Thursday, October 16, 2008

goodbye old girl

This morning at 4:45 AM, when this post appears, she will cross eastbound under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge for the 710th time. She normally enters in silence, however on this occasion, a whistle salute will mark her arrival in New York. She will pass the Statue of Liberty inbound at 5:30 AM. By 7:00, she will berth at Pier 90, her longtime New York home of so many years.

At 5:00 PM this afternoon, she will raise anchor and depart her pier for the final time. She will receive a tribute from the NYFD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums at Battery Park City Promenade at approximately half past five. At 6:10, she will rendezvous with her younger sister at the Statue of Liberty. Then she will sail out of New York for the last time. It has been thirty nine years since she first touched these shores.

She sailed eastbound full of promise on her Maiden Voyage in May, 1969. She was sparkling new, the last passenger liner to be built at the John Brown shipyards in Clydebank. She was the spiritual descendant of a hundred years of gallant ships, and the immediate replacement for two dearly beloved icons- the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. And to many, she is the very last of the great ocean liners.

But her sailing career is at an end. Thirty-nine years of service, over 5.6 million nautical miles, some two and a half million passengers in all. She has survived freak waves, the Falklands war, an engine conversion in the eighties, and some 25 circumnavigations of the globe. She has had the longest career of any Cunard ship in history. And today she touches New York for the final time, en route home to Southhampton and then a final voyage to Dubai and retirement there as a luxury hotel.

She is as much a part of New York as Rockefeller Center, Liza Minnelli, or Tiffany's.

She is the liner Queen Elizabeth 2, and there will never be another like her. She truly is the last of her epoch.

Goodbye old girl, with gratitude for your years of exemplary service. Your name will be on the short list of ships who truly posessed a soul.

1 comment:

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

I do not believe a man has really lived until he has taken an ocean liner across the Atlantic and stood on an upper deck as it entered the Straits of Gibraltar (preferably stoned thanks to a seminarian from San Francisco) and with 49 seminarians bound for the Vatican. We were re-routed to Genoa because of an outbreak of Cholera in Naples. My classmate from Nebraska watched as his trunk fell into the Mediterranean during the unloading. I'll never be that young again, but, to have had those moments....