There she was, the Grand Duchess, elegant, poised, and ready to greet her guests. The excitement in the air was palpable. The water was like glass and the gray of the morning fog hung in the air. Cameras were at the ready as T.V. crews and regular folks, like me, anticipated her every move. The Star of India was headed to dry dock for scraping, painting, and a bit of a face lift to keep her in tip top shape.
I was there among the crowd. I knew as soon as I read the email from the Maritime Museum that I had to be part of this special day, especially since it only happens once every three years or so. My two cameras were slung over my neck fitted with a wide angle 17 - 35mm, and my workhorse lens, 28 - 80mm L, that I use ninety percent of the time. I got some strange looks when people saw my circular polarizers on my lenses, but I had decided that I wanted deep, clear water shots, not the sheen I would have had without them. When I checked my shots, I was glad I had made that decision.
Seven o'clock sharp the call came to board. Both the California and the Pilot Boat were headed out to escort the lovely lady. I chose the Pilot Boat because of its quickness in circling and maneuvering, which would allow me to get some great photos. And I'd be able to get some photos of the California somewhere other than where she docks.
Bracing myself at the railing, I watched like a kid. Tug boats gently nudged The Star from her dock and brought her out into the San Diego Bay. I clicked away grabbing one camera then the other camera for a different view. Vertical, horizontal, wide angle, close up. I was giving my gear a workout.
As we moved down the Bay toward Coronado, it was an odd juxtaposition seeing military ships in the midst of tall ships. History standing or should I say floating side by side with modern vessels each respecting the other. Slowly and carefully the tugs led her down the Bay past the San Diego skyline, under the Coronado Bridge, and to her new home for the next two weeks.
Ever so gently the tugs turned her and eased her slowly and carefully into the dry dock. Hoards of workers in hard hats waited for her ready to begin their task of sprucing her up for her grand reentry Labor Day Weekend. She looked small once she was swallowed by the dry dock. Her masts peaked out of the top her flag still flying proudly. She'll be back, fresh and beautiful, ready to great her public once again, people just like me who are fascinated and moved by her greatness and history.
If you'd like to see more photos, I've posted a gallery on my website, www.elizabethheathphotography.com.