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kenw

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About kenw

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  • Birthday 15/05/50
  1. HONFLEUR - Arriving June 2019

    An old colleague of mine tells me that blocks at one of the German yards [I think he's talking about Meyer] have the cabin "shells" pre-installed – including the bathroom modules. But compared with blocks for the engineering / technical spaces there is not much weight in them. Incidentally the other area where automation is making great strides is in fit-out. The days when craftsmen would labour over every piece of onboard furniture are now behind us. Today's craftsmen are sitting at CAD workstations. The drawings and then models for client presentation and sign-off are created directly from their data – and once approved, it goes to the production plant to do the work. First milling, planing, drilling and carving of wood, metal, laminate and composite materials and then in the case of items in quantity, various automated assembly methods. So several hundred dining chairs were almost literally untouched by human hand until the finishing stage.
  2. HONFLEUR - Arriving June 2019

    The move to automated welding of hull and superstructure plates (from hand work) got under way in the 70s. In my years as PR man for a company which made welding equipment I did several shipyard visits and case studies on automated systems. These were not robots, in the sense of being pre-programmed, but they could climb the side of a hull welding the plates at a much faster rate than manual operators. And the quality was comparable with or better than the coded welders in the yards. The move towards larger sections which could be welded from an overhead gantry while lying horizontally was another big productivity improvement. And of course that's in the shed rather than on the slip or in the dock. Incidentally I was interested to see a report the other day that building on the declivity is now largely a thing of the past. Although of course some yards had undercover slips – eg Vosper Thorneycroft at Woolston. [Aside - can Jonno or one of the other experts remind me, was the hull work down hand? I used to be intimately familiar with all of the different techniques and materials, but time and age have washed much of it away]
  3. Ferry companies and airlines

    Direct Lift Control - that was the term – and the system – my poor old brain was looking for. An ex-Haeco guy gave me a detailed briefing on how it worked, complete with whiteboard drawings. And then next week one came in to Cambridge so was able to see it in action. Am I right in thinking that current Airbus models use similar concept – but of course with more advanced digital control?
  4. Ferry companies and airlines

    The TriStar. Lockheed L1011. Greatest and most comfortable airliner ever – and I've flown in just about everything from a Dragon Rapide to a super-jumbo, including a Hercules and a hot-air balloon. Happily have now abandoned flying in favour of marine transport – which also means I can avoid airports! One of the reasons the TriStar was much-loved by pax and crew alike was its advanced technology – particularly in structure and flight control systems, which which made for smoother flights and landings. These included auto spoilers that made it much easier to keep on the glideslope with small, gentle movements rather than the more obvious alterations used in conventional landing approach. More than a few of these concepts, suitably updated and enhanced, are now of course standard in aircraft such as the Airbus series. Of course its introduction was much delayed when Rolls-Royce went bust – delaying production of the RB-211 engines for more than a year. With their triple-spool design, these were the only power units that would fit the streamlined fuselage nacelle and ducting (see the pic) so aircraft deliveries were seriously delayed. That meant potential airline customers looking to the competition (mainly Boeing). Lockheed needed to sell 500 to cover their costs, but only achieved about half that before abandoning commercial aviation entirely. Then BA decided to use a cheap money deal to buy new Boeings rather than more expensive, conventional finance to give buy more TriStars and give the existing fleet a new lease of life. Haeco in Hong Kong (part of Swire Group and a sister company to Cathay Pacific) had developed a TriStar enhancement programme which would have supplemented the D-check (itself a major dismantling and rebuilding operation that takes several weeks). Haeco subsequently became the centre of excellence for Boeing 747 maintenance and life extension work. But Haeco's engineering expertise repatriated to the UK – to Marshalls of Cambridge, which converted and maintained the ex-BA aeroplanes for the RAF and undertook conversion and maintenance work for several other L1011 operators. But we digress. Let's hope for fine weather in the morning – and hopefully some live TV coverage!
  5. Roscoff to Spain?

    After some more investigations we think we will "decouple" the Spanish cruise trip and an exploration of SW France by rail and coach. Just too complex. The Cruise & Stay breaks offered by BF on the UK website look to be good value for this year. Does anyone know when 2018 prices for C&S will be posted? Or, for budget purposes, shall I just, say, add 5–10% to the 2017 tariffs? if the French are likely to offer anything similar? if not, will the UK offer me a discounted Caen-Portsmouth crossing? Or would that be stealing business from the French? (If I book a round trip ferry-only Caen–Santander via Portsmouth the French will not charge anything for the first and legs to and from France) ... anything else we need to know? TIA
  6. Mileage

    I think Gareth is quite correct. If the currents are favourable, then the OOW and / or navigator will certainly make minor adjustments to course and power to take advantage. However, for a liner, unlike a pleasure boat, maintaining the timetable is the priority: crew hours are subject to agreement and regulation port staff have similar constraints – particularly in France – and shipping companies, port operators and agents do not want to pay people to sit in sheds drinking coffee police, customs and other "security" people are called in to meet schedules on a ro-ro or ro-pax, drivers' hours are also regulated – and of course they may have scheduled stopovers, en-route drops or destinations ... and that's even before we think about the retail customers who may also have schedules to keep – check-in times, key handovers or valuable business appointments If my TV crew colleagues are told: "Sorry, for the late arrival monsieur, but we had to save money on our fuel bill" I can barely imagine the director's reaction. Suffice to say that the next time we saw him would probably be at the Palais de Justice. Does that make sense?
  7. STX shipyard nationalised

    France and Italy have set a September deadline to resolve the ownership issue, according to Agence France Presse (my summary / translation, for which apologies): The two governments agreed on Tuesday to iron out their differences following nationalization of the shipyard STX France – even though a majority stake for Fincantieri had already been agreed. A deadline for an agreement has been set: September 27, 2017. "The Italian and French Governments express their common desire to overcome their differences concerning the balance of the capital structure of STX," says the text of a A joint declaration made public after a meeting in Rome between Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire. But Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda, who was also involved in the meeting, said: "For now, the positions are still very far apart".
  8. Roscoff to Spain?

