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Pigeonrat

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Everything posted by Pigeonrat

  1. She looks good! Yes, they've left behind the plastic plaque on the superstructure, I'm sure that will be removed at some point. Mind you, I believe the original names on the Saints were embossed on the bow and stern and are still readable through the white Delcomar paint anyway, so their original names will survive in some form.
  2. She'll be off soon then I should think. They certainly clean up well, and seem to stay in better condition under Delcomar - mind you, the weather conditions are a lot kinder down there! I suppose St Faith will end up down there soon enough too, and that'll make me feel old, as I remember her entering service...
  3. This is true. I have to say however that Portsmouth has its own problems in this regard. I will reserve judgement until I've done it several times, but certainly on this occasion, the merge between the upper deck traffic and the lower deck traffic is so close to the road that it was something of a free-for-all the other night. From the upper car park I managed to beat a lorry to the "hole in the wall" to exit the terminal, but both before and after there were people from both decks trying to turn left at the same time onto Gunwharf Road. Depending on the common sense of the drivers in question, some were slotting in one-by-one, others from the upper deck traffic ended up driving along the hatching on the wrong side of the road with the left indicator on, trying to force their way in... I'm not sure what Wightlink can do about that realistically, the ramp down from the upper car park is just too close to the perimeter wall/Gunwharf Road really, but it's too late now. Perhaps the hatching on the road could be replaced with a merge-in-turn lane up to the right-hand bend and the inbound lane going the other way replaced by taking some land from Wightlink's car park, I don't know. The car park thingy with all the metal beams also buggers up the reception on the car radio for Sam FM (one of the things which keeps me sane waiting for a delayed sailing!) when parked on the lower level too, but I can't imagine Wightlink being too concerned about that one!
  4. Very true. But between the mid-1920s and Cuthred's arrival in 1969, a not dissimilar time-span, not much changed at all... Anyway, we should applaud Wightlink for snatching victory from the jaws of victory for a change. I feared another decidedly mediocre ship like we had in 2001 (and, to a lesser extent, the rather underwhelming 2009 trio). I just wish they'd stop deliberately downgrading the timetable, though there's little chance of that I'm sure. And I do think her name is a bit clunky, perhaps "St Victoria" might have been better. Here's a couple of extra pics that breached the forum limit;
  5. She's worth a try. Amazing to think that just 50 years ago the service was in the hands of Fishbourne and Camber Queen, with their small capacity and tiny under-deck lounges. We have come a long way!
  6. A few pics of VoW, having travelled on her twice over the weekend. She is quite impressive, feeling more like a small cross-Channel ferry than the shuttle service we have been used to so far. There are two car decks (the lower one being double-height, surprisingly with no Mezzanine that I could see), with two passenger decks above. The upper car deck loads from the shore ramps and feels very Channel-like driving in from Fishbourne beneath the lounge and bridge. The main lounge (Deck 4, Deck 3 being the upper car deck and Deck 2 being apparently non-existent) features a Wight Taste servery and comfy sofas in the middle with the usual snacks and drinks, a pets area, fruit machine room and spacious toilets at the stern, and a "panoramic lounge" at the bow with huge windows and disappointingly uncomfortable aircraft-type seating. It's nicely finished with dark wood-effect and turquoise mood lighting in the ceilings. The usual flatscreen TVs are dotted around showing the usual adverts. The upper lounge is a smaller version of the main one, with more table-and-chair seating, a Costa Coffee in place of the servery, no pet area and green mood lighting instead of turquoise. There is even a movie room, sadly it is aimed at kids rather than adults. It was closed off on the 10pm Friday sailing but open on the 6pm Sunday sailing, presume this is due to crewing and/or passenger numbers. Outside there are no less than three open decks, one off of each lounge with tables and chairs plus an extra viewing platform on the funnel deck, a nice nod to St Faith. There are two pairs of fixed binoculours, neither of which were particularly useful but a nice idea nonetheless. She seems fast enough and managed both trips in 35 minutes, much like the original Saints - interestingly, like the 1980s ships, she is unidirectional and swings off Fishbourne beacon on the return journey. Wightlink quote 45mins but I suspect this is more to allow scope for the useless Clare to shudder across the Solent than any deficiency in the new ship. The engines shut down entering Portsmouth and from there on she was on electric power. All in all, she is very impressive. I much prefer her to St Clare, which I never warmed to from day one. There are a couple of problems however, and Wightlink still don't seem to have rediscovered the superbly efficient design of the original Saints. The sheer size of her makes her time-consuming to load and unload and both my sailings left 15mins late, despite the terminal screens desperately trying to convince us we were on time. Perhaps this will improve with crew familiarity. She also has a surprising amount of vibration, with Clare-style vibrating outside staircases, but at least your coffee doesn't dance across the table unlike on the Clare. There is a surprising amount of roll - I think she'll struggle in poor weather, to be honest - and she heels over quite noticeably when swinging off Fishbourne. Perhaps my greatest concern is her build quality however...several bits of paintwork are already looking shabby, the stainless steel lift doors on the car deck are rusting - badly - already, and I noticed a couple of ceiling panels starting to sag and collapse, which is a shame. These points aside though, she is well worth travelling on. I would still choose an Eighties Saint over her, although I'm probably in the minority there! Wightlink have definitely seized the opportunity to provide an interesting ship though, and I stand corrected - as long as she proves reliable, she should have a long and successful career. But Wightlink, please, change your mind about reducing the number of sailings - two hours between sailings of an evening is just not good enough, sorry.
