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Posts posted by Pigeonrat

  1. 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...

  2. 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!

  3. 13 hours ago, hhvferry said:

    A couple of pictures of the Cuthred as built. 

    This is the lower lounge. Shipbuilding & Shipping Record commented that, "here it is possible that a claustrophobic effect could be obtained. There are no openings and considerable areas of anti-graffiti design plastic facings tend to give a restrictive feeling. The framed pictures on one bulkhead are rather inadequate to relieve the monotony". (They also assessed Cuthred as "not a handsome vessel" and that her builders accepted the order "at a price of £320,000 and... while non-committal as to whether a profit was made at this price, feel that the 'know-how' obtained made the project well worthwhile. They could certainly compete with a repeat ship providing the competition was realistic. This reflects considerable credit on a yard based at Lowestoft, an area which does not benefit from any concessions in UK selective employment tax".)


    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!!

  4. 11 hours ago, Techsnap said:

    @Pigeonrat Yes, the C-Class interiors sound interesting in their original configuration, apparently vinyl seats, different colours in each from other posts I've read on here. I only really remember these from the mid 90s on as I would have been too young to remember their pre Wightlink interiors. I found some images of Cenwulf's interior online which wasn't the colours that she went to the Esbjerg with http://www.faktaomfartyg.se/extra_bilder/cenwulf_1973_omb_1.htm

    I've never been in St Clare, usually if I go from Portsmouth it ends up being on one of the W-Class or St. Faith.

    @hhvferry Thanks for that, if you have any other images that would be very much appreciated 😊

    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?

  5. 1 hour ago, Khaines said:

    Did not Caedmon have bright orange seats in that lounge that was set fire to?  Did they all have the same colours in those lounges?

    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

    11 hours ago, hhvferry said:

    A snippet from Design magazine. I've got some B&W interior images of her somewhere when she was new which I'll dig out if anyone's interested.


    "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...

    • Like 1

  6. 12 hours ago, Techsnap said:

    It's a shame that there are no interior shots of Cuthred from before Setúbal. 

    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.

    • Like 2

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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...


  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. 27 minutes ago, bekkia said:

    The W class have the large superstructure because the Mezzanine deck lifts into the lounge space, hence why there is seemingly less passenger space.

    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...

  14. 1 hour ago, adicat said:

    Size wise even only 9 years they have a limited role and that's western route. One has had a real problem with fires. They have wind limitations. They are large for something taking 60 odd cars and seem a bit of a pain to load when on Portsmouth route. I would certainly be looking seriously at the western route and whether further investment is good or money flushed away. 

    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).

  15. 33 minutes ago, eagleeye said:

    There is only a 3 boat service on the the fishbourne route for the whole of next year.so I can guess which one is going soon

    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.

  16. 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.


  17. 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...)

  18. 1 hour ago, Techsnap said:

    Something which I've been meaning to ask for a while. Can the Mezz Decks be lowered as a whole so to speak on the Saints?

    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... 

    • Thanks 1

  19. 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:


  20. 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.

  21. 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...

    • Like 1

  22. 14 hours ago, LordDevereux said:

    I think some bad choices have been made investing in this ship - the advantage Wightlink has had over RF has been frequency of sailings which they will lose with bigger slower ships.

    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 🤔

  23. They would be better keeping both and flogging a W for loading times. Otherwise 4 different size and shape ferries. Bit of a start up company. not a well established one.


    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...

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