Farewell Arcadia

United Kingdom's flag
Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cambridgeshire » March
April 22nd 2020
Published: April 22nd 2020
Edit Blog Post

Farewell Arcadia!

Day 57 - Wednesday 8th April, 2020

Today we’ll be anchoring out at Tenerife.

When we opened the curtains we were still sailing, but by breakfast time we were anchored. Looks like a nice day but only forecast about 20 degrees. We had to wait for the fuel shop to come out to refuel us. Not happening quite as quickly as captain had anticipated but soon it was alongside and refuelling started. This meant that the refuelling side was cordoned off for safety and there was no smoking on the decks. Turned out rather a good thing out on the back sun deck as the normal ‘smokers side’ was smoke free and pleasanter to walk through to get to the loo!

Geoff Peters is talking about Maiden Voyages that didn’t get completed. There was of course The Titanic, but also a Victorian era Titanic, and then there was the Vasa, the Bismarck and the aircraft carrier torpedoed on her maiden voyage.

Roger is also keen to go and listen to Amanda McLaren of the Racing car family (who just happens to be a passenger) talk about her father and the company. This was a Q & A session with Bruce McLaren’s daughter by her husband, who is the Brand Ambassador for McLaren about how the dream of a young boy in Auckland, New Zealand lead to the pioneering phenomenon that is McLaren today.

There is a film, The Lighthouse which appeals to Roger too, so he will be well occupied today.

Tonight’s show is the Ship’s Theatre Company with Blame It On The Boogie.

I ended up spending most of the day on the back deck on the phone as I had ‘Roaming’ so could talk to UK at no cost so I caught up with the news re Corona Virus. I really feel that we have been incredibly lucky with our situation here a board. I sat out on the back deck, where Roger joined me for lunch and afternoon snacks between his activities. The weather became warmer and it turned into a beautiful day. I kept putting sun lotion on and thinking I should go and put on a sun top as I had on a sleeveless T-shirt and light trousers. However I sat it out, but didn’t use enough sun screen. Having avoided strap marks all trip I found after I had caught the sun on my arms! ( Never mind,a few sunny days in my garden should sort that out in the next few weeks!)

Maiden Voyage Mishaps

We all know about the Titanic, which sank on 14th April, 1912. Lessons were learned from this disaster. The ship had 20 lifeboats, which would carry only 38%!o(MISSING)f the passengers! It was thought to be unsinkable, they were really only cosmetic.

After it’s sinking the nations of the seas got together and created SOLAS , an international convention for Safety of Life at Sea. Drills and inspections are now required frequently on ships, there is always 24hr radio watch and it is against maritime law not to respond to a mayday call, there is International ice Patrol, and ships are now designed with improved hill strength and waterproof doors .

The first Titanic was RMS Taylour. This was a clipper ship of the White Star line. She was thought to be unsinkable. She left Liverpool on 19th January 1854 on her maiden voyage, heading for Melbourne, Australia. There were 680 passengers and crew, but only 37 of the 71 seamen were trained, and only 10 were English.

The ship had a iron hull, but as there had been a delay in the production there had been no sea trials. This meant that the ship’s compass had not had time to be calibrated, and therefore was not reading true and was affected by the iron hull. Instead of sailing south into the Irish Sea the ship headed west towards Ireland and ran aground. 380 of the passengers survived, but only 3 of the 100 women on board. It is thought their heavy clothing would have hampered their survival. They had foundered 5 miles from Dublin Bay, and many had managed to make it ashore with the help of the mast which had collapsed, allowing them to clamber along it to the shore.

The Vasa was a Swedish warship built in 1628. It was 1300m long, a beam of 11.7m, height 52.5 m and draft of 4.8 m, with 64 cannon. Between 1611 and 1632 Sweden was a great Power. The king of Sweden was Gustavus Adolphus. He was though to be the greatest military commander of all time, being very innovative in the use of arms. 2 Dutch shipbuilders were employed and approved by the king, Henrik Hybertsson( Master Hendrik) and Arendi de Grote. it was to have a gunnery platform of 2 decks, 150 sailers and 300 soldiers along with the 64 cannons and be the most powerful warship. However Master Hendrik died in 1627

In 1628 it was ready for a stability test. 30 men ran from side to side to check how stable it was. After 3 runs back and forth it was rocking badly. There was a lot of pressure from the king to get it completed and no one really wanted to tell the king about the problem. On 10th August 1628 the ship was ready to sail. The gun ports were open to fire a salute when there was a gust of wind. The ship toppled onto its side and water flooded through the gun ports. They were approximately 1300metres from shore and the ship sank with 30 dead. There were thousands watching and the king was very embarrassed about this. The shipbuilders and crew were made the scapegoats as the king couldn’t be seen to take responsibility.

