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Pigeonrat

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Everything posted by Pigeonrat

  1. 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?
  2. 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...
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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...
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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...
  10. 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...
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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...)
  15. 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...
  16. 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:
  17. 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.
  18. 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...
  19. 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 🤔
  20. 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 ;-)
  21. 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...
  22. 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...
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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