Saturday, 31 August 2013

Blast from the past

Here's European Trader at Dover, in August 1990. She was one of a group of three sister-ships - herself, European Gateway and European Clearway built for Townsend Thoresen in 1975 - and one close sister, European Enterprise (renamed European Endeavour after the Zeebrugge disaster in 1987 when P&O wanted to rid themselves of any references containing the words 'free', 'enterprise' or combination of both) built in 1978.
European Trader was eventually moved to Portsmouth and then to the Irish Sea before being sold for further service as Taygran Trader. She finished her days in the Red Sea as Lina Trader and was broken up at Alang in 2006.


I am hoping to catch up with another former Townsend Thoresen ship in a couple of weeks time. Me and a ship-spotting mate are going to southern Spain over a weekend and are hoping to do a day trip to Morocco on Sherbatskiy, the former Pride of Free Enterprise. The flights and the crossing are all booked, so we're hoping nothing happens to the ship in the meantime, she's reportedly not in the best shape. Oh and the flight out is on Friday 13th...wish us luck!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Down by the Solent, August Bank Holiday weekend 2013

Contrary to weather forecasts, today was dry and periodically sunny so I went to Cowes in the late afternoon to photograph a couple of ships which I had no photos of, namely cruise ships Explorer and Seabourn Sojourn. The conditions were variable, mostly cloud with some sun.

I thought I'd missed Independence of the Seas but as I arrived at Egypt Point I could see her in Southampton Water. She made a real racket as she passed Calshot, which I could plainly hear over the car radio (tuned to Radio Solent's football coverage - Saints scraped a draw at home to Sunderland, which was an improvement as we were losing when I left the house).

Next was Explorer, looking a real little minnow compared to the mighty Independence of the Seas.

Aurora was not far behind Explorer. By now the sun had reappeared, sort of, although it was getting pretty low.

Following Aurora was the obligatory car carrier, Canadian Highway, a sister of California Highway which was in Southampton two weeks ago.

Last, but not least, was Seabourn Sojourn. This is the first time I have seen a Seabourn ship, outside of the film Speed 2, set aboard Seabourn Legend.

Summer's nearly finished and, although it has been a cracking summer for weather - in a complete contrast to last year's woeful effort - I'll be glad to see the back of it, for other reasons!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Couple of short videos from last week

Here are a couple of short videos from last Saturday's TSS Solent trip. They're pretty noisy with wind sounds and the boat's engines and they're a bit shakey because it's not practical to use a tripod on a boat. Suffice to say I am better at stills photography than video...

First is a very short one of Lady Hilde in the Solent, on her way to Fawley

Followed by a longer one of Queen Elizabeth departing from Southampton


Sunday, 11 August 2013

A day on the Solent

Back in June I was supposed to join the Thames Ship Society's (TSS) Solent cruise, but circumstances dictated otherwise and I had to change my plans. I emailed Dave Smith, the TSS membership secretary, as he was the only person I had an email address for, and he arranged for the ticket to be changed to the second Solent trip, on August 10th - thanks Dave. The June trip had been blessed with hot sunny weather and I was afraid the August one would be the complete opposite but, although it was overcast at first, the day turned out to be mostly sunny and warm.
I left my car at the park and ride at Somerton and caught the bus down to the Red Jet in time for the 0915 departure. It was a little earlier than I'd intended but I had arrived at the car park at the same time as the bus.

I arrived in Southampton in time to see Grande Napoli depart, along with a knot of TSS members who had either arrived early or who were staying in the area. It was nice to renew acquaintances with people I had not seen for quite a few years - I think my last TSS trip had been in 2005.

The trip, on Blue Funnel's Ocean Scene, departed from Ocean Village at 1200. Usually the schedule is sail up to the container terminal and the western docks, then heading down the Solent to Portsmouth Harbour before returning to Southampton in time to see the cruise ships depart, if any are in. This time was different, in that we went straight to Portsmouth first, which was done so we could hopefully catch the cruise ships further up Southampton Water nearer the docks.

Here are (most of) the photos, so this is a long post.

Tanker Lady Hilde was on her way to Fawley, in a yacht-infested Solent

As were Sarah Wonsild...

...and Kuala Lumpur Express...

...both photographed against the light.

Portsmouth was busy

HMS Duncan

HMS Illustrious

HMS Westminster (left) and Iron Duke (right)

This unidentified Type 42 is being stripped, presumably ready for a trip to breakers.

Poor old Endurance has been laid up awaiting her fate, since an engine-room flooding incident in 2008; she was brought back to the UK on a heavy-lift ship in April 2009. The navy are still deciding whether to scrap or repair her.

Another reefer, Ivory Girl, was on her way into Portsmouth as we left

As was Normandie Express

On our way back to Southampton, we passed close to the tanker berths at Fawley

Selini was at Hamble

As we approached Southampton, the cruise ships were preparing to depart. Crown Princess was first, followed by Independence of the Seas. We missed Marina's departure because we were in the container terminal but saw Queen Elizabeth leave later.

It was at this point that I got stung by a wasp. Of 64 people and one wasp on the boat, who did it sting? I felt something crawling on my shoulder under my t-shirt and, thinking it was a spider for some reason, I hit it. Big mistake. The bugger stung me and in doing so signed its own death warrant.

Schippersgracht, which we'd passed earlier in the afternoon, on her way into Southampton (my photos were rubbish) was preparing to depart.

Next to her was California Highway

Qingdao Tower is still in the docks, sitting rather uncomfortably alongside huge piles of scrap

Into the container port, where NYK Helios, Kuala Lumpur Express and Fritz Reuter were waiting.

The container port is number one performance-wise in Europe and 20th best in the world and, with the expansion of the terminal, as well as the dredging and widening of the Solent shipping channel from the docks out to the Nab, it means the modern big container ships can call here at all states of the tide.

Glovis Champion was another of the car carriers in; Saturday always seems to be 'car carrier day' at Southampton.

There was a bit of a chuck-out in progress because Leo Spirit was also leaving, ahead of Queen Elizabeth

Once Queen Elizabeth had passed, we returned to Ocean Village where the cruise ended at 1800. It had been a nice day, wasp sting aside!
I caught the 1845 Red Jet back to Cowes but, because vehicles were banned from Fountain Yard after 1000 during Cowes week, I missed the bus and had to get a taxi to the park and ride, which was a nuisance because it cost me an extra fiver. A reminder of why I hate travelling on buses, and a petty aggravation I could have done without, but getting a taxi meant I could be home before the next bus arrived.