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Pigeonrat

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About Pigeonrat

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  • Birthday 02/08/1983
  1. Pigeonrat

    St Helen

    Yes, I could imagine Caedmon's being the most battered - as you say, she had a good kicking on the Portsmouth route, all those lorries and coaches! In fact Caedmon was fairly dog-eared all round towards the end, she was in notably worse condition than either Cenwulf or Cenred from what I could see, and her early route was the only difference I can think of. The 'Wulf was in pretty good nick in comparison, with Cenred somewhere in between. Not for nothing did Smedegaarden scrap them in that order I suppose. Unlike her sisters we never saw a gruesome video of 'Wulf being ripped to bits and I harboured a brief hope she survived somewhere, but I'm sure it wasn't to be. She' D have made a nice houseboat! In contrast, the four original Saints have (or had in the case of the first two) always seemed roughly equal in terms of condition, although oddly St Faith always seemed slightly rustier despite being the newest - perhaps she always went for overhaul first, and by the end of the season looked the most battered. I wonder which has given Sealink/Wightlink the best value for money though? Got to be between Caedmon and St Cecilia, they must have had the highest mileages on the Solent (and Cecilia is still clocking them up...)
  2. Pigeonrat

    St Helen

    No I don't think so, as far as I can tell from when I have been on the mezz decks they are hinged in the centre - you lower one side to allow cars on, and then lower the other side to allow them off. They are able to be raised at the centre and stowed, but I have never once seen them at floor level in 30 years of travelling on them. I will have a look next time, or someone else may be able to correct me. Certainly they seem to be slower and less powerful than they were in the 1990s, although that probably had as much to do with fat and heavy modern cars as it does to mechanical fatigue. The C-class were the opposite in that the decks were stowed on the floor (deck) when not in use, and were driven over like a giant speed hump. The decks were in two pieces like the Saints, but the whole deck was raised and lowered rather than just one end. I seem to remember they were lowered seperately (presumably the hydraulics could not do both at the same time, or not at that point in their lives at least), so cars could not be parked across the gap like they can on the Saints. If you were on the half not being raised or lowered there was a sheer drop, but with the typical C-class quaint charm you were protected from this with a nice little rope and poles which plugged into sockets in the mezz deck...
  3. Pigeonrat

    St Helen

    Blimey, and I thought Spithead could get a bit dodgy! Poor old Helen seems to cope with it surprisingly well, although that is a lot of water on the car deck... And I thought the pair of them were enjoying a peaceful retirement in the sunny Med! Found another one of Caedmon battling the worst the Solent could manage, big prows clanking away:
  4. Pigeonrat

    Goodbye St helen

    Wow! Great to see the pair of them still so recognisable from their time on the Solent, and if we're honest they look like they are looking after them better than Wightlink did, at least towards the end. I would imagine Cecilia will follow them soon enough, and presumably Faith as well. In the second of the interior shots above, I'm trying to place where that is...it looks like the upper passenger deck but they seem to have enclosed the stairwell for some reason. Interesting that the Needles advert had survived, what about the murals at the front of the main lounge? I seem to recall St Catherine had an artwork of the lighthouse there, I can't remember what Helen had though, or even if they survived to the end of Wightlink service anyway.
  5. Pigeonrat

    Wightlink port redevelopment & new G class

    Out of interest, does anyone know why she's been towed all the way here? I don't think this has happened before, the Wight Riders didn't make it under their own steam (and nor did Patricia, although Pamela did...), but as far as I'm aware every one of the car ferries has been sailed under power for their delivery voyages. I hope this isn't an indictment of her performance in rough weather, I'm sure it isn't, although I am curious as to what the reasoning is...
  6. Pigeonrat