In 1961, 333 years later, the ship was pulled to the surface of the the harbour. Due to the salinity of the water, the wooden vessel survived infestation and degradation and after the water and the mud were pumped out, and the gun ports sealed the Vasa ship floated. 15 of the 30 lost sailors were also found inside. More than 95%!o(MISSING)f the ship is original. It Is now in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.

CSS Georgiana was a Confederate States Navy steamer in the American Civil War. Reputedly, the brig rigged, iron hulled, propeller steamer was intended to become the most powerful cruiser in the confederate fleet once her guns were mounted.

She was 63m long, beam 7.67m and built at the Lawrie Shipyard in Scotland, begun in 1862 and launched in 1863. She was owned and financed by the banking magnate George Alfred Trenholm, of Charleston who was treasurer of the Confederacy( and the primary historical figure behind the fictional Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind), and an adviser to Jefferson Davis. She sailed from UK with a cargo of munitions, medical equipment and merchandise with a value of over $1 million. The Georgiana was lost on the night of 19th March 1863 while attempting to run the blockade of the Federals, and into Charleston. She had been spotted by the armed US Yacht America( of the famed America’s Cup racing trophy) which alerted the remainder of the blockade fleet by shooting up coloured flares. The Georgiana was sunk after a desperate chase in which she came so close to the big guns aboard the USS Wissahicken that her crew even heard the orders being given on the US vessel. With solid shot passing entirely through her hull, her rudder damaged and with no hope for escape Capt. AB Davidson flashed a white light in token of surrender thus gaining time to beach his ship in 4.3 m of water, three quarters of a mile from shore and, after first scuttling her, escaped to the land side with all hands. This was construed as “the most consummate treachery” by the disappointed blockading crew, who would have shared the proceeds from the prize. Lt. Comdr John L Davis, commanding Wissahickon decided to set the wreck on fire lest guerrilla bands from shore try to salvage her or her cargo: she burned for several days accompanied by large black powder explosions.

The Zeewijk was an 18th century East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company. (VOC). It was built in 1725, 44 m long and 11m beam. It had 36 Iron and Bronze guns, and 6 swivel guns. Her maiden voyage was from Vlissingen to Batavia, departing November 1726, with 208 seamen and soldiers onboard, as well as a cargo of general building supplies and 10 chests full of gold.

Ships of the company were required to sail a long way south after The Cape of Good Hope across the southern ocean to catch the westerlies until turning north . Turning north too late from a miscalculation in the longitude risked being wrecked on the coast or reefs of Australia. The skipper, Jan Steins, ignored company rules and protests from his steersman ad headed northeast. In darkness at 7.30pm on 9th June 1727 the ship crashed heavily into Half Moon Reef on the western edge of the Pelsaert Group of the Houtman Abrolhos island group, 60 km west of the future site of Geraldton. The impact dislodged the rudder and snapped off the mainsail, but the ship did not break up immediately. The lookout spotted breakers half an hour before the impact but wrote them off as moonlight reflecting off the sea. Heavy sea conditions saw at least 10men drown at the first attempt to launch a boat. After one week a long boat was launched. Later most of the remaining crew was ferried on the long boat to what would be later known as Gun Island, a fly rocky 800 by 350m limestones Island locates 4 km off the reef. From Gun and surrounding Islands the critical commodity of fresh water was available, as well as vegetables, sea birds and seals that were combined with the ship’s goods to sustain the survivors.

While the Zeewijk did not break up immediately and goods, including the treasure chests , were transferred to Gun Island it was obvious to the crew that the ship could never be floated from its position on the reef. A rescue group of 11 of the fittest survivors and First Mate set off for Batavia in the longboat on 10th July but were never heard of again.

On 29th October 1727 the ship’s log mentions the intention of the crew to construct a vessel to carry them to Batavia, The Sloepie (Little Sloop). On 7th November the keel was laid down utilising timbers from the wrecked Zeewijk ( including 2 swivel mounted cannon to protect the treasure from pirates) and local mangrove timber and she became a 20 m long by 6m wide sloop, resembling a N Sea fishing vessel. Constructed in 4 months and launched on 28th February 1728 the Sloepie was the first ever European ship built in Australia. On 26th March 88 men set off on the one month journey to Batavia. Six fed on the way leaving 82 of the initial 208 to arrive in Batavia on 30th April 1728.

