Ocean Viking’s owner, Andre De Barr meets Queen Mary 2 at dawn as she sails into Gibraltar for the first time.
It was the thrill of a lifetime, writes Reg Reynolds, there we were twenty metres off the bow of the largest cruise ship ever built and the captain saluted us with a blast of her whistle.
The Queen Mary 2’s whistle (more of a cannon blast really) can be heard for ten miles so you can imagine what it sounded like to the ten of us aboard the schooner Ocean Viking. We were all very pleased that the captain of this mighty ocean liner had honoured us this way. Our skipper Ginge Sargent sent a modest reply via the hand-held foghorn.
The Queen Mary 2 visited Gibraltar for the first time in September and Rock businesses benefited mightily from the more than 2,000 passengers taken ashore by the dozen tenders pressed into service. We were able to get a close-up look at Cunard’s newest liner thanks to Andre De Barr of the Tunnel Bar, owner of the charter yacht Ocean Viking. When he heard that the Queen Mary 2 was about to pay her first visit to Gibraltar he decided that it would be a good idea to sail out and welcome her as she arrived.
Ocean Viking is the ideal corporate hospitality venue. Invitations were made, the only drawback being that if you wanted to go you had to be at Shepherd’s Marina by 6:30 in the morning.
With the kettle on the boil we motored out into the still darkness and watched as the brightly lit Queen slowly entered the harbour. Ginge steered us around the Queen for two hours as we snapped photos and waved to the early risers emerging from their cabins.
Security was tight and police and port authority boats stayed between us and the Queen at all times.
Surprisingly the Ocean Viking and a few small fishing boats were the only private vessels on hand to greet the grand liner. Not like the old days when liners arriving in harbour for the first time would be greeted by hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes, waving flags and tooting whistles.
Of course that made it all the more special for us.
We were able to see the Queen from every angle and appreciate that photos don’t do her justice.
Unfortunately these days all cruise liners have a boxy look in order to accommodate the infrastructure required to entertain, amuse and feed the modern sea-going traveller. But the designers of the Queen Mary 2 have been able to retain the feel of the great ocean liners of yore by giving her the same sleek tapered bow of the original Queen Mary and by adding a false rounded stern and a traditional funnel. The Queen Mary 2 has the same black hull as the original and when you see her bow-on from a few metres away she looks just like one of those fantastic posters from the 1930s.
It had been nearly nine months since Queen Mary 2 made her maiden voyage
from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She sailed under a black cloud.Tragically, when the French workers who built her and their families were invited to a celebration of her completion at St. Nazaire a gangway collapsed, 15 people were killed and 32 injured. There were also a few hiccups on the maiden voyage, as there are on most maiden voyages, but all seems to have been put right and the passengers that disembarked at Gibraltar seemed to be in very good spirits.
The Queen Mary 2 will be a regular visitor to the Mediterranean and also makes cruises around the
Caribbean, Mexico and the United States as well as to Norway, Germany, Denmark, France and Scotland.
She embarks on a 121-day world cruise in mid-December. A luxury that few of us could afford but at least ten of us have had the satisfaction of seeing her magnificent silhouette against the sunrise with the great Rock of Gibraltar in the background. And I think some of those wealthy passengers might even have envied us as they watched us sail back to port, the smell of our delicious bacon sandwiches wafting in the breeze.
If you’d like to come sailing with Ginge and be the envy of the cruise ship passengers, contact us now to make your booking. Ocean Viking is the ideal corporate hospitality, wedding or birthday venue. We can take 12 guests for a day out, and can organise special decorations if required.
When popular actors Prunella Scales and her husband Timothy West came out to Gibraltar at the invitation of Ginge Sargent, the Skipper of Ocean Viking, they were on a tight schedule. There was so much to see around the Rock as well as fitting in the rehearsals for the Year of the Sea Show. A top priority for the couple was a sail round the Bay of Gibraltar, the very same Bay that has witnessed so many of the historic events featured in the show. Ginge pointed out many of the landmarks, including Nelson’s Anchorage and Rosia Bay, where the Victory was brought after the Battle of Trafalgar.
