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Andy

Seaborne Freight to reopen Ramsgate/Ostende?

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The Mayor of Ostende has announced that 'Seabourne Freight' will re-open the Ramsgate/Ostende service in the early 2019.

Offering up to 6 return sailings per day the company is reported to already have ferries lines up, with a capacity of up to 80- drivers.

One to watch for sure.

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Andy does the company name imply that this will be a freight-only operation or is it expected to be passenger-carrying as well?

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From what I have read elsewhere, the service will start on March 1, 2018 as freight only, with the potential for passengers to be carried in peak season. 

Those behind the service seem to be credible individuals, so fingers crossed they can overcome the remaining hurdles needed to start operation. 

https://theisleofthanetnews.com/ostend-mayor-announces-plan-for-ramsgate-ferry-operation/

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I hope this announcement isn't previous; it seems to have come from the Ostende end.  However I'm surprised Ramsgate has been without a ferry service for so long.  It seems to me it has a lot going for it -- and I have visited on quite a few occasions and been through the port on a few as well.  My memories of Sally Line are of crowded ships!  Where did it go wrong?

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My memories are of travelling on the Transmanche 'Gardenia' in December 2012 to visit the Christmas markets in Ostende & Bruges.

We were one of just three cars loaded, no freight at all. Plenty of room on board!  Fully staffed restaurant and facilities - dined on chicken and chips, having declined a side order offered of brussel sprouts. 

On entering the port at Ostende without any sign of slowing - that was scary!

The experience certainly made me appreciate BF ships

Good luck to the prospective new operators, both Ramsgate and Ostende are interesting and charming ports to enjoy, hope they can make a commercial success of it.

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2 hours ago, Hawser Trunnion said:

I hope this announcement isn't previous; it seems to have come from the Ostende end.  However I'm surprised Ramsgate has been without a ferry service for so long.  It seems to me it has a lot going for it -- and I have visited on quite a few occasions and been through the port on a few as well.  My memories of Sally Line are of crowded ships!  Where did it go wrong?

The Channel Tunnel.

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I certainly hope this happens. Wasn't the crossing time previously around four hours? I would have thought that this might stand a better chance of success if that can be reduced?

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Not possible.  The distance is what it is and it is a very fiddly passage across and around sandbanks just about the whole way (apart from when crossing the main shipping lane).

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I see, thanks. Freight-wise it's hard to see how it could compete with DFDS to Dunkerque, never mind Calais/Tunnel. But then again, if they can get the marketing right and perhaps appeal to hazardous/unaccompanied freight, maybe they can carve out a niche? Ostend certainly has potential for passengers I would say, it's just competing with potentially cheaper fares and a faster crossing on the routes to France.

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17 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

I certainly hope this happens. Wasn't the crossing time previously around four hours? I would have thought that this might stand a better chance of success if that can be reduced?

Five hours if you ended up on the Eurovoyager on a bad day! We did a day trip once, out on EV... the return should have been on Olander but they swapped it to EV, so we ended up with around 12 hours onboard. There's a report somewhere on BFE - it was a slightly surreal experience all in all, which ended with Customs taking the car apart seemingly out of boredom.

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When they were in the RMT fleet, those ships were able to manage the passage to Dover in 3.5 hours.  The main route to Dover was rather more straightforward than the route to Ramsgate, but nevertheless these RMT ships were quite fast.  The slower Reine Astrid (Stena Nordica) took substantially longer, possibly as much as 5 hours.

When Pride of Calais spent her brief spell on the Ramsgate route she didn't used to take the sandbank-threading route that was normal for the smaller members of the fleet.  She used to take the longer (but safer and far less precarious) route along the West Hinder TSS to the Wandelaar pilot station before heading down through the main deep-water appraoch to Ostend through the gap in the sandbanks at Oostendebank East.  But even at her speed the journey took 4 hours.

Edited by Gareth

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3 hours ago, Gareth said:

When they were in the RMT fleet, those ships were able to manage the passage to Dover in 3.5 hours.  But the main route to Dover was rather more straightforward than the route to Ramsgate.

When Pride of Calais spent her brief spell on the Ramsgate route she didn't used to take the sandbank-threading route that was normal for the smaller members of the fleet.  She used to take the longer (but safer and far less precarious) route along the West Hinder TSS to the Wandelaar pilot station before heading down through the main deep-water appraoch to Ostend through the gap in the sandbanks at Oostendebank East.

One wonders just how many ports and ferry crossings involve navigational hazards of one sort or another.  Rather more than one would think, I'd guess.  Isn't there a sandbank outside Calais, for example?   This is why the ferries don't go direct to the port entrance but run along the coast.  And hasn't Newhaven got shifting sandbanks just outside.  The port authority there got into trouble with the MCA, I seem to remember, for not surveying them after every spell of stormy weather in case they'd moved.  Thus I don't think Ramsgate is that exceptional if such as Calais and Newhaven apparently manage.

