I’ve finally arrived where I’m often told my accent places me. In the Mid-Atlantic.
On board the Queen Mary 2, this glittering Ark of nearly three thousand people, about a third are from Britain, a third are from the US and a third are from thirty nine other countries. There are also five dogs and three cats, who managed to hold up our departure by three hours as they didn’t have DEFRA clearance. They were carted off to a vet in New Jersey who did the necessary tests and returned them three hours later with a British bill of health.
Meanwhile we unhurried passengers with six days to spare, savoured a magnificent sunset over Manhattan and Miss Liberty, then enjoyed a slow cruise up New York Harbour, past the sparkling spectacle of Coney Island and under the Verrazano Bridge where the lights of greater New York slowly gave way to a rising roof of stars on a spectacularly clear evening.
One of my favourite aspects of the voyage so far is the fact that the clocks go forward by one hour each day when noon becomes 1pm. So I’m not sure if noon technically exists at all on this trip. (Paging Stephen Hawking.)
At that mysterious non-hour each day the Captain gives a 15 minute talk on the tannoy to the whole ship describing our course, our conditions and what ships we’ve passed in the night. Who knew this vast featureless ocean had so much topographical variety and so many visitors passing through going about such interesting business?
For the first two days we’ve followed a northerly course tracking the coast of North America to Newfoundland. From St Pierre Island we took a North Easterly course across The Grand Banks and into the Laurentian Channel. Yesterday, we passed the notorious Sable Island, a shallow, shape shifting sandbank known as the graveyard of the Atlantic, which claims the ghosts of over three hundred wrecked ships and is somehow home to over four hundred wild ponies.
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Last night we made a close pass by the Stena IceMAX which is the world’s first dynamically positioned, dual mast harsh environment drillship, capable of drilling in water of depths of up to 10,000ft. It was headed to Nova Scotia, apparently, on a mission we can only imagine.
At 9pm this evening we passed close to the site where the Titanic went down, having hit an iceberg at 11.40pm on April 4th 1912. At about that time, after a fantastic evening of jazz, where the band played on and on, I opened my balcony window to the cold and increasingly swelling seas, loud and limitless not twenty feet below, and tried to imagine how that might have been. Round Midnight, I said a prayer for those 1500 souls.