  7. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    Cheers, that's very helpful 🙂
  8. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    Does anyone know what running order the ships would normally be on (assuming the wretched Clare is actually running)? Going to the island this weekend and would like to get on VoW or St Faith, and avoid St Clare and whichever W-Class if possible. I know the main boat used to be the odd hours from Portsmouth and evens from Fishbourne with the second boat the other way round, so assume VoW and Clare respectively, with Faith on the half-hours where they still exist...
  9. Think I'm inclined to agree, Cuthred's ones at least look like they might be vaguely comfortable. The later ones have that look about them, like my barber's waiting chairs, that they might not be as bloody uncomfortable as they look because they are at least shaped. Then you sit on them and, actually, to be fair to them, you realise that they are bloody uncomfortable, yes. Caedmon's were definitely yellow, as were Cenred's - Cenwulf's, as said, I don't know. Caedmon's might have appeared orange at the time if they were on fire, obviously, which did happen!
  10. Really interesting stuff, thanks so much for that. The upper lounge definitely has a whiff of Sixties style about it, and I find it fascinating how much things have changed - ashtrays everywhere including the full length of the bar, asbestos insulation all over the place, a roll-call of manufacturers with solidly British names for every tiny item (doubtless mostly now defunct including the shipyard), and most of all the fact that the toilets simply discharged overboard! I can imagine the C-class also had the toilets dumping overboard - surely the Saints didn't/don't - but I wonder when this was redesigned? I think that would have been frowned upon if it was still happening when Cuthred left the Solent, let alone Wightlink still being allowed to do that in 2009 assuming the C-class was the same. Some redesigning must have taken place! Also interesting that Richards the builders didn't appear to make a profit on her, but took the contract on as a learning exercise in the assumption that they would get the order for Caedmon et al. Didn't happen of course, that order went to Robb Caledon in Dundee, and from what I remember reading at a vastly inflated price since both the hard-up shipyard in Scotland (desperate for the money) and the customer (British Rail) were both publicly-owned. I bet the Lowestoft yard was pissed off!!
  11. Those photos of Cenwulf's interior I vaguely recall as being the original Wightlink interior, presumably fitted during their life extensions in about 1992-93. They were refitted (albeit with what appeared to be the same furniture reupholstered) in something like 1998-2000 with the bright carpets etc, which they kept till the end. As an ex-TV engineer, I notice such things - I could tell that was Cenwulf from the original early 70s Tannoy speaker above the stairs, like something out of a museum! Caedmon and Cenred had lost these at some point for modern black ones long ago. So it looks like Cuthred is for the chop at some point soon then, that's a shame. I wonder why she and the one next to it have been carefully moored afloat whereas the other two have been just run onto the beach? Come to think of it, what happened to the ferry service anyway? Gone bust through lack of customers or something a bit more strange?