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You miss my point HT.  I am talking about the intricacies of navigatng around and across sandbanks along the passage, not just piloting in and out of port at each end.  Once out of port confines, the open sea sections of Dover-Calais and Newhaven-Dieppe are entirely free of hazards (apart from other shipping).  There are no other routes for which the offshore underwater topography is as challenging for such a large proportion of the length of the passage as the Southern North Sea off the Belgian coast, and Ramsgate particularly is in completely the "wrong" place for a logical route across these hazards from Ostend.  The passage between Ostend and Ramsgate involves numerous course changes to get through little gaps in the offshore banks that are for the most part unmarked by buoys all the way between the outer approaces to Ostend and the northern end of the Sandettie TSS.  The Ramsgate end is a little easier but does involve crossing a long very shallow underwater ridge (called the Drill Stone) at the right point (again unmarked) on the direct route.  The crossing point, which is the deepest part along the ridge, charts at less than 6 metres - the TEF ships used to avoid crossing it at low water and take a longer route around its northern end.

If you don't know what I am talking about (which in making a comparison with Newhaven and Calais I am assuming you don't) just have a little google of southern North Sea or Ostend charts and you'll see what I mean.

In essence, the Ramsgate - Ostend passage (at least, the route that enables a 4 hour crossing time that used to be taken by TEF) is really not set up for use as a regular sea passage.  In all of the extensive buoying of the Southern North Sea, the authorities just are not expecting ships to be making passage in the areas that this route involved.  In the days of GPS it is manageable, but it's fiddly (and I wouldn't want to be in the unmarked areas around and between these sandbanks between West Hinder and the Belgian coast without GPS - the area is not known as the Graveyard of the Spanish Armada for nothing!).  The safer, deeper, and properly buoyed route (the one that Pride of Calais used to take) would make the passage time even longer for ships that cannot average 22 knots on passage.  Probably 4 and a half or 5 hours.

Edited by Gareth
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9 hours ago, Gareth said:

You miss my point HT.  I am talking about the intricacies of navigatng around and across sandbanks along the passage, not just piloting in and out of port at each end.  Once out of port confines, the open sea sections of Dover-Calais and Newhaven-Dieppe are entirely free of hazards (apart from other shipping).  There are no other routes for which the offshore underwater topography is as challenging for such a large proportion of the length of the passage as the Southern North Sea off the Belgian coast, and Ramsgate particularly is in completely the "wrong" place for a logical route across these hazards from Ostend.  The passage between Ostend and Ramsgate involves numerous course changes to get through little gaps in the offshore banks that are for the most part unmarked by buoys all the way between the outer approaces to Ostend and the northern end of the Sandettie TSS.  The Ramsgate end is a little easier but does involve crossing a long very shallow underwater ridge (called the Drill Stone) at the right point (again unmarked) on the direct route.  The crossing point, which is the deepest part along the ridge, charts at less than 6 metres - the TEF ships used to avoid crossing it at low water and take a longer route around its northern end.

If you don't know what I am talking about (which in making a comparison with Newhaven and Calais I am assuming you don't) just have a little google of southern North Sea or Ostend charts and you'll see what I mean.

In essence, the Ramsgate - Ostend passage (at least, the route that enables a 4 hour crossing time that used to be taken by TEF) is really not set up for use as a regular sea passage.  In all of the extensive buoying of the Southern North Sea, the authorities just are not expecting ships to be making passage in the areas that this route involved.  In the days of GPS it is manageable, but it's fiddly (and I wouldn't want to be in the unmarked areas around and between these sandbanks between West Hinder and the Belgian coast without GPS - the area is not known as the Graveyard of the Spanish Armada for nothing!).  The safer, deeper, and properly buoyed route (the one that Pride of Calais used to take) would make the passage time even longer for ships that cannot average 22 knots on passage.  Probably 4 and a half or 5 hours.

Mildly surprised at this.  Dover is not that far from Ramsgate and I would have assumed the passage to/from the Belgian ports much the same and there has been shipping between them for a very long time.  Whenever I've sailed Dover/Ramsgate-Ostende/Zeebrugge I've not been aware of constant course changes.  Should Ramsgate-Ostende revive and I get to go on it I shall have to look out for them.

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No, the passage to Ramsgate is very different.  It routes around the north of the Goodwin Sands and has to cross the sandbanks on the Belgian side to get to the crossing of the Sandettie TSS.  The route to Dover runs primarily parallel to the sandbanks and comes out of them in the Rade de Dunkerque (just off Calais) from where the Dover Straits TSS is crossed to South Foreland.  Whilst in between the sandbanks the Dover route is still unbuoyed though.

Thinking about it, given that the skippers of the vessels that will be used for the new service are highly unlikely to be already in possession of Ostend PECs, it is almost certain that they will have to pick up a pilot for Ostend entry.  That means they will have to go via the Wandelaar pilot station at least initially.  In turn, that will detemine the route taken to be the longer one via the West Hinder TSS.  Given that, I'd be surprised if they will be able to sustain a crossing time of even 4 hours, let alone anything less.

Edited by Gareth
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In the light of the foregoing why Ramsgate?  Evidently someone sees something in it!  But I am rather sceptical about this latest possible venture if only because the announcement has come from the Belgian end.  Has Ramsgate said anything yet?  I haven't seen anything if they have.  I thought they were talking to Polferries (there's a separate thread on this, I believe).

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Ramsgate makes sense from a commercial point of view.  It's only nuts from a navigational point of view!  From a navigational perspective, Zeebrugge would make more sense than Ostend, especially from Ramsgate.

Edited by Gareth

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