Thu 29th August 2019 at 19.00 - 21.00
Scott cruises through his talk!
The speaker at last week’s Rotary meeting was member Scott Elliot, who reflected on his recent 37 day cruise – America, Canada and Iceland. He joined Cunard's Queen Elizabeth in San Francisco. This is a spacious ship with 12 decks carrying 2,081 passengers and 1,005 crew. The first port of call was Los Angeles, arriving on the evening of 4 July (American Independence Day) where the ship held position next to sister ship Queen Mary for a grand fireworks display, before berthing ready for a full next day in the city. At all ports there are various options for excursions from the ship, or you can simply do your own thing. However if you choose the latter you have to be sure to be back on the ship by the advertised time – or else you could be left and have to make your own arrangements from there!
Continuing down the west coast, countries visited were Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica, before arriving in Panama for the transit through the Canal the following day. While in Mexico there were t-shirts for sale with the message – “Keep calm: You’re on the fun side of Trump’s Wall”. For many, one of the highlights was to be the transit through the Panama Canal, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The first effort to build an all-water route through Panama began with the French in 1880 but financial problems and tropical diseases ruined the initiative. The construction was agreed as a joint venture between the now independent Panama and the United States and completed in 1914. Expansion of the Canal was completed in 2016, which doubled the capacity to meet the growing demand of world trade. It proved to be a fascinating and interesting experience, as the ship slowly made its way through the system of lock complexes, with sometimes only inches to spare at each side. The next port of call was in Aruba and then on to Fort Lauderdale, to be followed by New York. With so much to see in this city, especially for first-timers like the speaker, choices had to be made. Scott chose the 9/11 Memorial to “take some time to reflect and pay your respects to those that lost their lives there – a place of Remembrance”; followed by Central Park where he succeeded in getting lost; and then on to the Rockefeller Centre. An evening sail down the Hudson River, on a lovely sunny evening completed the day.
There were visits to two Canadian ports – Halifax, Nova Scotia and St John’s, Newfoundland. In Nova Scotia it was quite appropriate that he visited the archway on the shore “The Last Steps”, remembering those Canadian Soldiers whose last steps were taken at Passchendale in 1917, described as the “bloodiest fight in Canadian Military History”. Appropriate because the speaker had missed the Hawick Callants Club event in the Park on 12 July when the Passchendale Silhouettes were unveiled. In St John’s was St Andrew’s Church – the Kirk - the first Presbyterian Church in Newfoundland, built of brick and stone imported from Scotland in the 19th century. There were then three days at sea before arriving in Iceland visiting Isafjordur and Reykjavik where the weather was somewhat cooler, but still daylight at midnight. After leaving Iceland it was back to Southampton with stops at Greenock and Dublin. Two onboard speakers were interesting – Dr Hillary Jones, who has appeared on TV, and Brian Wood MC, who spoke powerfully and movingly about his time in the front line in Iraq, and his struggles to settle back in home life, before going through years of shame following the Inquiry into War Crimes, until the false allegations were exposed and justice was served.
Finally the speaker reported that he had attended three Rotary meetings on board ship with fellow Rotarians from America, Australia and the UK.
After questions, Ron Sutherland delivered the Vote of Thanks.