The legendary Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Hudson River in New York City, October 16, 2008, as she departs for the final time.

19 February, 2010

Launching of Q4

Here's my latest eBay purchase, the Launching Day Cover of the the new Cunarder "Q4."  What I find interesting with this postcard is the "Q4" logo above the ship and also in the stamp cancellation.  At the time this was printed, the ship's name had not yet been revealed, although there had been much speculation. 

The "Q4" designation was the internal name of the project by Cunard, the latest in a series of ocean liner designs.  "Q1" was the designation for Queen Mary.  "Q2" was Queen Elizabeth.  "Q3" was the design for the replacement of the first two Queens.  As seen in the internal Cunard rendering below, many of the "Q3" design features found there way into the smaller "Q4" design.

Rendering of Cunard's "Q3" design as depicted in Carol Thatcher's book :"QE2:  Forty Years Famous"

This design was later scrapped, not to be built, in favor of a smaller ship, more versatile ship with the ability to traverse the Panama Canal and do cruising during the off season from the traditional Transatlantic Crossings.  For further discussion on what can now be realistically viewed as a rather ill conceived design that probably would have spelled the end of Cunard, see the discussion here.

Harland and Wolf "Q4" proposal rendering dated November 27, 1964

Cunard revised their design and solicited proposals from several yards including Harland and Wolff, builders of Titanic, and John Brown.  The above rendering was offered for sale on an auction house awhile back and offers a unique view of what may have been.  According to the description, this rendering is dated November 27, 1964, two days before the tender for the "Q4" design was due in to Cunard.  The funnel depicted looks remarkably like the Sagafjord and Vistafjord ships which would later be acquired by Cunard.

The revised ship, with the design untimately awarded to John Brown Shipyard of Clydeback, Scotland was named  "Queen Elizabeth the Second, "infamously on launching day, September 20, 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II and would eventually become the most famous, most traveled ship in the world. 

So how did the unique "2" come to be?  Apparently, according to various sources, the Queen never opened the envelope, which had only the name "Queen Elizabeth" printed on it for the naming ceremony.  Cunard's intention was to name the ship after the first Elizabeth, their common ship naming practice, so technically, as the Queen pronounced, she was Queen Elizabeth the second.  Some would argue, though, that she named the ship after herself!  This left Cunard in a predicament.  They could not name the ship Queen Elizabeth II without angering the Scots who built her, since Scotland did not recognize the first Queen Elizabeth I.  Common folklore is that Cunard came up with the idea to use the Arabic "2" instead of the Roman numeral "II" to get them out of this somewhat sticky situation.  Perhaps this is true, but the true facts may never be known if the Queen takes the real story with her to her grave.  Read more about the naming controversy here.

17 February, 2010

Clydebank Redevelopment

Rendering of the fitting out basin courtesy of

What is missing from this rendering of proposed redevelopment of the former John Brown Shipyard?  Could it be that there is absolutely no reference to the proud shipbuilding heritage of this site?  Even the arctitecture is pretty nondiscript and could be seen just about anywhere in Europe.  This is the fitting out basin, where many famous ships were completed such as the HMS Hood, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2, and the royal yacht Britiannia.  All that remains of the once great John Brown Shipyard is the Titan Crane, now fully restored and open as a tourist attraction, and this fitting out basin.  The slipway is gone, replaced with a community college, but the guides still remain at the waters edge and the designers have outlined the location of the slipway in the treatment of landscaping.

Queen Elizabeth 2, on her launching day, September 20, 1967, being towed into the fitting out basin with the Titan Crane at her bow.

While on QE2's Farewell to the UK cruise, we stopped in Greenock and took an excursion dubbed the "Cunard Heritage Trail", which included a motorcoach ride along the Clyde from Greenock to the Transport museum in Glasgow, followed up with a visit to the former John Brown Shipyard and the restored Titan Crane.  What immediately struck me was the beauty of the Clyde at Clydebank, in particular, but nothing prepared me for the utter destruction I saw of the shipyard.  Nothing remains of the buildings but piles of rubble and steel columns cut off at their bases.  We stood along the fitting out basin after our tour of the Titan Crane and even sat on the bollards that the great ships constructed here were moored to in the basin.  The tour guide even pointed out the modification to the pier, done in brick, to accommodate the first two Queens in the basin.  The basin sits empty, unused, and probably with the public not appreciating the significance of the site.

The Farewell to the UK cruise allowed people of the UK to see their beloved ship, QE2,  for the final time before the ship would leave for a future in Dubai as a floating hotel.   It was also at this time that the financial crisis was hitting and many of us onboard were concerned whether the plans for an extensive conversion to a upscale hotel in Dubai would be affected by this financial crisis.  This concern proved entirely justified as now Dubai is broke, having borrowed heavily to fund their massive build up and buying spree, which included QE2 among other properties.  Reports of massive selloff of assets are in the news now and QE2 always is speculated to be a potential asset to be sold off in the news reporting.  Perhaps the global recession will yield a silver lining; the potential that QE2 could be aquired in this asset selloff and return to her rightful home!  

