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5th July, 2012



We approached our berth, stern first and at a snail’s pace, the pilot appearing very cautious, and then he mentioned a local word that I didn’t understand. I was led to believe it meant something similar to ‘drekly’ from my part of the world, but whether it was meant to suggest something to do with the attending tugs I never found out. It was good to see that the Harland and Wolff shipyard had been busy, as a very large floating petroleum storage vessel was about to be floated out of the dry dock prior to its long journey back to the eastern waters off the Newfoundland coast.

The mayor and a couple of port officials came down to carry out the now vey familiar plaque exchange. He is a very tall man, making me feel rather small, and still in his late twenties. In his four weeks of office he has already met the Queen and dealt with a few floods, so we must have been relatively small fry, however you wouldn’t have thought it as the photographer was buzzing around, snapping away and obviously looking for that special PR moment. And it came when a passenger came along and said he had been an ex-mayor of a small town in the Ridings. More photographs.

I did have a little go when I mentioned that the coal dock was perhaps not quite the appropriate berth for a large passenger vessel, even though they had obviously had a good sweep up before we arrived. A tall grey wall separated us, but it is rather difficult to hide 200,000 tons of newly imported coal, particularly if you happen to be looking down from sixty feet up.


Despite the still not so great weather the passengers seemed to enjoy all their tours; up to the Antrim Coast and Giant’s Causeway, the Ards Peninsula, Mount Stewart House and of course the Titanic Experience. The newly opened ‘Titanic Belfast’ is an ultra-modern looking six story building already being referred to as ‘iconic’ and from the outside having a vague resemblance to the bows of the three great sister ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. By all accounts it is a remarkable exhibition and is the showpiece of what is now referred to as the ‘Titanic Quarter’ of Belfast.

We left in the late evening, and within a few hours, passed the storage vessel with its two tugs attending. Five knots and many days of North Atlantic in front before reaching her chilly destination.

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