06 July 2010

Fleet Review

Sorry it’s taken so long to get this up. Deb especially has been asking for it. My pictures are pretty crappy, I admit. I’ve pilfered one from someone at work, I hope they don’t mind…

The weather the morning of the Fleet Review was typical Halimouth: gray and rainy, foggy and cool. A few ships started to anchor in the basin the day before, and it was fun watching them come in.

That morning when I got to work, I couldn’t see any of them for the fog. My first thought was, how is the Queen supposed to review the fleet if she can’t see it? This turned out not to be an issue since the fog lifted, although it was still a bit misty and overcast. It was one of those days where you can’t see the sun, but there’s still a glare that kills your eyes.

The atmosphere at work was pretty laid back that day. I heard many people comment on how little they were getting done. Me, I had a hard time focusing. Every time I glanced up and out my window I would be distracted by the ships. The ship that carried the review party, the HMCS St. John’s, was at the jetty all morning and offered a lot of stuff to watch: sailors pulling ropes, podiums being carried, cameras being set up. There was a little area cordoned off for staff and family here, and by 10am there was already people sitting out there, waiting for the Queen. Or, maybe they were here to protest Harper?

It’s an odd sight, all those war ships in the Basin. It must have looked something like that in war time, right before the Mont Blanc blew up although that was in the Narrows, not the Basin (Harbour geography) Still, I suspect war-time Hali had lots of ships in the Basin.

I found it a curious juxtaposition, the warships with their deadly guns and jaunty pennants. It was an interesting visual. Earlier in the day, there was this little fishing boat in the basin, all done up in her flags and pennants. In my head, she was the little kid trying to be like her older siblings. She didn’t want to be left out. Then one of the police boats pulled up alongside her and I didn’t see her again.

The Queen was scheduled to arrive around 2. She was late. I decided to watch from my office, since I didn’t want to stand with the crowd. I could sit on my desk and get a panoramic view of the event. It was quite a scene, all the ship’s crew standing at attention, a Navy band, and a couple of Mounties for good measure. In all, three separate caravans arrived. The Queen was in the last one. But we didn’t know that, and I had forgotten to bring binoculars. Those of us watching from the 5th floor spent a lot of the time going:

“Is that her?”
“In the purple?”
“I think she’s the one in purple. Walking up the stairs.”
“Can she move that fast? What about the one in red?”
“On the boat”
“She’s on the boat already!”
“Isn’t that a Mountie?”
“On the boat?”
“There’s a Mountie on the boat?!”

You get the idea. We had finally decided that the one in purple was the Queen, when another caravan arrived, this one with a police escort and more flashing lights than the others. We knew this was The One. It turned out she was the one in white. So, she was greeted and then walked up the stairs. She's so little! There was lots of saluting on board, and then she was lead into the ship and thus ended my seeing of the Queen. It was pretty anticlimactic, actually. The Mountie on the ship, by the way, turned out to be Mrs. Harper, in a red jacket.

The review ship went to the far side of the basin to start the review, and once all the vehicles had left we were allowed back down on the jetty. I walked along the water for awhile, watching the ships. You could see the crews standing in formation on the decks. There were lots of pleasure craft in the water too, coming out to see the Queen and the review. They started sailing in formation. It was kind of cool, and I wish I knew if it was planned, or if it just kind of happened, but they were sailing in a long train in an oblong loop along the side of the basin.


Blue Heron Moon said...

How exciting to have been there! Thank you for the interesting, informative post.

Deb said...

Finally! No, just kidding. It sounds like it was cool, even if it was a little anticlimactic for you.

I got to see ships in the harbour this weekend too...except it was the tall ships, not warships, but they were pretty cool. Unfortunately, I went down to see them in the evening (when it had dropped from 40C to, oh, maybe 35C) not knowing that the tours of the ships all ended at 6, so I didn't actually get to go on any. Although, you can book trips on some of them to be part of the crew for a week or something like that - maybe I'll have to check it out. I don't think I'd likely see the Queen, though. :-)

Ellie Fish said...

I love tall ships!!
The first time I saw the tall ships in Hali, I really wanted to sail on them. I couldn't think of anything better than finishing my degree and doing 6 months on board a tall ship. But it's so expensive! And then that poor girl died on the Picton Castle and I'm a little glad I decided on more schooling.