Saturday, 27 July 2013

Back to Civilisation

Saturday July 27th, New York City
40.7N, 74.0W

The last 24 hours were probably the most challenging of the entire voyage from Southampton to New York.  As we came onto the continental shelf a few hundred miles off Boston, and travelled on a rhumb line straight into New York harbour, a force 7 gale was blowing Queen Mary 2 from side to side, creating the roughest seas that we'd encountered on the whole journey.  My final lecture, on the Cassini exploration of the Saturn system, was one of the most challenging I've ever given.  I had to adopt a wide stance, clutching the podium as the lecture theatre pitched from side to side.  This was followed by two live planetarium shows, giving a much smaller audience a tour of the night sky from the comfort of the auditorium, and making the most of the superb system onboard QM2. I received lots of warm feedback at an informal 'meet the speakers' event in the bar that afternoon, and I hope that people learned at least one thing from each of the lectures I gave!

From noon on Friday, when we heard our last navigational announcement from the Commodore at 40.3N, 67W, we travelled the final 280 miles to New York.  The ship was relatively quiet that evening as people packed and prepared for the early morning.  At 04:30 am we passed under the Verrazano-Narrows bridge with our narrow clearance, and by 5 am we were staring out at Manhattan at dawn, with the Statue of Liberty out to the port side and our final destination, Brooklyn cruise terminal, on the starboard.  It was our first glimpse of land and civilisation in almost 7 days, and it was with a mix of emotions that we realised the relaxed and peaceful days at sea were over.  Tugs moved us into place, and we were alongside shortly after 7am.  I bade farewell to the Queen Mary 2, and saw her again later in the day from Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, as she departed for her 202nd crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

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