South Coast & Thames Part 9
Report and pictures by Jenny Longhurst
(Except where stated)
Waverley arrived at Berth 104 at Southampton late on Monday 11 October 2010 to prepare for her prestige sailing to mark the Maiden Voyage of Cunard’s brand new liner. This ship had been named earlier that day by HM The Queen as Queen Elizabeth.
On the Tuesday the public sailing was due to commence at Ryde before Waverley steamed to Portsmouth and back to Southampton to pick up more passengers. This was a very popular cruise and had been sold out for many weeks.
The first view of Queen Elizabeth
Waverley tying up at Berth 104 (Richard Jolliffe)
With all her passengers on board well before the QE’s departure time, Captain Andy O’Brian explained his plan. As QE is a “clear water” vessel there are strict restrictions on other vessels navigating in her proximity. He therefore planned to follow her as closely as possible down Southampton Water. At its mouth, there are two channels. The main deep water channel, which the QE would take, swings west before turning east to avoid the Bramble Bank off Cowes. However, the other channel (which Waverley would take) turns east immediately. This would enable the paddler to get ahead of the Cunarder for a fine view of her as she got up speed.
As soon as QE was eased away from her berth, downstream of Waverley’s, the steamer moved off to follow her. There were a large number of other vessels of all sizes jockeying for position, We got some good side views as QE pulled of the berth and then of the stern as we followed down the channel.
We exchanged blasts with Shieldhall.
Spirit of Portsmouth comes between Waverley and the Queen Elizabeth
The view from Spirit of Portsmouth (Richard Jolliffe)
The view from QE’s top deck (Cunard) More from Cunard’s blog
It was a perfect day for the occasion with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. As planned, the paddler was able to take her short cut and passengers were asked to spread out to even the ship up as we needed both wheels in the water to speed across the corner. This worked well and Waverley’s passengers had a fine view as QE exchanged blasts and sped passed off Ryde.
Note the illuminated name beneath the funnel
Finally the liner disappeared into the distance just as dusk fell, with her lights blazing as she headed for her first port of call of Vigo in Spain. Waverley’s passengers were returned to their departure ports in the same order and then the paddler spent a few hours alongside at Southampton before heading to Weymouth to take enough fuel to get her home to Glasgow, where she arrived late on Thursday night.