I know the perfect place for her; the fitting out basin in Clydebank.  QE2 could be the key to revitalizing the waterfront, with some modifications of the long range redevelopment plans that are in place.  She could be operated as a hotel and conference center, perhaps with a museum built alongside of the heritage of the Clyde shipbuilding industry.  She would be THE tourist draw for the area.  I see small excursion boats running from Glasgow to Clydebank and from cruise ships docking in Greenock running up to Clydebank.  Bringing her home also has a few advantages for the ship itself.  No extensive air conditioning modifications would be necessary with the local climate.  She could essentially be opened up "as-is" and run for the time being while tasteful modifications are contemplated to insure her long term financial success.

Sure there are some potential issues to overcome, such as the clearance under the Erskine Bridge, which was built after QE2's launch and does not have the required clearance.  Her funnel and foremast would have to be temporarily removed to clear the bridge.  Then there is the depth of the channel to overcome, but these are all issues that can be overcome, providing there is a will to make it happen.  For this to happen, even if the ship remains owned by Dubaiworld and relocated here, the government probably needs to get more involved.  There is a precident for government intervention here.  The original Queens were partially financed by the government and Queen Mary was untertaken to put workers of the Great Depression back to work.  QE2 also received government financing.  Another idea would see the Soverign Queen Elizabeth II purchase her, bring her back to Clydebank, and have the ship included as one of her historic properties.

As has been reported, QE2's owners are considering and evaluating all their options for their prized posession.  Hopefully, the scenario I have outlined is at least being considered.  More importantly, hopefully local officials are in contact with Dubaiworld for a potential return to Scotland of QE2.  Stay tuned for further blog updates with some updated fitting out basin renderings that are in the works!

13 February, 2010

Liverpool Concert

Here is a video I recently posted of Rod Stewart's "Sailing" as performed by the Band of the Welsh guards.  Two of the pipers of the Band were playing outside the Liverpool Cathedral as we arrived.

07 February, 2010

Mushy Peas

Mushy Peas; not the best sounding name for a food, but one I was eager to try on our first trip to the UK and on our return home via the QE2.  We had our first taste of the dish in London and I've been hooked ever since.  While on the tandem crossing with QV, we made a point to dine in the Golden Lion just to have an authentic pub lunch of fish n' chips and the peas did not disappoint, although the portion was far from adequate.

On our Farewell to the UK trip, we typically were not on the ship during lunch, except for the sea days, so that made it hard to get to the Golden Lion for a traditional pub lunch.  On our final day at sea, we could not get a seat anywhere in the Golden Lion, smoking section or not.  Fortunately, the waiter who we had on our crossing, who's name escapes me, set us to Mauritania Restaurant where they were serving the same fare as the pub that day for lunch.  As luck would have it, we ended up finding our buddy Myles sitting at a table with total strangers.  We were not aware they had no idea who this character Myles was until afterwards, thinking the couple were old friends from a previous trip.  Checking off must do things on QE2, Ryan got to taste Mushy Peas on our last day onboard, in the nick of time! I ended up with the equally taste Cottage Pie that day.

Once back home, I was determined to replicate this simple dish.  A Google search yielded interesting information and several recipes, with the traditional UK versions using marrow fat peas.  Asking for this type of peas at the local supermarket resulted in several puzzled looks but no peas of that type.  The following recipe is my own amalgamation of several recipes and substitution of commonly available frozen peas.  They are simply yummy and to hell with the fat content!  Enjoy!

02 February, 2010

Dubai Tyfon Horn Exchange

Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 met again in Dubai, as I previously posted.  Commodore Warner must have read my post!  As they departed, he took QM2 right up alongside QE2 and gave all onboard a spectacular look at the former FLAGSHIP of Cunard.  The Tyfon horns were very busy!  This video and the pictures are courtesy of Safarigal, Leslie, who I met in New York for QE2's final departure.

01 February, 2010

New YouTube Postings

Over the weekend, I posted three videos on YouTube.  These were taken with my Nikon D90 in video mode, which was a handy feature but not as easy to use as a minicam.  These are raw, unedited, and without any added music.  The camera can record up to 5 minutes in high resolution, but without a tripod, it gets heavy very fast.  Another downside, the camera can not refocus as you pan the camera.  There is just no substitute for a real minicam.  

Here is the view from our five deck cabin porthole on our Farewell to the UK cruise.  Call me crazy, but I just loved this cabin, located down low and above the engines.  In addition, while in several ports, the gangplank was only several cabins away down the passageway.

The second short video is of Queen Elizabeth 2 backing out of her berth at the Manhattan pier for the final time.

The third video, which I'd love to somehow rig up as a screen saver, is a bow view of QE2 on a spectacular day, which happened to be my final full day onboard.