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Posts posted by Pigeonrat

  1. This is a question I've thought about before, when they got rid of Cecilia - what are Wightlink going to do as and when they decide to sell Faith? I've not yet been on the VoW on a windy day to see how she copes, I would hope better than the Clare or W-Class but I still wonder if the island could get cut off on a day like this.

    Are the Raptors still running today?

  2. Quite. The Fishbourne route thrived throughout the last century compared to Southampton mainly because of its speed and regularity, two things which have been on the decline since the mid-2000s.

    Touch wood I have only ever had one ferry cancelled on the Eastern route (ex-Fishbourne about 3 years back, apparently due to fog - whatever happened to radar? - but I went and sat in the pub for two hours and had an early meal), but I often get the late ferry as a rule. If, as in the case of that midnight one, it was cancelled, I'm not sure what I would do?

    If I was on the island I'd go back to my caravan for the night, fine. If I were on the mainland, I would probably demand a transfer to the next ferry from Lymington, and if that were not possible, I'd probably have to go back to London and try again next weekend. But many of their customers don't have those options and I find it amazing that WL (or anyone) can just arbitrarily remove that link and leave people stranded until the morning really. 

    Maybe they should be forced to do a deal with Premier Inn etc as a contingency. The threat of a large business expense would probably focus their attention on reducing cancellations!

  3. To be fair, I'm a regular user and generally Wightlink serve my needs perfectly well (although I use Portsmouth rather than Lymington now as the service and tonnage on the Western route is poor). I also prefer the A3 to the M3, so am likely to stick with WL where possible. But yes, if they keep cancelling sailings (and if I'm unlucky enough to get caught up in it more than a couple of times), they will undo the 30 years custom and goodwill I have had with them rather quickly I am afraid. Fingers crossed they sort things out soon.

  4. They really need to bin off the W-Class, they were crap when they were new and are falling apart already judging by all the issues they have had over the last few years. It's such a shame as with all the upheaval of replacing the C-Class after nearly 40 years good service, the opportunity was there for a genuine step forward (which Wightlink are quite capable of, as seen with the original Saints and most recently the VoW), and yet they've ended up with three expensive ships which seem unsatisfactory in pretty much every way.

    A shame, but I fear better ships will be a harder thing to implement than building another VoW for Portsmouth and just closing the western route altogether. I hope that doesn't happen...

  5. 5 hours ago, Techsnap said:

    They can do whatever they want though, they're a near monopoly.

    Yes, this is the problem. Both Wightlink and RF seem to be in a race to the bottom when it comes to customer service sadly, which is a shame as the VoW is a real step forwards. What I find odd is that both companies seem increasingly disinterested in providing a reliable and regular service to their customers. 

    The thing is, what to do? If one company really got their act together (in terms of service, price or both) the other would have to respond, but there seems little sign of this happening and the island's tourist industry in particular seems to be suffering. Really a third operator is needed to stir the pot a little, but where? PIP to Ryde? A lot of investment would be needed at the latter and I can't see anyone investing that sort of money. And where else would be available? Newtown (no chance), Fort Victoria perhaps, but these are on the wrong side of the island for most visitors anyway.

    Anyway, back on topic, 93% is poor really. The W-Class on the Eastern route must be part of the problem as they take an age to load given their small capacity, time which they appear to be too slow to make up on the crossing. And if you were Wightlink, would you "floor it" across the Solent to catch up given how fragile the W's seem to be mechanically?

    I still say they should have refurbished Cecilia and sold a W-Class instead as the former was far better suited to the route, but there you go.

  6. 10 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

    One of the 3 engines on St Faith is knackered, she can't run to service until it's been repaired. I've been told that the tug is there for standby purposes, St Faith can sail home on 2 engines but they are not taking any chances.

    What sort of general mechanical condition is Faith in, I wonder? I know she is the newest of the four, but as a regular traveller St Cecilia - some four years older, dating from 1986 - seemed more reliable and less prone to vibration right until the end. As far as I was aware Cecilia was the "highest-mileage" of all four of the Saints as well, surprisingly.