  12. I never made it into the lower lounges on the Cs, they had long since been closed off by that point. Sadly the only time I ever saw them was during the somewhat gruesome demolition videos, and the seats were a bright mustard-yellow colour as seen a lot in the early 70s, moulded plastic. I can't imagine they had faded as there was no natural light down there! Caedmon and Cenred both had the mustard-yellow, no demolition video exists for Cenwulf but I presume it was the same. I believe the upper lounges were different across the four ships though, rather like the Saints before they were refitted in the 1990s "Spithead Pushmepullyou", I like that... Yes, please do post any other photos you have - Ward and Austin were indeed the team behind the more interesting Sealink ships so should be worth a look...
  13. There aren't many interior shots of any of the Solent ferries really - one of the Wightlink books has plenty of shots of one of the C's (Cenwulf I think) in the late 1990s, shortly after they were refurbished in finest "Travelodge Conference Room circa 1996" style with lots of pale wood, brightly patterned carpets and fake plants, but nothing beforehand. Nothing of the Saints really either, not even the murals which certainly featured in the original 1983 pair and probably the later ones too before the shop/kiosk thingy was built, I can't say I remember. It's a pity really because I'm sure the original interiors were quite interesting, given what Sealink were trying elsewhere. You only have to look at the photos of some of their cross-Channel stuff to see how avantgarde they could be, with the space-age fittings on the Vortigern or St Edmund, or the specially-commissioned Franta Belsky murals on Hengist/Horsa/Senlac (presumably all destroyed along with those ships themselves), or even the modernist interiors of the St Anselm and her sisters. I can't imagine for a minute that the humble shuttle service that the C-class was built for merited anything on this scale, but I've heard they certainly had some very bold colour schemes inside in their early careers. Interestingly Wightlink do appear to have rediscovered some mojo on the refitted St Clare recently, with some rather interesting furniture and colour schemes which are really quite bold and nicely designed. It certainly takes your mind off of the rest of that wretched ship, as your cup of coffee vibrates itself off of the table into your lap! I have not managed to get on the VoW yet but I hope it is similar in style.
  14. Cuthred was long gone before I was taking any notice too (I was four when Cecilia replaced her and may have travelled on her, but certainly wouldn't have been able to differentiate between her and the other Cs), so can't recall her layout. I do seem to remember reading that the stairs were in a very different position to her later sisters to account for the lifeboat well, a requirement that had presumably been dropped in favour of inflatable rafts between 1969 and 1973. I would never have predicted in a million years either that the most flawed C-class outlived her more thoroughly engineered younger sisters, certainly not by ten years and counting! Having said that, I would bet that Caedmon, Cenwulf and Cenred all clocked up much higher mileages than Cuthred has, and in a more arduous environment too, so perhaps it's no surprise... It's a pity she wouldn't fit up the River Lea to my house, would be very handy to take more than one car to the IOW with the added bonus of avoiding the M25!
  15. Great news that Cecilia's plate was returned, I sadly have to say I wasn't expecting that. Good to see the photo of St Helen's builders plate too...I was looking for it inside, I didn't realise that was it outside! That's like the Robb Caledon builders plates on the C-Class, mounted high up inside the car deck above the Mezzanine deck. Now I know what I'm looking for I can see it's clearly visible on most external photos of both St Catherine and St Helen. Interesting that despite being identical sisters built at the same yard in the same year, St Catherine's one was mounted on a lower part of the superstructure compared with St Helen's. Perhaps someone had borrowed the long ladder that day... So we have the GB Conte, Anna Mur and Nando Murrau, though the old names will live on as they are embossed onto the hulls. I was told as a kid that sailors considered it bad luck to rename a ship, but certainly with ferries in particular it seems a very common thing!
  16. Good grief. Some people really are disrespectful, sadly I can't say I'm surprised. It's not even like the ship is being scrapped so it was fair game, and even if she was, the plaque belongs to someone else anyway. I really hope they get it back but the sort of person who would cheerfully steal it is going to be the sort of person who would feel no guilt about it either. Here's a pic of St Faith's one I took, I never got a chance to take a pic of St Catherine's or St Helen's one...
  17. Sad to see her go, almost certainly the Saint that I've crossed on the most over the last 30 years - and I still think she's more useful than one of the W-classes, but there you go. At least she's going for further service with her sisters... I suppose Faith will end up there ultimately, but with Wightlink modifying her for the new mooring system it suggests she'll remain for a few years yet.