In 1840 HMS Beagle found relics of the camp site, including a VOC cannon and 2 coins dated 1707 and 1720 which helped to confirm that the site belonged to the Zeewijk. They named the Zeewijk channel after the wreck. In 1880s and 1890s a large mount of material was found during guano mining. Items including bottles, coins, wine glasses, jags, pots, spoons, knives, musket and cannon balls, tobacco and pipes were found. Most of these were donated to the Western Australia museum in Perth, after they were catalogued by the son of the director of the inning company, originally thought to be from the Batavia.( see some weeks ago! )

And then there was the MV Reijn. Length 200m, beam 32m, built in 1987 in Japan, the ship was powered by a single screw propeller. She was launched on 19 December 1987 and registered in Panama City. On 26 April 1988 she ran aground and capsized off Oporto, Portugal. One crew mender was killed. She was carrying a cargo of 5432 new cars on her maiden voyage from Japan to Ireland.

It was decided that two thirds of the cars were to be dumped in water in excess of 2000 m deep, followed by the sinking of the ship in waters of a similar depth. Although the dumping of the cars was started it was not completed as such action was in violation of the London Dumping Convention, due to the plastics contained in the cars, Reijn was sunk in deep water.

The Bismarck. This was the first of a pair of Bismarck class fast battleships built for Nazi Germany shortly before the outbreak of WW2. The other was The Tirpitz. It was 251 m long, beam 36m and could reach a speed of 30knots. It had 103 officers, 1962 enlisted men and civilians and 80 prize crew ( to take any captured ships back to Germany). It’s first and only offensive operation, lasting 8 days in May 1841, codenamed Rheinübung, was with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to break into the Atlantic Ocean and raid Allied shipping from N America to GB. The 2ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. At the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the battle cruiser HMS Hood initially engaged Prince Eugen, probably by mistake, while HMS Prince of Wales engaged Bismarck. In the ensuing battle Hood was destroyed by the combined fire of the 2 German ships, which then damaged Prince of Wales and forced her retreat. Bismarck suffered sufficient damage from 3 hits to force an end to the raiding destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for occupied France to effect repairs Bismarck was attacked by 16 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, one scored a bit that rendered the battleship’s steering gear inoperable. In her first battle the following morning, the already crippled Bismarck was severely damaged during a sustained engagement with 2 British battleships and 2 heavy cruisers, was scuttled by her crew, and sank with heavy loss of life. British warships rescued 111 survivors and the following morning a U-Boat and a German weathership rescued rescued 5 more. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually.

The wreck of Bismarck was discovered on 8th June 1981 by Dr Robert Ballard, the oceanographer responsible for find in RMS Titanic. Bismarck was found to be resting upright at a depth of approximately 4791 m about 400 miles west of Brest.

And finally. The Shinano. This was a Japanese aircraft carrier, built by the Japanese Navy during WW2, the largest such built at that time. Laid down in May 1940 Shinano’s partially completed hull was ordered to be converted to a carrier following Japan’s disastrous loss of 4fleet carriers at the battle of Midway in mid 1942. The advanced state of her construction prevented her conversion into a fleet carrier so the IJN decided to convert her into a carrier that supported other carriers. She had 2175 officers and men and 340 civilians who were still finishing her.

She still wasn’t finished in November 1944 when she was ordered to sail to another base for completion with a load of rocket propelled kamikaze flying bombs.

She needed 16 hours to cover the 300 miles. On the journey the American submarine Archerfish, commanded by Commander Joseph F Enright picked up Shinano and her escorts on her radar and pursued than on a parallel course. Over an hour and a half earlier Shinano has detected the submarine’s radar. Normally Shinano would have been able to outrun the Archerfish, but the zig-zagging movement of the carrier and her escorts-intended to evade any American subs in the area- inadvertently turned the task group back on the subs path on several occasions. The carrier’s lookouts spotted Archerfish on the surface and Isokaze broke formation, against orders, to investigate. The captain ordered the destroyer to return to the formation without attacking because he believed that the submarine was part of N American wolf pack. He assumed Archerfish was being used as a decoy to lure away one of the escorts to allow the rest of the pack a clear shot at the Shinano. He ordered his ships to turn away from the submarine with the expectation of outrunning it, counting on his 2 knot margin of speed over the submarine.

At around 23.22 the carrier was forced to reduce speed to 18 knots, the same speed as Archerfish, to prevent damage to a propeller shaft when a bearing over heated. At 2.56 on 29th November, Shinano turned to the SW and headed straight for Archerfish. Eight minutes later Archerfish turned east and submerged in preparation to attack. Enright ordered his torpedoes set for a depth of 10 feet in case they ran deeper than set. He also intended to increase the chances of capsizing the ship by punching holes higher up the hull. A few minutes later Shinano turned south, exposing her entire side to Archerfish - a nearly ideal firing situation for the submarine. The escorting destroyer that side passed right over Archerfish without detecting her. At 03.15 Archerfish fires 6 torpedoes before diving to 400 feet to escape a depth charge from the escorts.

