Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Queen Mary's Main Hall

"The Shopping Center of the Queen Mary; here one may buy most everything that would be sold by the exclusive shops on Bond Street, London or Fifth Avenue, New York."

The Queen Mary's Main Hall has changed a little bit over the years, but not a terrible lot. It's still being used for its intended purpose as a shopping center - even 75 years after the maiden voyage.

The arcade contained a "smart haberdashery and clothing shop, a cigar store, a book shop and ship-to-shore telephone booths" for passenger use. In addition, Main Hall also provided access to the library, drawing room, lounge and bar. It had to have been a rather lively area when the ship sailed.

References: The "Queen Mary": A Pictorial Souvenir Of the "World's Largest Floating Palace" - QUEEN MARY (New York: Pier & Ocean Liner News Co., Inc., 1936).

Snapshot: Captain Smith on the Olympic

Here's an interesting shot of Captain E.J. Smith looking out of Olympic's starboard docking wing. He would of course go on to command the ship's younger - and more infamous - sister Titanic.

E.J. Smith was regarded as one of the world's most experienced and confident seafarers, so it seemed a natural choice to place him in command of the new Olympic-class liners.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"If only some such friendly star had glistened into the eyes of the lookout on the Titanic..."

When Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, the Carpathia - under the command of Captain Arthur Henry Rostron - famously came to the rescue of her 706 survivors.

It took a great feat of seamanship to arrive at Titanic's position. Firstly, Carpathia was three and a half hours away. Chief Engineer Johnston diverted all steam to the engines and squeezed every ounce of power from the boilers. The ship was rated at 14 knots, but according to Rostron she made 17 that night.

Secondly, Carpathia had to sail through the same ice-infested waters that claimed Titanic. As Captain Rostron raced his ship to the stricken liner, "every nerve strained watching for the ice." Everyone kept a sharp eye. The first iceberg was spotted at around 2:35 am by Second Officer James Bisset (who - like Captain Rostron - was a future Commodore of the Cunard Line). Rostron recounts that it "lay two points on the port bow and...was betrayed by [a] star beam." This star, fortunately, reflected off the berg's surface and guided Carpathia safely past.

"If only some such friendly star had glistened into the eyes of the lookout on the Titanic," writes Rostron. "Ah, well, it was not to be."

References: Arthur Rostron, Titanic Hero: The Autobiography of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia (Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2011), 36-40.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Hope you all have a happy and safe holiday with friends and loved ones. I'd like to wish you everything you wish yourselves this season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The "tunnels were rather lonely places" to work.

Ron Winter served as one of the Queen Mary's junior engineering officers when she set sail in May 1936. His memoirs are fascinating, and he chronicles ship life in a masterful way. Winter describes what it was like to work in the Queen Mary's various machine and engine spaces (the subject for future posts).

In this particular passage he describes the ship's long tunnels:

From the After Engine Room ran the tunnels which carried the [propeller] shafts from the engines, way under the stern of the ship. These shafts were supported every few feet in bearings, and a gangway ran down through the tunnels so that these bearings could be inspected, and also the stern glands where the shafts passed out through the ship's bottom into the sea. The tunnels were well lit and very much cooler than the engine rooms, and in very hot weather it was a pleasant change to work down there. The sight of these very long and enormous shafts - 2 ft 6 in in diameter - turning away was very impressive, though the tunnels were rather lonely places and you were conscious of being hundreds of feet away from human company.

These spaces still exist on the Queen Mary walking tour today and - although the propeller shafts have been stopped for 44 years - are still rather impressive. They are pleasantly cool too, just as Winter describes, as well as lonely.

References: C.W.R. Winter, Queen Mary: Her early years recalled (Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens, 1986), 97-99.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Foggy Evening on the Mary

The evening of October 15, 2011 was a foggy one in Long Beach. I was walking back to my car when I happened to turn around and notice just how thick it was. You couldn't even see the downtown area across the bay!

I quickly grabbed my camera and went back aboard to take the following shots:

It felt as if the Queen was on the old North Atlantic run again. The fog seemed to have magically transported her from Long Beach to her natural element (at least when looking off to starboard). I could just stand there and imagine what it must have been like back she was sailing; all it lacked was the rolling.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December Update

I just wanted to let everyone know that there likely won't be any updates until probably the middle part of the month. I'm just two weeks away from finishing my B.A. in History, which means that I have a ton of work to do between now and then.

This means that the Captain's Table has to be neglected for the time being, but alas, duty calls.

Thanks for understanding! See you all in a couple of weeks.