Hail to the Queen

When the Queen Mary 2 came from the sea to call on San Francisco, thousands of people headed to Marin’s shores for a look. From Tiburon to Kirby Cove, families encamped on blankets, photographers unbagged their gear, wine bottles were opened and toasts made.

As the appointed hour of arrival came and passed, strangers shared binoculars to peer westward, rumors of offshore sightings rustled through the crowd like soft wind through dry leaves, and those with marine radios took on the role of newscasters.

A dull haze grayed the air, and the waning sun tinted it yellow. But, still, the view from the bluffs beyond Fort Baker was dead on out the Golden Gate. From there, a good set of eyes could pull in the bobbing flotilla of sailboats, yachts and kayaks that had assembled seaward of the bridge to welcome the great ship and promenade into the bay.

When the QM2 slid into view—and that’s how it was, silently slicing into the expanse of the Gate from behind the jutting prow of the Headlands—it was not anticlimatic at all. The moment was exactly as anticipated, a moment of wonder.

Some people cheered, some whistled, many, many snapshotted away. Countless, though, simply looked on, transfixed, frozen by the sheer audacity of the idea behind the behemoth—a floating, 13 deck building filled with food, fun and seafaring fantasy for those fortunate enough to afford the tariff.

It was a sight, all right. Something to be remembered as the slow years sail by and cease to be.

“Ships went to sea,
and ships came home
from sea, and the slow years sailed by and
ceased to be.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow