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Everything posted by Pigeonrat

  1. 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.
  2. 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...)
  3. 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...
  4. 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:
  5. 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.
  6. 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...
  7. 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 🤔
  8. 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 ;-)
  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

    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...
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 ;-)
  15. 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...
  16. 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!
  17. That was a rather tongue-in-cheek comment ;-) I have not, but if her side profile and views from the two outer decks (the two that can still be accessed) are anything to go by, I wouldn't have thought a clear view of the prow would be possible. I'm guessing CCTV, would that be correct?
  18. Having had a chance to read Wightlink's publication above properly (and laugh at the random, unconnected-to-anything pictures that all these things have to have these days, like cheese and potato slices and cheerful canoeists who have not yet been run over by St Clare and her blind bridge), and also to wonder if the family have been posed by a rusty part of a Saint's railing deliberately, there's a few points of interest... To quote, it says "We will run our new ship and St Clare on the hour. We will then have the flexibility to run sailings on the half hour with our smaller ships." Note the plural; is it... 1) A stay of execution/refurbishment of the Saints? 2) A second, smaller new build? 3) Close Lym - Yar, sell one W, transfer the other to join the Sun? 4) An error :-) Also, it states a capacity of 178 cars, not 200. There is no mention of stretching the Clare, but it would seem she will get Raptor-style extensions to the upper car decks. This will do nothing for her appearance, not that it really matters, she's not the best anyway. A ramp at Fishbourne...but also adapting the slipway for emergency use, and presumably considereble dredging. Fishbourne will love that, I'm sure! All interesting stuff. Also like this statement, "...St Cecilia, which came into service in 1986, and her sister ship St Faith (1989). Being considerably older, St Faith and St Cecilia are more prone to mechanical problems than the rest of our fleet." Aside from getting the dates of their ships wrong, I would suggest Cecilia's historically more reliable than Clare, though not so sure about Faith. Either way, maintaining the bloody things properly would make far more of a difference than this statement implies...
  19. Oh dear. Yes, I was expecting a newbuild, Clare plus the two remaining Saints to start with, and ultimately when the Saints were pensioned off, another newbuild. I certainly wasn't expecting a W-class to be a permanent feature! When was the last time they had only three boats, was it '83 to '89? Better hope the newbuild is more reliable than the Clare, anyway... On the subject of the Clare, the proposal to stretch is interesting. She'll be at least 15 years old if/when it happens, seems like an odd choice since none of the Raptors were even ten years old when they were done as I recall. I'm sure the double-deck loading will help her loading times, but I wonder if stretching will be better or worse for her performance and bad-weather abilities?
  20. I feel a need to defend Wightlink a bit. I use Ports-Fish regularly and there has been a definite improvement over the last 6 months, if anyone who works for them reads this forum I say you're doing well. I was booked on the 2pm yesterday but thanks to the horrendous M25 missed the boat...last time this happened a few years ago the guy on the gate snorted and said "No chance mate" when asked if I could get the next one, which is hardly good customer service (though I cheerfully admit that being late is my problem, not theirs). A wait in the terminal for some spare space followed, and I was dreading a repeat. This time however, the cheerful gate guy commiserated with me on the traffic and promised to "get you away as soon as we can", which turned out to be the 2.30pm. This (St Faith) was loaded quickly and left on the dot of 2.30, and made excellent time, arriving off of Wooton in under half an hour. We did have to wait for Cecilia to clear the terminal but it was only a small delay. The staff were cheerful and the ship clean, and I can say it was a perfectly good crossing. There's still room for improvement, of course. I really wish Wightlink would "get it" that first impressions count, and the scabby condition of Faith's outer decks is a real shame. If she were actually painted - properly! - she would otherwise be very presentable, toilets excepted, and remains far smoother than her newer fleetmate. Frankly I'd be half tempted to turn up with a can of Dulux and do it myself at this rate. As Sailorboy says, the Clare is what it is - I have tried to like her, but she is just a rubbish boat with poor design and (judging by the vibration) poor build as well. She has four years to go to outlive her equally flawed predecessor Cuthred and I'm sure she will, though probably not on merit. The Sun confuses me a little, as she really is too small, plus she doesn't fit the berth all that well. I've said before that I'm not sure why a C-class sized ship was deemed viable thirty years after Caedmon and Cuthred were replaced with larger ships. I personally think selling Helen so soon was frankly daft, and a knee-jerk response to the collapsed mezz deck and accusations of her being an old ship. It seems a very strange decision and she was more effective on this route than the Sun is, elderly or not. Perhaps Delcomar insisted they needed her soon as possible or the deal's off... However, above criticisms not withstanding, Wightlink are doing far better these days. I hope they keep the momentum up. Oh, and just paint the damn Saints, seriously ;-)
  21. That's a pity. Sandown could do with a shot in the arm and making its lovely beach instantly accessable from the mainland for day trips would have really helped the place. And I'd have had a good view from Whitecliff Bay as it went past! Ah well...
  22. Pigeonrat

