ANCHORS, DECK WARS & AUTHORS
DAY 96 - 16 APRIL 2023 (SHIP'S date)
ENROUTE TO TENERIFE, SPAIN
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2
BEHIND THE SCENES (Part 1 of 3)
Once in every segment of the World Voyage, the Behind the Scenes Tour takes place. Availability is extremely limited and only around a dozen passengers per event are able to experience what is undoubtedly the most informative and fascinating tour on the ship. The tour requires physical mobility and a certain level of endurance to walk for a whole afternoon along concrete surfaces below decks, to climb ladders and avoid passageways with low head clearances. It is necessary to sign a comprehensive disclaimer before undertaking the tour. Details of upcoming tours are announced in the Daily Programme and a wait list is opened. Those passengers fortunate enough to be invited on the tour are in a for a memorable experience.
Leaving behind the plush carpeting and brass and wood surfaces guests are familiar with, Entertainment department members, Elizabeth Howard, Charlie Stewart and Greta Elbracht, escort us down to Deck 1 where Deputy Captain Matthew Nichols is waiting to meet us.
On the Mooring Deck he starts by apologising for the smell of paint. “To make the area guest friendly, the painting department decided to give the deck a once over. They also sent a man with a brush and bucket of red paint to touch up items signalling Danger. The danger today being that the paint is still wet, so beware of standing too close and getting wet red paint on your clothing.”
The Deputy Captain pointed out the lines which are used to tie the ship up in port, there are 8 lines forward and 8 lines aft. Automatic tension on the huge coils of rope maintain pressure to stop the ship moving once secured. Dock workers fix the heavy lines and the ropes which are capable of holding 105 tons are pulled to just 10 tons, one tenth of their weight capacity. Next rat guards are attached to prevent shipyard rodents climbing the ropes to enter the ship. To the relief of many passengers, me included, the Deputy Captain assured us that in all his years at sea, he had never seen a rat on a ship.
On the Mooring Deck, the anchors are encased inside automatic winding equipment. Queen Mary 2 has 23 tons of anchors including two windless anchors. A chain lock couples with red shackles allowing accurate measuring of the length of cable unbound into the ocean. Anchors are lowered to the water line and regulated by a heavy pin, a piece of equipment called ‘the bitter end’ ensuring the anchor is in its designated area and not obstructed by anything on the sea bed. When the order is given “Anchors Away”, at the touch of a button, the anchor and cable automatically rewind into their metal casing and the rope lines are recoiled to await the next port of call.
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Deck Wars - Annual Crew Tug of War
Crew and passengers turned out to cheer on teams in the Annual Crew Tug of War on a windy afternoon on Deck 12. All was fair in love and tug of war until it was revealed that one team won their place in the Finals while sporting an illegal team – one member over the limit.
The heat was re-staged and the winning teams confirmed. Congratulations to the Ladies Spa Team and the Men’s Deck Team for their spirited rope pulling. The Captain presented the prize – a statue of a knot which the winning team keeps until the next competition.
AUTHORS ON BOARD
Always happy to hear about the creative endeavours of QM2 passengers. Nancy Gene Giles is the author of a book titled The Accidental Deputy – Navigating the 60’s With a Badge and a follow up Healing in the 70’s – With a Badge.
The book retells her life and experiences as a female Deputy Sherriff in the city of Columbus, Ohio. She now lives in Florida. Nancy presented a talk on the contents of the book and there was not a spare seat in the house. She talks with humour about her role in law-keeping and some of the bad
guys she took down - but the subject that attracts the most interest and questions –how do you carry out the duties of a Deputy Sheriff –when pregnant? Nancy seemed to manage pretty well!
Talking Books with Author Steve Gay
As Queen Mary 2 traversed the Suez Canal on her Centenary World Voyage, author Steve Gay and his wife Helen, were on our sister ship, Queen Victoria, making its passage through the Panama Canal. On arrival in Sydney, Australia, they disembarked Victoria and undertook an 11-day vacation while they waited for Queen Mary 2 to arrive in Sydney en route back to Southampton and ultimately New York.