    Thanks for all the input so far, folks. I hadn't thought of Cork, because the object of the exercise was to get a longer sail than we do between Caen and Portsmouth – and, crucially, then spend some time exploring SW and Western France by train or coach on the way home. But it will be interesting to see if / how customer services price Caen-Spain via Plymouth. I will onpass Ken
  9. HMS Queen Elizabeth

    Torpedoes permitting, I think we should assume a closure of at least 2–3hrs and possibly more – both for nav and security reasons. I would expect QHM to halt traffic in the approach and main harbour area for at least an hour before ETA to complete the security sweep, with small vessels directed out of the restricted zone. Then she has to find her line in the dredged channel, feeling her way in through the harbour entrance, past the Camber, Wightlink, Gunwharf and The Hard. Then will she moor bow inwards or head past the quays to swing and then moor bow facing out? If the latter, the closure will only be prolonged. Will private vessels and/or tour boats be allowed for spectators? That will presumably depend on the assessment by QHM, RN Ops and the security services. So it will be a wait and see. Keen photographers will probably head for Old Portsmouth – weather permitting, refreshments while you wait outside the Still & West – or the Gunwharf waterfront, beyond Carluccio's. A radio receiver tuned to Ch11 could be handy! For everyone else – All Bar One and the other waterfront watering holes are likely to be busy.
  10. Roscoff to Spain?

    Except that the blurb on the timetables page ex-Portsmouth says So the timetable advertises it, but the booking engine doesn't offer it? I tried looking at a trip to Santander than choosing Bilbao as the alternative route - at which point the calendar page no longer gives the price, simply "Please Call" – which suggests that pietons are an availability offer. The one-way trip Portsmouth-Santander with outside cabin will be around the £200 mark, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, BF want to charge me for a Caen-Pmth-Santander trip.
  11. Why can't BF take pietons from Roscoff to Spain? We fancied the idea of sailing to Bilbao, having a few days there and then winding our leisurely way back home to Caen by train and / or coach. But Reservations now say no foot passengers, but did not explain why. It seems illogical. We were thinking of going in about April or early May before the peak season, when the ship would probably not be full. I could understand if the response had been for pietons only at, say, 7 or 14 days notice – ie depending on availability. So the choice appears to be: Go via Portsmouth – which will add to time and cost. Although this might at least allow us the flexibility of rail out / sail home, and maybe some Portsmouth shopping on our return Buy an old "banger" here, drive to Roscoff, and then dump it in Bilbao. There's no way we would want to drive all the way back. But that sounds as if it could be costly and complicated. Forget the idea and just have a bus / coach hol instead, maybe to somewhere with a choice of local boat trips. Any suggestions?
  12. STX shipyard nationalised

    Economy minister Bruno Le Maire is having talks with his Italian opposite number in Rome later today. But Fincantieri has until now insisted that it needs majority control to ensure that it can implement strict operational and financial disciplines. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40778364 The French govt wants to find other French companies who will take a stake in the business alongside the Italians, and before heading off to Italy, Le Maire is being lobbied by Bruno Retailleau, regional president of the Loire region. He has already lined up about a dozen companies, mainly subcontractors to the Chantiers, who have declared themselves as potential investors. For anyone who wants to follow the saga in detail, Ouest-France could be a good source. Here, for instance is a detailed piece on reaction to the decision – and there's plenty more at the same source. http://www.ouest-france.fr/economie/nationalisation-de-stx-les-reactions-en-france-et-en-italie-5158752
  13. The Macron government has decided to nationalise STX as a temporary measure – in order to ensure the best deal with Italy's Fincantieri, which had previously agreed to buy a majority share in the St Nazaire yard. http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-stx-m-a-fincantieri-france-idUKKBN1AC2FF The minister, Bruno le Maire, stressed several times in making the announcement that this was strictly an interim measure to enable fresh negotiationsl. But given that the previous Socialist government concluded back in April that the Fincantieri agreement was the best deal in town, it is astonishing for the new, pro-business leadership to take this decision. [Apologies for starting another thread on this, guys, but I couldn't see my earlier post from 3-4 months ago to add. Suspect I need to tweak my browser] Updates overnight – dinner is in the oven! Ken
  14. Thanks for that. One of my "almost French" colleagues was astonished I hadn't tried it before. AIUI bookings through Blabla are insured centrally, I think by Axa, although I don't know on what terms / what cover that includes. The Blabla website says (in French)
  15. Not sure if this belongs here or in the Open House - moderators, I leave it to you. For all sorts of reasons I found myself returning from Portsmouth to France last week via Saint-Malo, rather than Caen. Sadly, by the time the Service d'Assistance had disembarked me, then waited in vain for the border police, I had missed the morning train home. But some detailed detective work by Mrs W found a solution: train to Rennes and then a BlaBla car. This is NOT a French version of Uber. It is a car-pooling service. So at least in theory, the drivers are simply asking for passengers to share the cost of a trip they are already planning – not doing it as a business. SO my driver, Jessica, collected me outside Rennes station (which currently is more of a building site than the region's major transport interchange) and a couple of hours later dropped me at my front door in Caen. She charged €15, and I was home about an hour before I would have left Saint-Malo had I waited for the afternoon train. First time of using – but I don't think it will be the last. If you're planning a trip, look on the website and see if anyone is offering one that meets your needs. Read all about it at the English end on https://www.blablacar.co.uk/ or on https://www.blablacar.fr/
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