Four torpedoes struck Shinanoat an average depth of 14 feet. Though severe, the damage to Shinano was T first judged to be manageable. The crew were confident in the ship’s armour and and strength, which translated into lax initial efforts to save the ship. The captain ordered the carrier to maintain its max speed, even after the last torpedo had hit. This pushed more water through the holes in the hull resulting in extensive flooding. Within a few minutes she was listing 10 degrees to starboard. She continued to take on water, despite the pumping. By 09.00 she was listing over 20 degrees. At 10.18 the captain gave the order to abandon ship. At 10.57 Shinano finally capsized and sank, 65 miles from the nearest land in 4000m, taking 1435 officers, men and civilians to their deaths.

After their rescue the survivors were isolated on an island until January 1945 to suppress the news of the carriers loss. US Naval intelligence did not initially believe Enright’s claim to have sunk a carrier. Shinano’s construction had not been detected through decoded radio messages or any other means and the American analysts believed they had located all of japan’s surviving carriers. The Americans only learned of the existence of Shinano after the war, and following this discovery Enright was credited with her sinking and awarded the Navy Cross.

Day 58 - Thursday 9th April 2020

Last Black Tie evening tonight. Although it’s been nice to dress up it was getting a bit tedious for it to be twice a week. Roger was getting years of wear out of his dinner suit on the plus side! Today’s daytime entertainment was An audience with the Captain this morning. He proved to be an entertaining speaker, and as we already realised, had a dry sense of humour. The weather was not particularly warm but still pleasant to sit on the sun deck with the roof closed. We booked the cinema for the afternoon, but it turned out to be a rather depressing movie, about a young black teenager who inadvertently killed another boy accidentally and ended up in prison for 30 yeas on a murder charge. It has been a complete mystery who could have written the ‘blurb’ for these films, and who could have selected them for the audience of a world cruise where the average age must be about 75years of age!

The evening performance was called the Liar’s Club, where the comedian and the entertainer, (the 2 refugees from the 70s!)told a story and the audience to guess who was telling the truth. Not very entertaining I’m afraid.

The ship had passed the island of Madeira early this morning and was soon travelling parallel to the coast of Portugal.

Roger’s tooth started playing him up again and he started taking the painkillers he had left in an effort to quell the pain. His jaw began swelling too, obviously infected somewhere again.

A calm day and some rather good pictures of the practically full moon and reflection across the sea.

Day 59 - Friday 10th April 2020

Poor Roger had a very bad night, his tooth incredibly painful and his face now swollen. First thing he headed off to the sick bay to see the Medic again. He returned with some different antibiotics, more painkillers and strict instructions not to drink alcohol as he would be sick as a dog! He spent most off the day trying to sleep as he was so tired after the sleepless night. There was not much going on today, so he wasn’t missing anything. We did go to see the film this afternoon, Jackie, about Jackie Kennedy and the week following JFKs assassination up to his funeral. Historically interesting but a bit depressing too!

In a token gesture to arriving back I packed one suitcase this afternoon. Well it was a start.

Roger assessed his pain as only a step away from his kidney stones agony but he was able to sleep more today and felt a bit better by the evening. I felt even more sorry for him as every cabin had been given a bottle of Prosecco in lieu of the special celebratory functions for the end of the cruise we had been promised and I’d have to drink it all myself! We took it down to supper with us, where I managed half of it, saving the rest for tomorrow. Yes, i know that once upon a time it wouldn’t have been a problem , but seems to be very soporific these days!

I think the Round The World 99 days passengers had been having special lunches during the last few days from what we could ascertain from conversations with dinner partners, but obviously the half way rounders didn’t get that.

The evening show was Blame it on The Boogie, the ships Theatre Company with lots of 70s disco classics. Another excellent show.

Early this evening the ship rounded, Finisterre on the NW corner of Spain and headed parallel to the Bay of Biscay towards the NWesterly corner of France. Our ships log very precisely says that we did not go across the Bay of Biscay, but parallel to it! The weather was very calm and it was practically a full moon. It had been rather misty during the day, with the ships foghorn sounding regularly.

Day 60 - Saturday 11th April 2020

Last day! It really can’t be over! We have had the most amazing time, loved every minute. So lucky in the present world situation with the Corona virus pandemic having taken hold of the world. We have felt very privileged with the excellent crew, waiters, cabin stewards, etc, with such enthusiastic and friendly service. They can’t have any idea when they will get back to their homes or see their families again in the Philippines, or India, or other home towns around the world. Many of them will be staying on board for the time being cleaning etc until their time came to leave in probably a month from now.

