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  1. They’re certainly not doing well at the moment. But, as a multi link ticket holder, I’ve just received a Christmas card from Keith Greenfield with some vouchers for free hot drinks. So that’s alright then.
  2. I recall experiencing something similar with one of the Saints years ago on a very rough crossing to Fishbourne.
  3. I agree it is true that reliability has improved greatly (notwithstanding today’s breakdown). But I would treat the published reliability figures with suspicion. For instance, the prolonged absence in August of one of the two cats was hardly reflected in the figures - in such situations Wightlink presumably simply declare a new timetable rather than admit that there have been cancellations. As anyone who has been involved in setting or monitoring performance measures will know, temptations to skew results in one’s favour are hard to resist.
  4. An update on the barriers - one gate has now been designated the Wightlink gate, with bright blue decals on it. This does at least make it easier for first-time visitors to know where to go, ie through the barrier as opposed to looking for an unobstructed route elsewhere. But the gate still has to be opened by the attendant. Last night I was looked at a bit suspiciously when I asked to be let through a full hour before the next (last) ferry, but none of the alternative attractions on the Hard appealed on a bitterly cold evening!
  5. Indeed - I embarked there for a 3-night cruise to Harwich via Jersey ( I had never been there, and it was not much more expensive than Condor) and Honfleur. This was on Voyager, run by a company called Voyages of Discovery, with whom I had been on a number of longer trips to further-flung places. An elderly ship of great charm, carrying about 600 passengers as I recall, so very different from the Southampton monsters, Unfortunately, the company has since collapsed. The arrangements at the PIP worked well, but I don’t recall there being a cafe open. Having since used the terminal as a footie, I have to say it’s a pretty miserable place to wait until BF eventually deign to call you to board.
  6. Rouen is a very attractive city to visit, plenty of good restaurants available after you have done your cultural duty by going round the wonderful cathedral. For BF enthusiasts, easily accessible by train from Le Havre, where the station is walkable from the BF terminal if you miss the shuttle bus.
  7. Not only ships - POO is also the code for Poole station under the 3-letter system used by the railways.
  8. Mea culpa - it looks as though the crossings have indeed got slower, without me noticing. Perhaps the Fastcats seemed no faster because of the very slow turn they used to make to tie up at the harbour when I was getting nervous about the train connection. As confirmation I have rooted out a Wightlink timetable from 1992 which gives a crossing time of ‘approximately’ 15 minutes. For interest the ‘approximate’ times for the other routes are shown as 35 minutes for Portsmouth - Fishbourne, and 30 minutes for Lymington -Yarmouth, confirming the picture of a general slowdown. One thing I have noticed on all routes is that crossings are noticeably faster if they are at the end of the crew’s shift! Since this thread is supposed to be about Lymington -Yarmouth, it’s interesting to note that the 1992 summer timetable gave crossings every half hour, amounting to an impressive 28 or so each way. A standard return for a small car plus driver was £39.40, with passengers paying extra. More expensive than I would have expected compared with present fares, which do not charge extra for passengers. Clearly there was never a golden age when taking a car across the Solent was a cheap undertaking.
  9. Can I put in a word in defence of the cats. As a regular user of the successive cats over 25 years, I am not aware that the crossing time has changed much if at all. (Frequency and provision of late crossings is another matter). But the Wight Ryders are very well designed for the route and weather-related cancellations are now almost non-existent. They do have ongoing problems of mechanical reliability, though much less than when they were first introduced, and Wightlink seem to have abandoned any attempt to charter replacements when there is a problem. But when running they are by far the best vessels we have had. It’s a nice idea to try to find a new landing to replace Lymington, but the reality is that there are no practical alternatives to the present ports, on either side of the Solent. That is why it is very difficult to see a third operator being able to enter the market and challenge the present duopoly of Wightlink and Red Funnel. Where new operators did succeed in entering markets, as with Norfolk Line (DFDS) at Dover or Western Ferries on the Clyde, fares came down. But that is not going to happen on the Solent.
  10. A really zealous gendarme will also have noticed that after Brexit the GB sign in the circle of stars on rear number plates will no longer serve as the required nationality indicator. The latest UK govt advice is that you must have the old-fashioned white disc as well. Good news for Halfords at least.
  11. Hence the joke that NL stands for ‘Nur Limonade’ (only lemonade in German). That’s all they buy locally, having brought everything else with them.
  12. This is a legacy of the three engine fires on the ‘W’ class. Apparently the ships will not run in winds stronger than 20 knots (gusts to 25 knots), presumably because that would involve the engines working harder, with an increased fire risk. Wightlink were reported as looking at technical fixes that would solve the problem, but appear not to have found any. If the restriction is permanent, it will not do anything to improve the viability of the Yarmouth-Lymington route. I for one will not be using the route if my plans are liable to be upset by what is no more than a strong breeze, and in the windy periods of the year there will be more cancellations than crossings. Good news for Red Funnel.
  13. I’ve often worn these. I have my doubts as to whether they work, but if you’re as bad a sailor as I am you try anything. The problem is of course that you can’t tell how awful you would have felt if you hadn’t been wearing them. i still need to follow the usual strategies of lying in a darkened cabin dosed up with Stugeron, or sitting on a windy deck trying to watch the horizon. i have friends with greater intestinal fortitude who tell me mal de mer is all in the mind, which is of course a great help.
  14. Depends partly where you want to go - obviously if you are travelling to the West Country you would tend to choose Southampton, and for Chichester Portsmouth would be better. For journeys to the Midlands and North via the A34 both are ok. For London it depends which part of the city you’re aiming for - I find the A3 a quicker way in to central parts than the M3. Another consideration is that it is usually much quicker to get through Portsmouth to the motorway than it is from Southampton, whose traffic congestion seems to get worse all the time, whether you’re going through the centre or via the western docks. As for unloading problems, I agree that the new Wightlink arrangements are not satisfactory, and particularly the merging procedure at Gunwharf is quite scary. But the problems at Red Funnel’s Southampton terminal are worse, and it can take a very long time to get out on to the main road. There was a comprehensive road improvement there a year or so back and it is surprising that the opportunity was not taken to put in lights at the terminal exit. As it is, Red Funnel only avoid delays because they have a half-hour turnaround, unlike Wightlink’s 20ish minutes.
  15. Yes, I’d recommend the Thames trips, normally done in October, so sometimes a need to wrap up well. They lack the splendid coastal scenery of the IOW or the Jurassic Coast (indeed sometimes you can hardly see the coast at all) but fascinating nonetheless. A particular surprise was the Blackwater estuary, where we were supposed to be heading after our ill-fated Clacton call - an extensive and very deep estuary which very few people seem to know about.
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