJ on the opposite side of the river.
Weehawken sits directly across the river from 53rd street in New York. So, directly opposite Weehawken are Piers 89-90. These were built in 1935 for the coming of the 1,000 foot ships like RMS Queen Mary. They still stand and are still used by Cruise Liners today.
We didn’t stay in Weehawken long. We stayed just long enough to buy a ticket directly back across the river. Back on the Manhattan side we walked up to Pier 89 and looked up at the MV Regatta berthed in exactly the same place RMS Queen Mary used to dock.
At last I was satisfied that the journey from London Waterloo was complete. I looked at my watch. It was 5.30pm and it was time for a beer.
Over the next 4 days, we enjoyed ourselves in New York and Long Island, but our thoughts kept returning to our long journey. We both agreed that the thing that we missed more than anything was the beauty of the Atlantic.
I don’t think I would be tempted to go on a cruise or on a cruise ship. Certainly the idea of stopping at a different port each day doesn’t interest me at all.
I will, however, certainly return to the North Atlantic and, of course, I will be back on QM2.
She is, after all, the only way to Cross!