    Wightlink port redevelopment & new G class

    Unfortunately, as a regular user for many years I'm inclined to agree. I visit the island regularly, and although I still enjoy the ferry crossing the novelty has somewhat worn off after 25 years. Thus, I have two requirements from my cross-Solent operator - get me across in the shortest time, and keep my wait at the terminal to a minimum. I am a staunch defender of Wightlink but they have been losing the plot on the first point for nearly a decade and now it looks like the second is going to follow. As a kid we used the Fishbourne route when it had the four identical Saints and I seem to recall it being a reasonably reliable 35mins. Once I was old enough to drive I switched to Lymington, where the C-class offered a 30min crossing every half an hour. Once the W-class turned up this service dropped markedly, with less frequent crossings which were slower. I switched back to Fishbourne as the next best option, although it seems slower than it used to be, normally taking 40mins plus in my experience. Nevertheless, there is generally still a ferry every half an hour, so if I get stuck in motorway traffic it's not a long wait (the reduction in night service is a nuisance though). Others may know better but I have long thought the St Clare is the reason for the slower service, I know she takes longer to load but I get the impression she is underpowered too. Only a couple of weeks ago I was surprised when I got into Portsmouth on Cecilia in 35mins like I used to - coincidentally or not, Clare was tied up out of use... When all is said and done, if the Fishbourne service becomes hourly - and takes 45mins or more - why would I not go to the better customer service and better experience of Red Funnel on similar terms? And if other long-term customers like me are of the same mindset, Wightlink may have made a disastrous mistake in negating their biggest advantage 🤔
  7. Pigeonrat

    St Clare

    Yes, and it's surprisingly obvious in shots like that. Plus all the soot only comes out of one funnel. Mind you, even by ferry standards she ain't a looker, now is she ;-)
  8. Pigeonrat

    St faith

    Yes, I've thought this, it seems the logical way of doing things. Have two large ships (St Clare and St Newbuild) running the hourly sailings, and the smaller Cecilia and Faith on the half-hour sailings. Either transfer the Wight Sun back to Yarmouth or if they are certain there is no need for three on that service any more then sell one of the W's, as their market value at seven years old must still be reasonably high. Use the money towards a proper "life extension" refurb of Cecilia/Faith, as was done with the C-class in the early 1990s to give them another 10 or 15 years of good service. This way you'd have two pairs of closely-matched ships at Portsmouth and still get to retain a pair of capable poor-weather boats which would be better in these conditions than St Clare, and presumably the equally-tall new-build. Seems the most logical option to me. Sadly Wightlink are, sometimes, depressingly illogical. Instead I can see the service being reduced in frequency with, ultimately, just the St Clare and the new-build. That would be a big shame, and losing the half-hourly boat would remove what is probably my main reason to use Wightlink over Red Funnel...
  9. Pigeonrat

    St faith

    Yes, I've thought this, it seems the logical way of doing things. Have two large ships (St Clare and St Newbuild) running the hourly sailings, and the smaller Cecilia and Faith on the half-hour sailings. Either transfer the Wight Sun back to Yarmouth or if they are certain there is no need for three on that service any more then sell one of the W's, as their market value at seven years old must still be reasonably high. Use the money towards a proper "life extension" refurb of Cecilia/Faith, as was done with the C-class in the early 1990s to give them another 10 or 15 years of good service. This way you'd have two pairs of closely-matched ships at Portsmouth and still get to retain a pair of capable poor-weather boats which would be better in these conditions than St Clare, and presumably the equally-tall new-build. Seems the most logical option to me. Sadly Wightlink are, sometimes, depressingly illogical. Instead I can see the service being reduced in frequency with, ultimately, just the St Clare and the new-build. That would be a big shame, and losing the half-hourly boat would remove what is probably my main reason to use Wightlink over Red Funnel...
  10. Pigeonrat

    Ex Fastcat Ryde & Shanklin

    To be honest, I wouldn't be that surprised if they were scrapped in the not too distant future. After all, some of the HSS's are going as said above, and Pat and Pam only made it to 20 - 22 years old each before they went (and both were used sparingly towards the end too). The waterjets were built in 1996 as I recall, so sort-of getting there. I suppose fast craft have a harder life, but there again the hovercraft seem to make it a bit further.
  11. Pigeonrat

    Cuthred (Mira Praia) Lots of photos

    Thanks Sailorboy, I remember your post on the other C-class thread, your contributions are always fascinating. I knew Cenwulf had run to the old slipway at Fishbourne at some point but couldn't remember when it was, so thanks for confirming. Interesting that with the disposal of the C-class Wightlink no longer have that redundancy available...I presume that's where that "St Anton" thingy or whatever it's called would come into play nowadays. Impressed that Caedmon was classed as "mechanically OK". I recall someone made a joke when Caedmon was decommissioned that sales of Bradex Easy-Start would drop by about 50% since she was no longer in need of a can or two to kick her into life every morning! I don't know how much truth there was in that but it would fit her somewhat beaten-up and dog-eared reputation. But I have to say I cannot actually recall the C-class service being unreliable at all when I was a regular user in the late '90s to late 2000s, the three elderly ships seemed remarkably dependable (with the possible exception of the mezzanine decks). Going back to Cuthred, I wonder if she did ever see anything more than the Portsmouth to Fishbourne slog? Not flexible enough for Lymington and not powerful enough for the "cruises" that used to occasionally take place, it's odd the difference that a bit of cost-cutting can make.
  12. Pigeonrat