“My wife refuses to fly,“ says Steve, “and as we both had the Panama Canal on our Bucket Lists, we took the opportunity to hop on and hop off two Cunard Queens half way around the world.”
Steve is a native of the Midlands town, Rugby in Warwickshire, and it is in this region that the unfolding story or his first novel takes place. The book is set in 1940 during the Second World War and offers a unique perspective on a national catastrophe that British people who lived through the war, or are familiar with the history of the German Luftwaffe raids on England, remember all too vividly. Coventry and its aircraft and munitions factories was a target for the German bombers and in one night in 1940 the medieval town was destroyed with hundreds of lives lost and buildings reduced to rubble. Steve took this unforgettable story of death and destruction and recreated a wartime story of tragedy and loss that impacted everyone in his tight knit family unit and wider community.
Steve based his historical fiction, The Birds that do not Sing (published by Rook Abbey Press), primarily on conversations with his father who set the scene for the prevailing opinions and partisanship in the war when differing points of view did not exist peaceably. Steve’s book is elegantly constructed, tackling brave and contentious subjects such as conscientious objectors, pacifists and religious abstainers, Steve Gay has written a thought-provoking novel where conflicting emotions of everyday people are viewed through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy.
The boy’s father, Henry Brown, is a militant trade unionist; Jimmy, is brother to Fred, a “conchie”, sisters Vera, an independent spirit, and Kate, a member of the Peace Pledge Union, who is disabled, having caught polio. Jimmy retains his loyalty to his father but runs into trouble when up against other adults; in one classroom incident, he repeated his dad’s opinion of Churchill as a ‘Warmonger” and his punishment of 100 handwritten lines produced far reaching consequences.
The book introduces us to Jimmy as an old man, consumed by grief and anger over decisionstaken as a child. Proving that fact is stranger than fiction, the boy Jimmy seeks companionship and insight from a three-foot high concrete elephant his father made, which stood by the garden pond.
During the writing of the book, Steve was given information that the wartime elephant existed. And, still lived in the garden of a property in his hometown. Steve tracked down the elephant and wove the reclaiming of the elephant into later stages of the book when an 82-year-old Jimmy, mourns unfinished business from his childhood and can find no peace. Steve was reintroduced to the elephant and in a real-life twist the local paper ran a story on the Reappearance of the Wartime Elephant.
Completing his first novel, The Birds That Do Not Sing, earned Steve a Master’s degree from Warwick University. “The time came when I could not put off any longer following my dream of being a full-time writer. I’d spent all my adult life in a profession, finance, that paid the bills but did not give me creative satisfaction. I had my epiphany while commuting on a train from Rugby to London. I was reading the trilogy, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. I dreaded coming to the end of the series, it had taken my mind off the fact that I was doing a job that I no longer wanted to do. Too often at Board meetings, I found myself staring out of the window, wishing I could escape.
“My wife supported me in my decision to retire from business and go back to university.“ Steve followed his dream and he and his wife signed up for the Cunard World Voyage. In his book, 10-year-old, Jimmy trusts the guidance given by the concrete elephant. “I’m pretty sure I know what the elephant would say to me,“ Steve explains, “It’s your life. Remember Newton’s First Law. Keep going until an unknown force makes you change direction. Follow your Quest. “
Steve is doing that and on the current World Voyage he is busy writing his third book.
A sci-fi novel. “Beam me up, Captain,”
Happy Sailing... Ellen
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Current position of Queen Mary 2: Under way from Walvis Bay to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife)
Departure was 5 d 19 hrs 13 min ago. (at 19:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 2 d 18 hrs 47 min. (at 08:00 h local time)
Traveled distance since Walvis Bay: 2,669.76 nm (4,944.39 km)
Remaining distance to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife): 1,276.79 nm (2,364.61 km)
Traveled distance since Cape Town: 3,453.65 nm (6,396.16 km)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.