Friday, 31 May 2013

Hanseatic at Cowes, 31st May 2013

The small Hapag-Lloyd cruise ship was visiting Cowes today and due to depart from there, via the Nab, at 1130. My friend Patricia was coming over to photograph the ship, as it wasn't going up to Southampton, so I arranged to meet her at the Red Funnel vehicle ferry terminal at East Cowes.
It's a nice, warm, sunny day and lovely to be out in, with temperatures of 21°C which is a marked contrast to temperatures of late. It was a little murky but you can't have everything!

Southampton Water, 30th May 2013

We - my aunt and myself - did a quick trip to the mainland yesterday, to see my sister in Newbury and then go and see some puppies in Basingstoke (we're getting another dog :-) ) so I grabbed a few photos on the way back down Southampton Water late yesterday afternoon. The weather in the morning had been atrocious, with outbreaks of rain, so I'd just stayed inside the ferry on the way over but there wasn't much about, in any case.

A few days ago I bought a second DSLR body to go with my 6D although, this time, it's a cheap 600D, as I don't need another full frame body and couldn't justify the cost of a more expensive camera, as I am a hobbyist and not a professional. So far, I am pleased with it, although it is very basic indeed, and it is a lightweight body which produces good results.

The following are a mix of photos from the 6D, with the 100-400mm lens fitted to it, and the 600D with the 24-105mm on it.

Heritage Leader at Southampton - I think the NYK car carriers would win any silly names competition...

Tankers at Fawley, L-R: Nansen Spirit, Patagonia and Bro Anna

I resorted to photos of the ferries, given that it was a little sparse on the shipping front!

While coastal cargo vessel Huelin Dispatch was on her way out to the Channel Islands, on her usual run. The lower photo was taken with the 600D and 24-105mm.

Some video of Huelin Dispatch, also taken on the 600D (the rattling you can hear is the Red Eagle; those ferries have vibrated something awful since their conversion ten years ago).

<whinge>What the hell have Yahoo done to Flickr? What was an easy-to-use photo sharing site has been turned into a user-unfriendly mess. It's now hard to keep track of comments, likes and uploads from your contacts, is so busy-looking that it's now very hard to navigate, it's hard to edit photo settings, the photo-stream is infinite scrolling which I hate and - worse - as a paying subscriber I now find that those with free accounts are getting the same deal, the only difference is that they have a (small and unobtrusive) advert at the bottom of the page.
I'll give it a chance, of course, and see if it grows on me but so far, ten days after the change, it hasn't; to me, it's software geeks rebuilding things for other software geeks and is a triumph of design over function. If it ain't broke don't fix it...but they did  - and their forum announcing the changes has attracted 30,000 comments, overwhelmingly negative.</whinge>

Monday, 20 May 2013

Goodbye Ark Royal

The decommissioned Royal Navy aircraft carrier (or 'through deck cruiser') HMS Ark Royal has been sold to Turkish breakers at Aliaga and today departed under tow from Portsmouth.
Unfortunately I had a stomach bug or other and decided against going over to Portsmouth, instead watching from Seaview.
Typically, the weather was murky with low cloud. The light levels were atrocious and I am fortunate the photos aren't as bad as I feared they would be (I am actually reasonably satisfied with them) but, despite the shit weather, there were quite a few people down at Seaview watching proceedings.

The ship was towed out of Portsmouth harbour by local tugs and the tow was attached to deep sea tug Christos XXIII out in the Solent.

Ark Royal is brought out into the Solent as Grande Ellade passes by

The tow line is attached, which took over an hour

And off they go

And that was that. With Invincible already gone, that only leaves Illustrious as the sole survivor of the three aircraft carriers and that's already been demoted to a helicopter carrier, now the Harrier aircraft are gone. Their replacements, the Queen Elizabeth-class - Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales - won't be ready for some years yet and, even then, there'll be no aircraft for them for years after that so, in the meantime, if we need an aircraft carrier we'll have to call on the French, as we're sharing their Charles de Gaulle - but can we trust the French if our own interests are threatened and we need an aircraft carrier?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Here Come The Girlz (plus Grand Mistral and Höegh Seoul)

Two Cunard Queens, Elizabeth and Victoria, and the Portuguese cruise ship Grand Mistral were in Southampton yesterday and, as she is not scheduled to return this year, I decided to go to East Cowes to see Grand Mistral, which was due to sail at 1700. Her departure time was originally 1800 but had been brought forward, which was ideal for me as I had to get home because some people from our local astronomy society were coming over. The Queens' sailing time was 1630.
P&O Cruises' Aurora was also in but not sailing until 2000.

As it happened the ships all sailed late...the Queens departed after 5pm and Grand Mistral eventually got her arse in gear at 1745 which was annoying, as it made time tight in order to get home in time for my visitors.

The light was again variable but it was a nice day, better than the rain and gales of the previous day and night which wiped out the electricity supply to three villages (including ours), a hamlet and the town of Sandown and, fortunately, the force 9 winds had died down.

Here Come The Girlz

Queen Victoria was first

Followed by Queen Elizabeth

Car carrier Höegh Seoul broke up the procession of cruise ships...

...before Grand Mistral finally appeared in deteriorating light

I was messing about with the colour cast adjustment in Photoshop Elements and got this exaggerated but pleasing effect.

Monday, 13 May 2013


...I have caught up with CMA CGM Marco Polo. On her previous visits to the Solent she eluded me but I got her today as she passed East Cowes on her way into Southampton, in highly variable and squally weather conditions.

Quick switch of the lens to a wide angle...

...and back to the long lens again

And here's some crummy video I took of her turning round the Brambles sandbank. I used my car window as a support because it was far too windy for a tripod.


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Flying visit to see Fram

The small Hurtigruten cruise ship Fram was visiting Portsmouth today for the one and only time, at least in 2013, and scheduled to sail at 1600. I wasn't sure whether she'd be leaving the Solent via the Nab or the Needles and the various Solent shipping movement websites, such as QHM, weren't helpful in that regard - if I could have found out and it was the Needles, I'd have gone to Yarmouth, thereby saving myself the cost of parking and the ferry fare - so I decided to err on the side of caution, especially as the weather continues to be nice, and go to Portsmouth.

Brittany Ferries' Normandie left at 1445

Fram left on time at 1600

And meets Commodore Goodwill in the slightly murky distance

Commodore Goodwill entered the Swashway Channel as I walked back to the hovercraft.

I made the right decision, Fram went via the Nab.

I needn't have hurried too much for the 1645 hovercraft back to Ryde, the bloody thing - the offender was Island Express - had broken down so I had to wait for the 1700. No big deal and only slightly irritating, it wasn't as if there was an hour between departures.

On my way home, while driving along the downs, I could see Independence of the Seas in the distance, on her way from Southampton to Le Havre.