Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cunard Royal Rendezvous

After a short tour of the Bronte House, I proceeded to Circular Quay to witness the historic Royal Rendezvous of the Cunard Queens. The 90,000-ton Queen Victoria arrived in Sydney yesterday, and has been docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal since then. Queen Elizabeth 2, on her final Round World Voyage) arrived this morning 7am and docked at Garden Island. (Trivia: QE2's arrival is specially timed to coincide with her maiden visit to Sydney 30 years ago.) At 6pm, the two ships are supposed to leave their berths and pass other at Fort Denison. According to the programme, they'll sound a "Whistle Salute" using their signaling horns, and this can be heard for as far as 16 kms. away. Also, this Royal Rendezvous will be the first and last for these two ships as QE2 leaves the Cunard fleet.

From Circular Quay, I took the elevator up to Cahill Expressway, and took some very nice pictures of Queen Victoria. The size of the ship is truly massive. By 6pm, I took the ferry to Cremorne Point. There are other better vantage points like Bradley Park and Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, though I'm sure they'll be full by now. Just about time, too. The ferry I took was the last one that was able to dock at the wharf. The next incoming one had to wait at the side because the Cunard ships starting moving already. There's such a festive air about. There are hundreds of ships on the water, six or seven helicopters in the air, every available spot on the shore are taken up by happy people. Some are holding up wine glasses, others are peering through binoculars. I was busy taking pictures.

At 6:32pm, the two majestic ships slowly passed on either side of Fort Denison and blew their horns. In a matter of minutes, the moment is gone, and it was all over. I took the next ferry back to Circular Quay, and spent the rest of the day watching these four tugboats push Queen Elizabeth 2 slowly into place at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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