  18. Pigeonrat

    St Anton

    As far as I was aware it was built at around the same time as St Faith in order to allow the four Saints to use the slipways - the only remaining ships that could do so unmodified were the C-Class, which therefore provided a backup in case the linkspans couldn't be used. The plan in 1990-ish was that the C's would be replaced shortly hence the St Anton was built to cover, but in the event the C's got a renovation and life extension in about 1993 and stayed for another fifteen years. I presume the St Anton got used a few times over this period but certainly the C-Class, particularly Cenwulf, was used on Portsmouth to Fishbourne overnight on the old slipway occasionally when the linkspan was out of action.
  19. Pigeonrat

    St Anton

    Blimey, are they still using that? I just assumed that was only compatible with the original Saints, I didn't realise the W-class could use it as well. Wonder if it fits the Vow too...
  20. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    Yes indeed, we call it "the coffin" and I can't say it's my first choice as it seems to take forever to be lowered down to drive off, I think Wightlink refer to it more politely as the "garage deck". But it knackers the lounge layout in exchange for maybe ten cars extra over the C-class? A dozen at most? One wonders if it was always intended or a last-ditch addition once it was realised the car capacity as it stood would be no greater. I thought the Lymington Harbour lot made far too much fuss about the W-class coming in, but by making them look so huge for so little gain, I think WL did inadvertently stoke the flames a bit...
  21. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    I must confess, I find the W-class a rather odd design. They look massive but inside they just aren't, unlike St Clare which is as big inside as it looks. I was a regular user when they came in and they absolutely dwarfed the C-Class, you had to see them side by side to believe it. But once I went on board for the first time (I seem to recall Wight Light was the first into service), I couldn't for the life of me work out what that massive superstructure (and all the downsides with weather and appearance that brings) was being used for...indeed, alternating between the Light and the Cenwulf/Cenred - think Caedmon had already been put down by that point - during the transition period it seemed they both offered a very similar amount of space for both cars and people. Arguably the lounges on the W are slightly bigger in terms of square feet but they don't really feel it due to the layout. Not a *bad* design really...just very odd and not very efficient packaging inside in my view. Comparing a W-class to a C-class was like comparing a BMW Mini to an Issigonis original! Back on topic, has anyone got a leaving date for St Cecilia? Would be nice to travel on her one last time, I think she was the first Saint I went on back in about 1989 (yellow seats on the outer deck so I think it was her that had that).
  22. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    Both Cecilia and the Sun then. Seems short-sighted, but it seems to be the way things are going. The flexibility of the half hour services are one of the things keeping me at Wightlink so if they go it's one more reason to decamp to Red Funnel I guess.
  23. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    So if they are investing money (even a small amount) into Faith, it suggests she is staying on for probably three years at least. So where does this leave St Cecilia, now the oldest ship on the Solent routes and with noises being made about her departure? It makes very little sense to me to keep a W-class at Portsmouth - let's be honest, they are ill-suited to the eastern route, struggle in bad weather in my experience and if the recent problems with the Sky are anything to go by there is a definite question mark over their design and/or build as they get older I would think. Clare isn't too good in bad weather either, VoW I don't know about but even if she was a heavy weather champion that would still leave the service in the hands of just her and Faith whenever it gets a bit blowy. Mechanical problems are a whole other can of worms in terms of covering the service too. The W-class are new enough to still have a high-ish value, it would make sense to me to sell one of those and keep a four-boat service at Portsmouth consisting of VoW, Clare, Faith and Cecilia in descending order of usage - potentially still allowing a 2-boat (or 3-boat service if VoW proves capable) in bad weather, plus more flexible cover for breakdowns. An order for a sister to VoW could go in at some point, and when that arrives (assuming good weather abilities) Cecilia and Faith could retire and leave the service in the hands of the three big boats. I confess I don't have any insider info on the overall condition of Cecilia, but having travelled extensively on both the remaining original Saints in recent years Cecilia gives the impression of being in better nick than Faith, as well as having a better reliability record. If Faith apparently has a few years of Portsmouth service left in her, I would imagine Cecilia does too, and she is certainly more capable and flexible than the Wight Sun. Against that I would guess her crewing and maintenance costs are higher than a W-class (depending on how many engines the Ws get through!) but even so it still makes more sense to me. From what I've seen I don't think this is the solution Wightlink will take though unfortunately.
  24. 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...)
  25. 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...
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