  7. 1 hour ago, TonyMWeaver said:

    'Wight Sun' is en route to Portsmouth as cover for 'Victoria of Wight', 'St Faith' might make her dry dock slot in Dunkerque after all.

    Poor old Wightlink, that's like Thomas the Tank with Annie and Clarabel trying to cover for a Eurostar!

    Good luck to them, but I can't help but think Faith might make a better job of covering it, even minus a mezz deck.

    • Haha 1
  8. Definitely good news. However, as you say, it used to be 30 minutes, which was excellent and very convenient. I remember it only in the days of the C-class however, as far as I was aware the W-class have never run a 30 minute interval. I might be wrong...are they even quick enough to run the old 30min service or is it just too uneconomical? 

  9. 2 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

    I actually quite like that! Continues the tradition of the model of Cenred too. I don't find the VoW especially offensive aesthetically, I think she looks better than the jumboised Raptors and certainly better than the Clare or the W-Class (which can't even manage a funnel...)

    As I feared though, it seems the service may be being reduced further because of the VoW. The other week the 9pm sailing was packed, as well it might be given that there wasn't another until midnight. Three hours between sailings of an evening, really?? Thank God I didn't get stuck in traffic!

  10. Yes, that was back in the 1990s when you could turn up and just do it over the counter as you say, you certainly couldn't get away with it nowadays! I think they were well aware of what was happening, I didn't do it as often as some others I knew as I preferred to book a specific time in advance - but on one occasion I took a late evening sailing from Lymington and for whatever reason the period return was far more expensive than usual. No reason for this was given so I seem to recall buying the day return for 10.30pm or something outbound and back on the 11.30, so officially half an hour on the island! The booking clerk was surely well aware of the situation as she found it most amusing, but to her credit she said she hoped I enjoyed my short break on the IOW! :)

    • Haha 1
  11. Yes, Lymington definitely used to be half an hour on the C-class, I think they were somewhat easier and more manoeuvrable on the river!

    I vaguely remember the vouchers, but the other good one was to buy a day return special for twenty quid or whatever, and "forget" to make the return journey! Then do the same on the way back a few weeks later...it was cheaper than a period return I think...

  12. 1 hour ago, Hermit said:


    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. 

    Fair enough - I cheerfully stand corrected, I've only used the Wight Riders about half a dozen times so perhaps that's my mistake. I was just sure that they took comfortably over 20mins to do the crossing whereas the Tasmanian cats and the waterjets managed to get the crossing under 20mins, perhaps I am mis-remembering. Or perhaps they felt like they had greater acceleration than the current ones so felt faster!

    I do agree they are the smoothest-riding of the cats and the upper deck is nice, certainly.

  13. I can't say I disagree. I was a regular on the western route in the days of the C-class but after about a year of the W-Class being in service I switched to Portsmouth-Fishbourne and have rarely gone back. Even before the latest issues the Lymington service was becoming quite poor, with a limited timetable and slow unreliable ferries with "basic" accomodation, to be polite.

    The most frustrating thing about the W-Class (seemingly shared by several islanders I talk to) is they seem to have pleased nobody...the customer is disappointed in their reliability, speed and accomodation, the harbour users of Lymington (and possibly Yarmouth, I don't know anyone living there) are irritated by their dominating size, and Wightlink must be frustrated at their unreliability, poor weather performance and design issues. If Wight Light is out of use long-term at a mere ten years old, that really doesn't bode well. Perhaps it is even being cannibalised for parts for all we know. New tonnage seems highly unlikely given the current ships are not old, especially given the problematic introduction last time round.

    I don't know what to make of Wightlink at the moment. The VoW is an excellent ship which I enjoy travelling on, and to be fair the Fishbourne route isn't bad all told. But the new cat service is much slower than it was (or should be) and the Western route seems to be imploding. It just strikes me that there were some very poor decisions taken in the late 2000s sadly.

  14. 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 :)

  15. 6 minutes ago, Paully said:

    Surely it must be easier to go via Red Funnel and Southampton??

    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!

  16. 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...

  17. 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!

  18. 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...

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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