    Cuthred (Mira Praia) Lots of photos

    I'd read about Cuthred rupturing her fuel tank in John Faulkner's book too, and no-one owning up to it - or indeed even noticing until she ran out of diesel! That must have been an interesting conversation with the various captains, "Where's all the diesel gone? Who ripped the bottom out of the ship?" "Er, not me guv, could've been anyone..." One presumes Cuthred (or indeed any of the ferries) does not have a fuel gauge! From the same book I seem to recall there were also vague plans in about 1980 to fix Cuthred with another pair of engines and propellors to work alongside her existing ones (so circa 1500bhp). Probably would have bounced across the Solent like a hovercraft had they done so, but in the event no-one bothered and she was simply relegated to backup ship by the Saints anyway.
  13. Pigeonrat

    Cuthred (Mira Praia) Lots of photos

    The side doors are interesting because Caedmon couldn't have used them on the eastern route, not in the sense that we know it anyway. Khaines makes a good point in that they were used at Ryde Pier, so the third option is that this was always intended. Even by 1973 the three diesels running the Ryde passenger route were becoming pretty decrepit and perhaps B.R intended to replace them by just having the car ferries stop at Ryde Pier en-route, hence Caedmon having the doors fitted. This would have been a nuisance for all concerned but would have saved B.R a lot of money. Clearly it was an idea only in fashion for a brief period if true, as neither Cuthred nor St Catherine were fitted with such facilities. It would be interesting if someone who worked on the C-class could corroborate whether or not Cenwulf was in the best nick, she certainly seemed that way to me. She also was the last to be broken up, some months after her two sisters, suggesting the shipbreakers also considered her the best of the three and the most likely to have a future, alas this was not to be. I could see little difference between Cenwulf and Cenred travelling on them although Cenwulf seemed smoother and slightly quieter, plus Cenred suffered a cracked hull at some point which may have counted against her chances of survival. Caedmon, of course, was the "village bike" and battered in every department, bless her ;-)
  14. Pigeonrat

    Cuthred (Mira Praia) Lots of photos

    As said, Caedmon always was built for Portsmouth and thus had a harder life to start with. I believe she only moved to Yarmouth once St Helen debuted, so 1983/4, by which time she'd already taken a clobbering for a decade as Portsmouth's main ship. Cenred also served at Portsmouth for a few months when she was new. Interestingly Cenwulf never did, at least not until after the millenium I think, when she undertook a few runs from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. Quite a feat going for nearly 30 years without doing so! Cuthred wouldn't have been ideal at Yarmouth on account that she didn't have the side doors for passengers. It's funny that Caedmon did have them fitted...either she was always intended to move to Yarmouth one day or, more likely, it was as cheap to build the three sisters the same so why not...
  15. Pigeonrat

    Cuthred (Mira Praia) Lots of photos

    Yes, it's odd that there is little in the way of info about Cuthred. I suppose she wasn't even 20 years old when she left the UK so hadn't yet acquired "historical interest". I do know she was generally considered underpowered and unable to cope with bad weather - think the B.R equivalent of St Clare then, only with a bit of character I would imagine! - but there seem to be very few first-hand experiences of her. I always thought the way the lifeboats were set into the sides was a very space-wasting way of accomodating them, basically losing both stairwells from the later C-class. It would be good to bring her back but she does look quite far gone...sadly I think the chance to save a C would have been the Cenwulf really, and if the best-condition of the four was worth more as tin cans than as a ship I can't see any other outcome for Cuthred either. There was a rumour going around that Cuthred was fitted with the engines from Camber Queen when the latter was scrapped. I don't know if that's true or not, but it would seem an odd decision given that those engines must have been less powerful than Cuthred's originals, which weren't really up to the job to start with. She was not blessed with the powerful Blackstones of the C-class and to make matters worse they had to generate the ship's electrical power as well. Unless there were some modifications it would seem bizarre to fit the engines from a much smaller ship!
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