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Everything posted by Hermit

  1. Hermit

    Windy Sunday

    Indeed, well done them. Whatever their other faults, the Wight Ryders are well-designed for their route and have only rarely been cancelled for bad weather. The fact that they’ve been able to continue while the car ferries haven’t suggests that on this occasion the determining factor has been wind speed rather than sea state.
  2. Hermit

    Windy Sunday

    So the oldest ferry is the only one that can cope with these (admittedly exceptional) conditions. Makes you wonder what will happen when she finally retires.
  3. Definitely an attractive place for a short break - lots of stunning scenery, a great network of footpaths, some big attractions (Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle, IW Steam Railway), and some good places to eat. (Full disclosure - I live here!). But the cost of bringing a car over is a big issue. It can help if you book early or can find special offers. As to which route, you will see from this thread that Wightlink are particularly unreliable at the moment.
  4. Roundabouts are certainly an improvement on ‘priorité à droite’ junctions, but you need to be aware of the French habit of driving right round the outside of roundabouts, even if going to, say, the third exit, rather than taking a more direct line, as a British driver would. I have often nearly pulled out in front of a vehicle which I thought was turning off into the exit I was waiting to emerge from but which was carrying on round. I’ve often thought they could save on surfacing the middle parts of French roundabouts, since they are never used.
  5. Red Funnel have announced that their summer timetables for both car ferry and Redjet services will be introduced a week late because the refit programme is taking longer than expected. Problematic refits all round this winter!
  6. To be fair, I think most regular travellers would not have any complaint about cancellations due to fog, or indeed any other extreme weather. These are facts of life and clearly the master’s judgement on safety has to be respected. But it’s the cancellations due to mechanical breakdown, to equipment not up to the job, or (least forgiveably) unavailability of staff that rankle. All these can fairly be laid at the door of the management.
  7. I entirely agree. In theory the Fishbourne route has got a lot going for it in comparison with Red Funnel - shorter crossing, enough seating, easier escape from the mainland port, A3 better as a route to London (at least for me) - but this all goes for nothing if you cannot count on the service. The risk of spending 2 hours+ waiting after a cancellation is too great. The cancellation of the midnight ferry last Friday night was particularly shocking. This was eventually rescinded when a suitable member of staff was found, but by then some people must have felt compelled to completely rejig their weekend plans or buy a ticket from Red Funnel. And there have been occasions in the past when it has been cancelled at short notice without reinstatement, leaving passengers stranded on the mainland, without even the option of the ‘restricted passenger numbers’ ferry at 3am. You might expect there to be an obligation to provide hotel accommodation in such circumstances, but there isn’t.
  8. Apparently both - the Wightlink email says it’s due to ‘adverse weather and reduced power on Wight Light’. It’s alarming that even a moderate wind such as we have today is enough to knock out Wight Light. The resulting 2 hour interval service all day will have led to a lot of unhappy customers - really not acceptable.
  9. St Clare passing St Helens on her way to Dunkirk. St Faith still in Southampton. This leaves VoW and Wight Light to maintain the temporary (reduced) timetable by themselves. Has there ever been a time when Wightlink have offered less capacity between Portsmouth and Fishbourne, and what does that say about their market share compared with Red Funnel? The number of sailings on the cat must also be at a historically low level too, now that Wightlink do not charter a relief vessel for the refit period. This can cause difficulty in the rush hours, as happened in the storm a week ago when there was an influx of extra passengers following the cancellation of the hovercraft.
  10. 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.
  11. I recall experiencing something similar with one of the Saints years ago on a very rough crossing to Fishbourne.
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Not only ships - POO is also the code for Poole station under the 3-letter system used by the railways.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. So far so good, but there’s still going to be much fundraising needed. If all those who normally take a trip on the ship would this year give a donation equivalent to the fare that would help a great deal. Let’s hope that Waverley will be able to come down south in September next year to carry out her normal programme based on Weymouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. The inability to call at Bournemouth is a serious blow, given its large number of holidaymakers and wide catchment area. As I understand it, the problem is not just the state of the pier but that silting up has severely limited the states of the tide at which berthing would be possible. Maintaining elderly piers in a fit state to take such a large vessel is always going to be problematical; it’s hard to justify spending money to permit berthing which is only going to take place a handful of times a year. Many piers where Waverley used to call are now closed to it, eg Sandown and Worthing. Last autumn, I was on board the ship when we tried to berth at Clacton, where the pier looks in an even more decrepit state than Bournemouth’s. One of the bollards to which the ship was attached came away, as did part of the pier. The call had to be aborted. It is hard to see where the money to repair such piers is going to come from. The benefit to the tourist industry of Waverley’s operations is clear, but that doesn’t translate into funds for maintenance.
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