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Pigeonrat

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Everything posted by Pigeonrat

  1. Quite, I was due to return to the mainland on the 17.30 today. Fair play to Wightlink, they sent me a text about midday apologising for the delay and rebooking me on the 19.00, even reminding me I may be entitled to compensation (not that I'd bother TBH). As it happens there was no point getting home that late so I just amended it to tomorrow early evening, no charge and I get another day on the Island. Was not at all surprised to see it was the Clare that broke down, it usually is. They should scrap the bloody thing (mind you, I've been saying that since 2001 LOL) and build another VoW. Perhaps they could speak to Delcomar and charter one of those nice Saint ships to cover them in the meantime
  2. Depends really. I'm on the Essex/London borders with a static caravan at Whitecliff Bay, so it's about the same to take the anticlockwise M25 to the M3 as it is the clockwise M25 to the A3. But the A3 is the better road in my view, the M275 quicker than the M27/M271, and Fishbourne more convenient for me than East Cowes. Plus my park offers reduced ferry rates for holiday home owners, but only via Wightlink. I have to say that Red Funnel have their own issues too. Whilst P-F is not as quick as it used to be (and nor are Wightlink's other two routes either), that run down Southampton Water is a real drag, and the journey is 15-20mins longer than P-F and feels every bit of it. Seating used to be at a premium on Red Funnel and I presume it still is, given they have that Premium Lounge programme. I suppose if you were a rare visitor and it was still a novelty it wouldn't matter, but I just want to get across the Solent as quick as possible these days - I like a cruise on a sunny day, but on the usual Friday night the crossing is for the most part just another annoyance like the western quadrant of the M25 or the roundabout halfway down the A3. This is why my biggest irritation with Wightlink is the slower speed they seem to run at now, coupled with the less frequent sailings. Hell, I'd be up for taking the car from Southsea to Ryde on the Princess Anne if they were to offer it frankly!
  3. As stated above, I like the VoW and I congratulate Wightlink on getting the formula (mostly) right this time. But I do think they might have over-egged the pudding somewhat. It's all well and good building such a large and capacious ship, and presumably another will follow to replace Faith, but if the terminals cannot handle it, does it really help? Portsmouth has been double-decked, but the slow road access and tight entrance remains the same. Fishbourne is worse in this respect, and cannot be double-decked without the neighbours (rightly, to be fair) complaining. In the past, the company has purchased the adjoining properties to enlarge the terminal, but values are higher now, and in any case, Fishbourne Lane is now in itself a bit of a bottleneck. Personally I feel they should have never acquired the Clare - this was when the service started losing efficiency as there was never enough room for five ships on that crossing, especially when one is a unique design which is slow to load and too underpowered to make up that time. Perhaps a better idea would have been to forget the Clare and run the four original Saints until they could no longer cope, probably about 2010-ish by my guess, and bank the money to build four replacements for the Saints which were somewhere between them and the Clare in size. More efficient for the passenger in my view, but doubtless not as good a proposition for the accountants sadly. The trouble is, it's very easy to blame the bean counters. But if it were my business? Can any of us, hand on heart, say that if it were our personal businesses we wouldn't try to maximise profitability? I'd love to say I'd be philanthropic and run a more useful but less profitable service, but it is easy to say so when it's not my money on the line, and not my shareholders complaining bitterly...
  4. The sheer size of her does mean it takes a long time to load and unload I find. There is also the problem highlighted earlier in that the traffic queues at the Portsmouth terminal exit if they are unloading both decks, and also at Fishbourne where the traffic from each deck crosses over shortly after leaving the ship, followed by the slow joining of Fishbourne Lane, itself hardly a major road. Each deck having a direct connection to a) an extended M275 and b) a Newport DC-style road at Fishbourne would solve it, heh heh!
  5. Probably wise. I always found the original Saints quite stable in bad weather compared to some, but they were never designed for the open seas! I know one of them had to seek emergency shelter at Dover once when coming back from refit, possibly during the 1987 hurricane, I forget now...
  6. Tomorrow then. Under her own power or being towed all the way to the Med I wonder?
  7. Crossed on the VoW last night at 11pm, ran on time with no queues, suppose they had caught up by that point. St Clare sitting at the layby berth in disgrace with all her lights switched off, Faith out at the pontoon but still powered up, no sign of one of the W-Class so not sure if one of those is in use yet. As said, mechanical issues - often a feature of St Clare in particular over the years in my experience - are going to cause Wightlink a lot more issues from now on. What - if anything - they do about it remains to be seen, although perhaps another VoW is in the pipeline. I suppose this would replace St Faith though, not the historically problematic Clare.
  8. 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.
  9. 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...
  10. 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!
  11. 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;
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. Pigeonrat

    St Faith

    Cheers, that's very helpful 🙂
  15. 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...
  16. 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!
  17. 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!!
  18. 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?
  19. 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...
  20. 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.
  21. 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!
  22. 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!
  23. 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...
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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