    St Helen

    Looks good (though I'm not crazy about the name, mind you Gb Conte isn't great either). I'm glad the Saints are getting a second lease of life and heading somewhere other than the Esbjerg "slipway of death", I wonder if they'll end up with all four at some point. I'm guessing the mezz deck hasn't - and won't - be replaced. Has anyone had a chance to travel on Catherine over in Italy yet? Some pics would be great...
  23. Did I hear that Hovertravel were considering running to Sandown at some point, or is that just rumour (and a spot of wishful thinking)...
  24. Have just returned from a weekend on the IOW, having sailed outbound on Cecilia and inbound on Faith. The last few journeys I've made have all been on the St Clare so this was a nice change...and I have to say, I forgot how much I like the original Saints. There's something about them that just seems to serve their purpose exceptionally well, and they give an impression - even after all these years - of being very well built. No rattling ceiling panels or vibrating staircases here, both of which the Clare has suffered with from day one in my experience, and they provide a more comfortable ride in bad weather than the newer ships by far, W-class included. The toilets are pretty tired and the relentless tide of fat SUVs which didn't exist in 1983 (or 1990 for that matter) has dented their capacity and profitability, but nonetheless they remain excellent designs, made well. I'll miss them when they go, as they undoubtedly will in a few years, probably to be replaced with something more compromised. Wightlink do seem to be making a little more effort lately. The ships still need a good blast and paint, but the car decks seem to look better, the lounges are clean and tidy and the staff seem more cheerful (and there's now a "greeter" at the top of the stairs!) Clare had a facelift inside recently which looks nice, and the furniture in the main lounge is almost funky...the same can't be said for the idiotic sofas in Clare's top lounge, which are possibly the most uncomfortable things ever, and tend to tip backwards if you're not careful. The older Saints still have the original layout, which is uninspiring but comfy and efficient at least. I see that St Cecilia now has a little walk-in shop for food etc, and I'm sure she never used to have. St Faith still has the basic snack counter, which sadly suggests her future may be limited, unless Balfour Beatty upgrade her also shortly. I was also pleased to spot a little tapestry framed on her central casing, showing her in Sealink livery with the tag "MV St Faith, 1990". It was rather good and I'm pleased that it's survived, as I've never noticed it before. I shall have to have a look to see if St Cecilia has something similar...
  25. Interesting...the more you know, eh? I had noticed one or two differences between the early pair and the late pair, eg. the doors onto the open deck etc. But fundamentally I thought all four were identical. Yes, I can see why the other deck going bang would probably not go down well under those circumstances. I'll have to see if I can get on the Helen before she goes and try a bit of spot-the-difference. One thing I think we can agree on though, the lounges in the W-class are less spacious, I find them pretty busy even on the western link. Ta for the information :-) Of course, if Catherine did have her mezz decks removed before she went to Italy, you have to ask why - were Wightlink already "unsure" about them before Helen's failure? I wonder...
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