Thursday, 31 October 2013

Farewell Pride of Calais...well, almost!

After months of will-she-won't-she speculation and rumour the former Pride of Calais, now known as Ostend Spirit, finally showed up on the Port of London departures list as departing from Tilbury on 30th October 2013 at 1100, destination - the one nobody wanted to see - Aliaga.
I asked for - and got - a short notice day off work (no, of course I didn't tell them why!), booked a return crossing for myself and my car with Wightlink on the 0600 service from Fishbourne, collected fellow enthusiast 'Slinky-Dave' Shepherd at Leigh Park and drove to Northfleet.

To cut a long story short, the ship left her berth, turned round, approached the lock, buggered about for a bit and then went back alongside with the departure aborted for unknown reasons (later we found out it was a rudder problem) so that was that. With no new departure time we called it a day and headed back to Portsmouth. The ship eventually left at 1900 the same evening, but with work the next day, pets to see to and it being dark, there was no point in hanging around.
It would have been nice to get decent photos but, if we hadn't ventured up to the Thames while we had the chance and she had gone as scheduled, we'd have kicked ourselves.
As you can see from the pics, fellow ferry European Seaway (which I was fortunate to sail on in 2005) has been keeping her company at Tilbury - and Seaway's own future is less than assured.

I have followed her on the AIS since and she has been doing speeds of up to 17 knots since leaving the Thames. There is nothing wrong with this ship and it seems criminal to send her to the breakers, which is a sentiment echoed across forums and Facebook groups.
Anyway, yesterday didn't go as planned but at least I did see her one final time - and I at least did catch up with her in her Ostend Spirit guise - and was able to say Farewell My Friend. I am running out of favourite ships...

I have got some photos of other ships seen on the day, I'll post these at the weekend.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pumpkin power

Yesterday, a London artist, Dmitri Galitzine, crossed the Solent, from Stokes Bay to Wootton Creek, in a giant pumpkin, complete with two outboard motors. The journey went so well that he sailed it back. I think that if I hadn't been stuck at work I'd have gone down to Wootton Creek to watch him sail in. Given the costs of and also the cutbacks to the Solent ferry services it would be tempting to rush out, get a giant pumpkin (or any other oversized vegetable), hollow it out and fix a couple of outboard engines to it...

Here's a link to a video of Dmitri's pumpkin Solent crossing.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Tiny Treasures

Off topic a bit, but related, are ship models. I've always liked ship models although I've never collected them, thanks to too many house moves over the years and lack of space but, over the past year or so, several have found their way into the house, mostly the cheap (and, let's be honest, crudely-made) souvenirs sold aboard cruise ships.
The models which are made to the 1:1250 scale are popular among collectors, simply because they are small and therefore don't take up much room. The small scale though doesn't mean that detail is too compromised although, inevitably, some will be missing.

The sole 1:1250 model I currently own is European Seaway, which I recently bought from Classic Ship Collection in Germany. It wasn't cheap, but their models aren't, at a cool €168 including posting. I am hoping to add to this of course and there is a ship model and ephemera fair coming up in Southsea next month, the South Coast Ship Show on the 16th, which is a good opportunity to be parted from my hard-earned.

One of my other models was made by a friend ten years ago. She made models of the three Townsend Thoresen Spirit-class ships and gave me the one of Herald of Free Enterprise, made of card and glue. The cats have knocked it off a couple of times, meaning the main mast broke off, but it was easy to glue back on.

I also have a Triang Minic Queen Mary, a cheap model which is not bad but lacking detail such as windows, however, it is pretty good for only a few quid.

Here are the rest, cheap resin models of cruise ships. Top to bottom Royal Princess, Aurora, Independence of the Seas, Queen Mary 2, a tiny Celebrity Constellation, the Triang Queen Mary, Vision of the Seas, Oriana and the Herald of FE model.

Hopefully this lot and future purchases will soon be housed in a display case, as soon as I can justify ordering one from Argos. It'll protect them - more so the expensive and more fragile ones, rather than the souvenirs - from dust and the attentions of the cats.

On a completely different note, come on Saints, wipe the collective smug smirk off arrogant plastic Manc faces (Edit - and that's exactly what happened, with a last minute equaliser).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bretagne to St. Malo 11th/12th October 2013

I did a round trip to St. Malo on Brittany Ferries' Bretagne, sailing from Portsmouth on the evening of 11th October and returning on 12th October. I was joined by my friend Slinky-Dave, who'd booked the trip, and it was just an excuse to spend the best part of 24 hours at sea while drinking as much beer as possible.

A note on the photos: I had to change my desktop PC today as the hard drive on my existing one showed signs of failure. The new one has the Windows 8 operating system (which so far I am not keen on, hate that garish look) and, although my software all works with it, some files have done odd things, such as the watermark coming out in various sizes, unlike before.

Mont St. Michel was in, while behind her was Commodore Goodwill.

Portsmouth looks pretty at night, with the Spinnaker Tower and the coloured lights along the old walls. One of the Wight Ryders followed us out of the harbour.

After an uneventful overnight crossing - apart from a tiny bit of rolling now and again - we arrived in St. Malo early the next morning. It was wet but not cold. After disembarking we checked back in and then went for café obligatoire at the terminal coffee shop. We didn't have long, only an hour or so, both of us had been there before, and the weather was dismal so we didn't bother going for a walk along to the Intra Muros (walled town).

The small coastal cargo vessel Lady Carina arrived as we were departing

 I think the trawler had a problem, she came in accompanied by the local tug Davier.

A local sailing boat whose name I couldn't see.

I took quite a few exterior shots, including on the bow which is open to the public except at night or in inclement weather.

There was a bit of shipping about in the Channel but most of it too distant to photograph properly. Commodore Clipper was on her way to the Channel Islands from Portsmouth. The photo was taken at the limit of my 100-400mm zoom lens.

Blue Marlin was one of a number of tankers in the Sandown anchorage.

There was a fabulous sunset as we passed the Isle of Wight and entered the Solent

Christos XXIV and another tug, Spartan, were in the St Helens anchorage, waiting to tow old redundant warships from Portsmouth to the breakers.


 Leonora Kosan

 HMS Endurance, now under sentence of death, laid up in Portsmouth.

SD Indulgent

This reefer, Star Endeavour 1, nearly got away.

St. Cecilia

SD Powerful and St. Faith

Cracking sunset.

We were off the ship and out of the terminal in very quick time. Dave went for his train back to Havant while I met up with another friend, Stella, for a quick beer in the Ship Anson pub before getting the 2015 Wightlink cat home.

It was a good trip and the 24-year old Bretagne is a nice ship in good condition - and a huge contrast to the run-down Isabella 1 of a month ago. Let's hope she sticks around for a good many years yet.
Also, a word about the Portsmouth terminal; years ago this was a dingy, tatty and depressing building which you really didn't want to be in for longer than humanly possible. Not any more. The old one was torn down and its replacement, opened in 2011, is light, airy and with excellent facilities.