In spite of the chilly November breeze the couple enjoyed their envigorating sail. They then returned to The Rock Hotel for a rest prior to the evening’s performance before Gibraltar’s Governor and Chief Mininster. There were many invited VIP’s as well as those who had travelled from the Costa to see what was described by the former Director of Culture as “The jewel in the crown of Gibraltar’s Year of the Sea”.
If you’d like to come sailing with Ginge, contact us now to make your booking.
by Elena Scialtiel
It was a wave of applauses for British stars Prunella Scales, Timothy West, Stephen Roberts and Terence Allbright and the Gibraltar National Choir when the notes of Rule Britannia’s last chorus faded away in the John Mackintosh Hall auditorium at the end of their Year of the Sea Concert held on 16th November.
The nautical programme included many popular solo songs that baritone Stephen Roberts lyrically interpreted, accompanied on piano by Terence Allbright and by the melodious ensemble of local voices, harmonised by Lili Olivero’s indefatigable baton. There were ample intermezzos of dramatic readings, intensely delivered by renowned theatre, big and small screen actors Prunella Scales and Timothy West.
From Shakespeare to Haydn, from Stevenson to Hardy, from Liszt to Churchill, a variety of touching tales of sailors, ships, sea battles and sunken gold were told and sung, with special regard to Nelson’s bicentennial, whose solemn commem-oration’s echoes still resounded at the neighbouring Trafalgar cemetery.
The illuminated graphics complimenting each piece and enhancing the production were the product of months of research and were controlled from a computer at the back of the theatre by Angela Sargent.
The concert involved extensive commitment for The Gibraltar National Choir, nevertheless not unfamiliar with apparently insurmountable challenges: challenge actually seems to tickle its founder, president and musical director Lili Olivero’s ambitions to ‘think big’ and ‘out of the box’ and make it the soundtrack of happy events earning Gibraltar a name and fame on the musical map.
The idea for presenting the production here was first suggested by Stephen about a year ago when he met local co-organisers Ginge and Angela Sargent. They were out for a sail aboard their friend John Tanzer’s yacht ‘Aquila’. Back in UK, he reported their conversation to his actor and pianist friends, who enthused at the prospect of paying their first visit to the Rock. The proposal gathered momentum when Lili Olivero and the The National Choir’s participation was negotiated, providing a star-quality accompaniment worthy of their celebrity guests.
Husband-and-wife team Timothy and Prunella also took the opportunity of their Gibraltar gig to locally launch their literary work “So You Want To Be An Actor?”, a practical hand-book for aspiring thespians, whose signed copies are now enriching the libraries of the many Gibraltarian amateur dramatic groups.
2006 50th Anniversary Race. Sail with Ginge Sargent winner of a 1987 Tall Ships Race.
Ocean Viking will join in with The 2006 Anniversary Tall Ships Fleet. This will be a two week passage setting out on 17th July 2006 from Gibraltar, sailing North to join the fleet at Lisbon and sailing with the fleet to Cadiz arriving back at Gibraltar on the 29th July. It is expected there will be up to a hundred vessels, from as many as 20 countries, and with the young trainees on board from closer to 30 different countries and numbering in the thousands.
Many veteran trainees from 1956 have indicated their interest in coming back to take part once more. Following a search in all the countries of the ships that took part in the first race, hundreds of veteran crew members have come forward. We also know of three Captains that are still talking about the experience.
Ginge Sargent took part in the 1987 Tall Ships Race from Weymouth to Cherbourg via the Eddystone Light as skipper of the Ocean Youth Club vessle ‘Grania’. She took line honours and won outright.
If you’d like to sail with a winner and join the Tall Ships Fleet contact us now to make your booking.