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  1. And St Faith will be 36 years old (unless one of the W vessels is brought over again to replace her).
  2. I had the same experience crossing to the island last night. (Cue embarrassment at how long it took me to locate the bonnet switch). The chap in the car in front also had his boot checked and was subject to frisking. Unlike the Folkestone tunnel terminal, no sniffer dog was involved. Given the lack of security measures at Gunwharf the whole procedure did seem ridiculously OTT, until you realise that the PIP is a high security area which those responsible will want to keep secure - the destination of the vehicles entering it is immaterial.
  3. The Stena Sealink service from Southampton to Cherbourg in the early 90s also went via the Western Solent, making an impressive sight as it passed the Needles. I imagine it was the extra time compared with the P&O ships from Portsmouth that ultimately proved uncompetitive.
  4. The move to Fridays predates the Covid rush. I’ve heard it suggested that one factor may be that it’s easier to get people to do the between-guest cleaning on a weekday than a Saturday.
  5. This is absolutely right. And the problem is compounded by ferry operators’ current policy of running ferries as near capacity as they can manage (‘sweating the assets’) by cutting out the less lucrative crossings. This means that when cancellations do happen it takes a very long time for the remaining ship or ships to deal with the backlog. When VoW was off with its engine trouble, people with bookings at reasonable times of day found themselves transferred to sailings at totally impractical sailings in the early hours. The policy of course allows them to charge high fares (very few cheap promotional offers are available these days), but also has the very harmful consequence, at least as far as the IW and its residents are concerned, that for large parts of the time it becomes impossible to book a crossing at all, at any price, except for a long time ahead.
  6. Will there be an MAIB investigation? There is an ongoing one following the not-dissimilar incident last year when the Waverley hit Brodick Pier too hard.
  7. Having returned after its lengthy engine repairs, Victoria of Wight is now out of action again, having made a hard landing at Fishbourne this afternoon. Fortunately no-one seems to have been seriously hurt. The damage appears to be to the underside of the loading ramp, and not very extensive, but will not be something repairable overnight. So we will be back to St Clare and St Faith running a two-boat service, and much inconvenience for those whose bookings get changed. What with Red Funnel’s staff shortages, and the large numbers of staycationers coming here, the last few weeks have really highlighted the lack of resilience in the present operations. And the extraordinarily high fares the companies are charging for this inadequate service.
  8. Sorry, but it’s entirely fair to be critical if a vehicle that has been booked does not get on the ferry. It’s a basic test of the competence of the organisation. I too have been in the position of being left behind despite being booked, resulting in a delay of about an hour and a half (the next ferry was late). This can have serious consequences if you have time-critical onward journeys, though there was no recognition of this by the staff at the time - merely a shrug of the shoulders.
  9. Very sad about the demise of the Zeebrugge route. I worked in Belgium at the end of the 1980s, and for long weekends or holidays I tried to combine Munro-collecting trips to Scotland with visits to family in London. North Sea Ferries (as they then were) and Sealink (ditto) used to offer round-trip tickets at a reasonable price, combining Zeebrugge-Hull and Dover-Calais crossings, or v.v., which suited me very well. The Zeebrugge ships then were Norland (of Falklands fame) and Norstar. I still count them as the nicest ships I’ve crossed on - very comfortable, excellent catering, a civilised timetable. And the excitement of squeezing through the lock. I did the crossing again a couple of years ago, and it was still pretty good. Lots of Yorkshire day trippers off to Bruges. But I wondered whether it could possibly be paying, and there has always been the problem that the ships are lying idle for half the day.
  10. One of them is apparently going to the Epping Ongar Railway, appropriately enough since that was once part of the Central Line. Even though the line served only a small rural population out in Essex, London Transport in its heyday electrified it. It boasted the only station on the underground network from which no other building could be seen (Blake Hall). I understand that the preservationists who now run the line intend to keep the ex-Island Line train operational - presumably by using batteries, since the electric rail has long been lifted.
  11. I’d never realised that it was red below the waterline - is that new?
  12. I believe there were a couple of pinch points, one of which was one of the Ryde bridges, but the track has now been moved or lowered in these places during a couple of recent weekend possessions. We had always believed that it was the tight dimensions of the Ryde Tunnel that limited the railway to tube-train size stock, but this is apparently not the case and the railway are confident that the ‘new’ trains will get through all right. Let’s hope they are right. The trains will be unloaded on to the railway at Sandown, where there is a siding and the approach is easier than anything at Ryde St Johns. I spent a lot of my working life in London using these trains on the District Line; pictures suggest that the interiors won’t have changed very much.
  13. COVID restrictions mean that railway enthusiasts hoping to have a last ride on the 1938 tube stock can’t (or at least shouldn’t) travel to the island. This webcam will be the next best thing for them.
  14. Coinciding with the major road works outside St Mary’s Hospital, this has led to huge delays on the Cowes- Newport road. The proponents of a bridge/tunnel across the Medina have resurfaced, but with about as much chance of success as those advocating a fixed link to the mainland (ie nil).
  15. Portsmouth- Fishbourne currently delayed by 1hr 45 minutes, reportedly because of an issue with the Fishbourne link span. Sounds like déja vue all over again, but particularly unfortunate at a time when the island has been absolutely rammed with staycation visitors. At least they won’t have to worry about being quarantined if the ferry is late.
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