The weather was foggy and the ship’s horn sounded at regular intervals. The sea was calm and ship continued its smooth journey towards the Lizard Point and English Channel.

Roger was feeling a little better today as the antibiotics were beginning to work and his face was slightly les swollen. More importantly he had been able to sleep better.

Today was Geoff’s last talk, The Lost Franklin Expedition, about the search for the North West Passage. This took place in 1845 under the command of Captain Sir John Franklin who set out with 2 ships on the best resource and most scientifically advanced mission ever undertaken. But Franklin and his 128 men were never seen again. This is the story of what happened to them and what went wrong. Another gripping piece of maritime history which I will write up eventually.

In the afternoon Jeff Stevenson and David Copperfield appeared in the theatre with a double act. Roger went to see them and said how entertaining they were, making me wish I’d gone too, but I really found it hard to take David Copperfield.

The major job was to pack the rest of the cases. It just had to go in! There were no decisions to make. We had taken an extra bag that had been folded up in the wheelchair bag for anything awkward shaped so that certainly helped. Bags needed to be outside the cabin by the end of the evening for removal to store and then off the ship in the morning. We hadn’t actually acquired much after all as we had only visited Australia, as the temptations of Asia and the Gulf didn’t happen. Everything went in without a drama thank goodness and we were soon ready to go for supper for the last time.

It was sad to say goodbye to our charming and amenable waiter Sadiq whose table we had managed to be placed at for the last 4 weeks and the others who also served us. We could have quite happily carried on cruising another month to avoid what lay in store for us.

The evening show was a variety show with several of the entertainers doing a slot, including Nick the Entertainment Manager singing a song from Phantom of the Opera. He had a very good voice, was probably better at singing than his entertainment job!

Day 61 - Sunday 12th April 2020

I have no idea what time we actually arrives in Southampton but we were docked when we opened the curtains soon after 7am.

As Christopher was closed now on Sundays he was coming to collect us. We had sent him the departure arrangements and been able to select our own departure time, giving him the opportunity not to have to leave too early.

We were to be collected from the cabin as I had requested assistance to leave the ship. The departure for all was being staggered and arranged in small groups to help the social distancing. The messages over the speakers indicated that all was going very smoothly and ahead of schedule although we had to call to find out where my transport was. Our cabin steward, Carol, came along too to wish us goodbye. Not sure if they’d forgotten or what but we were soon collected and immediately able to leave the ship. The crew member handed me over to shore assistance and we were soon going through the deserted customs hall. Apparently if we had something to declare we had to phone and request someone to come.....as if!

It took a few minutes with assistance to find our suitcases in the baggage hall, but was very civilised as there were so few people about.

We had heard from Christopher by now and he was waiting for us outside the baggage hall. We deposited our extra baggage with the Baggage Handling Company and found Christopher and soon had the car loaded.

We were much better off than the 150 or so Aussies onboard. The earliest they could get flights was Tuesday and they were to stay onboard until it was time to catch the buses to the airport, although most of the facilities were available to them. Lots of them had booked through travel agents and they had been helped to some extent by P & O to organise their return to Australia. However, once they were back in Australia they would have 2 weeks of quarantine in a hotel before they would be allowed to return to their home towns.

The motorways were empty! It was very eerie, so little traffic. We were able to catch up with Christopher’s news on the swift journey home, two and three quarter hours for a journey that usually takes nearly 4 hours, and he didn’t break a speed limit!

We briefly stopped at Tarn Hows to collect our keys and spoke to Nicole and Dom from a distance, so near and yet so far.

And so back at No 67, with a wonderful welcome home poster in the lounge. Nicole had done some shopping for us and the garden was looking terrific too as Sam continued to come whist we were away.

What a wonderful time we had had. So lucky to have been able to complete our journey without any problems, despite the fact that it wasn’t the journey we had planned and set out to do two and a half months ago!

A few facts.

- The ship had sailed a total of 6777 nautical miles on this leg from Durban.
Total cumulative distance travelled since Southampton - 33,638NM.There was a capacity for 2094 passengers and there was a crew of 866.( On the last leg from Freemantle there were only about 1200 passengers as we had the option to disembark instead of continuing the cruise).

Many thanks to all of you who left me messages in response to my blogs, I did get them all and read them. I just wasn’t sure how to acknowledge them and reply!

Watch this space for updates of my talks......if the lockdown goes on I have the perfect opportunity to write them up.


Tot: 2.864s; Tpl: 0.022s; cc: 12; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0237s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb