Thursday, 14 January 2010
Mona Lisa Part 4
Saturday 29th August 2009
Being in Le Havre overnight meant we could leave the ship as soon as we liked in the morning and wait for the free shuttle bus into the town, and despite being in France we had to endure a typical British Bank Holiday weekend rain shower. In town we met a friend with a small house in Honfleur, over the other side of the River Seine, who invited us to visit for lunch, so that was the next excitement.
A big taxi took us all over the wonderful river bridge into that picturesque little seaside town for a French lunch in a French house, before exploring the town amongst the tourist crowds. A favourite shop had closed since my last visit, I noticed. A local bus took us back to Le Havre town, and we decided to do the long walk back to the ship in the sunshine.
Most of the other passengers seem to have gone on excursions to Paris (with the inevitable lunch boxes) so the deserted Caribe Bar was a welcome sight for afternoon tea, followed by a rest on a steamer chair on the aft deck. Ah, this is the life.
A tasty gin and tonic in the Riviera Bar prepared us for dinner, having had another fascinating day’s port of call on board MONA LISA. The ship sailed at 8 p.m. ready to sail the 275 nautical miles to our next port of Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.
Ships seen: Norman Spirit, MSC Rebecca (container ship)
Sunday 30th August 2009
How lovely, a morning at sea in sunny weather, before arrival at 2 p.m. at Ijmuiden. I haven’t been here before so it will be interesting to see this port. Meanwhile we had time to enjoy a leisurely deck breakfast and watch BLACK WATCH sailing fairly near us heading north. Another friend was sailing on BALMORAL in the Channel at the time so it was fun to exchange text messages with him. By a great coincidence we knew that BRAEMAR was also to be in Ijmuiden, so it’s a bit of a Fred. Olsen day today.
The Pilot guided us into the port and there indeed was BRAEMAR further along the water. On the other side of our berth was a fantastically long and sandy beach, stretching along the curve of the coast as far as the eye could see. People were flying high on sand kites, and a few were racing along on sand buggies, so there was colour and activity everywhere, and we were also part of it.
I wanted to be out to enjoy it but first we had a Bridge visit, thanks to an invitation by Captain Daoutis. His Greek flag flew from the Bridge in the high wind, and we could look round and take photos to our hearts’ content – more nostalgia coming up for me.
We saw the modern equipment designed to keep the ship safe in all the waters of the world, plus all the original woodwork of the flag storage, the chart drawers and tables under the front windows, the ship’s wheel, the speaking tube from the Bridge down to the Captain’s cabin (Captain Christopher Sample in 1999/2000),
the view up the white-painted mast against the cloudless blue sky, the views aft, the sliding door each side from the Bridge onto the Bridge wings with their scrubbed teak deck and varnished rails,
so there I was back on the VICTORIA’s Bridge again wearing my Centenary Voyage sweatshirt all these years later. What a weird sensation, remembering all the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ of that time
The only thing missing from the Bridge original equipment was the Beaufort Scale. I won’t ever forget that showing Force 12 against the backdrop of mountainous seas, but that’s a tale for another time. I had been on that Bridge so many times and this was probably my last visit ever, so I had a final moment of nostalgia at being on this lovely ship again, and left to collect my going ashore bits.
A brisk walk took me to the stern of the MONA LISA for an unusual view of her,
then up and over the sea wall towards the beach and the sight of her funnel appearing over the top of a row of beach huts.
Crushed shells crunched under my feet as I walked over the sandy beach towards the sea, where silvery waves were curling in gently towards me. People were in the air on sand kites, on land in sand cars, walking around the beach and admiring the endless curve of this North Sea coastline,
making sand castles and sand animals, having bare legs sand-blasted by the force of the wind, and enjoying the sunshine. I wrote in the sand, and then met up with a chum for mint tea in a beach side café.
Next though was to be the 5 p.m. departure of BRAEMAR and I saw this from the beach, with the ship appearing to glide along the sea wall as she left. Soon the next departure at 5.30 p.m. was of KING OF SCANDINAVIA and she too appeared to glide along the sea wall until clear water could be seen under her hull.
Walking back I came across a small bust of Cornelis Vreeswijk, Troubadour (what a lovely job description) which gave his name and Ijmuiden 1937 – Stockholm 1987.
Eventually home again on the ship it was the usual evening of a social gathering and dinner, bearing in mind that we were to depart at 9 p.m. and sail overnight the 177 nautical miles back to Bremerhaven.
Ships seen: Black Watch, Braemar, King of Scandinavia, Sea Worker (off-shore platform, local vessel), Bar Protector (1981-built dive vessel), Johannan Louisa, tug Amsterdam, Boatman 5, Dumlupinar, Lamlash, Seebad Zingst of Stralsund (built 1963), F.D. Incredible
To be concluded...