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On Watching The QM2 Slip Out Of San Francisco Bay

February 6, 2007

The Cunard liner, Queen Mary II, is the largest luxury cruise ship in the world. At 1,132 feet in length, with a capacity of more than 3000 people, the boat is a giant floating city for rich people (the cheapest berths cost $5000 a head for a 2-week trip).

On Sunday, the QM2 became the largest vessel ever to sail into and out of San Francisco Bay. I haven't read the Chronicle lately, so I didn't even know about the boat's arrival in San Francisco, but last night, a friend, who happens to be a fan of all things nautical, suggested driving to a harbor near Sausalito to watch the QM2 slip under Golden Gate Bridge and continue its journey westwards to Hawaii.

The experience of driving to the small harbor right under the bridge was an interesting one. It was dark and streams of cars were heading down there. We could barely find a place to park.

It seemed amazing to me that so many people would gather in the dark to watch this lazy mass of lights, this grand polluter of the world's oceans, waltz out of the harbor. But there were hundreds of people out. Many had cameras. Judging by the picnics and blankets and deck-chairs, some had been waiting for ages. The atmosphere was not unlike the one that accompanies the expectation of fireworks on Independence Day or Guy Fawkes Night.

At first, I really couldn't see what all the excitement was about. As we trudged over potholes to find a suitable vantage point, I heard someone behind me complain: "All I want is a picture of the fucking boat."

It was only when I was standing there hypnotized by the sight of this monarch, processing towards me with her crown ablaze, that I understood why people flocked to bid her bon voyage. The ship looked like a massive, fallen building. The contrast between its beauty in the stillness of the night and the frenetic blue lights of the battalion of police escort tugs was what impressed me most.

I felt like I was observing the ultimate in human achievement and disaster at the same time.

Perhaps that's why The Titanic's sinking has continued to leave such a huge impression on the popular imagination over the decades. How can something so massive even float? Watching the QM2 sail out of San Francisco Bay is thrilling because it speaks of the impossible.

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2 Comments:

  • Could not have said it any better myself

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 13, 2007 at 2:25 AM  

  • I covered the arrival of the QM2 for NBC, and was one of the reporters allowed to go on board while the ship was docked at Pier 27. While impressive, (did I mention it has two theaters, one with a retractable planetarium?) I was amazed at the public response to the vessel. I interviewed a group of people at Crissy Field who had a Queen Mary 2 party; they were dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns, sipped champagne and even sang "Hail the Queen" as the ship passed by. On another note... Chloe, I love the website and the blog! Keep up the great work!

    By Anonymous Monte, At February 13, 2007 at 1:20 PM  

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