Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Peel St, Kirribilli

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Peel St, Kirribilli
Tuesday 20 February, 2007

Tonight was an historic occasion and Sydney Harbour came alive. From our vantage point in Kirribilli we watched in awe as the ships met, then enjoyed a beautiful meal before seeing the QM2 depart Sydney around 11pm. As the SMH reported earlier,

Tens of thousands of people tonight packed Sydney Harbour's foreshore to witness a historic reunion of two queens of the sea. The Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary 2 greeted each other with the sound of their whistles as the QE2 sailed past her sister ship docked at the Garden Island navy base around 7pm (AEDT).

Later, passengers and onlookers were treated to a fireworks display celebrating the pair's visit to the harbour city. The Queen Mary 2, the world's largest passenger cruise liner, majestically sailed through the harbour shortly before dawn today, followed by a flotilla of boats and watched by thousands onshore.

Too tall, at 23 storeys high, to sail under the Harbour Bridge and too long to berth at the International Terminal at Circular Quay, the $1 billion grand lady of the sea, on her maiden visit to Sydney, docked at the naval base.

This evening, her sister ship, the QE2, was also welcomed by large crowds as she sailed through the harbour to dock at Circular Quay. As she passed near Garden Island, the QE2 sounded its whistles, prompting a similar response from her big sister and rapturous applause and cheers from those watching on the foreshore.

It was a sight not seen in Sydney since the two ships' predecessors - the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth - greeted each other in the harbour as troop carriers in 1941. The two liners' arrival has caused traffic chaos on Sydney roads and on the harbour as people jostled for the best vantage points.

QM2 Captain Christopher Rynd said the daybreak welcome to Sydney rivalled that of any port it had visited. "We were way out there at sea in the dark and looking in towards the heads, you could see the profile of the headlands, and between, the hundreds of small lights of boats waiting to escort us in,'' the New Zealand-born Captain Rynd told reporters.

"And once we got into the harbour you could see it was just like a magic carpet spread out before you.'' The Sydney Chamber of Commerce and the NSW government expected the two ships' passengers to spend up to $1000 each while in Sydney, injecting more than $3 million into the local economy.

The 345-metre-long QM2 weighs in at 151,400 tonnes and caters for up to 3090 passengers with the help of 1253 crew.

With the tens of thousands of people that lined the Harbour - I'm sure many of them were in Kirribilli as it was packed - we took in the view and enjoyed every moment. After the initial passing we moved inside the Squardron for dinner. On the menu tonight,

- Tasmanian smoked salmon with avocado salsa and coriander salsa
- Shiraz braised duck with red cabbage and sour cherry sauce
- Dark chocolate and honey almond nougat ice cream pyramid with fruit coulis and berries

The food was very good. The entree serve was enormous - a large plate lined with salmon with a mound of avocado & salsa on top - it was light and fresh. The shiraz duck was probably the best duck I have ever eaten outside of Chinatown - tender meat fell off the two large pieces and the skin was crisp - the cherry sauce was perfect. I shared a dessert and in hindsight could have easily polished off one ice cream pyramids myself - it was sooooo good.

What a night! As we toasted the QM2 leaving Sydney Harbour just after 11pm it was quite overwhelming - from Kirribilli the QM2 wiped out the Eastern suburbs - the sheer size of the ship was extraordinary.

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron - 33 Peel Street, Kirribilli - (02) 99557171


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