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Everything posted by Pigeonrat

  1. 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 🤔
  2. 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 ;-)
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 ;-)
  9. 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...
  10. 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!
  11. 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?
  12. 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...
  13. 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?
  14. 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 ;-)
  15. 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...
  16. 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...
  17. Did I hear that Hovertravel were considering running to Sandown at some point, or is that just rumour (and a spot of wishful thinking)...
  18. 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...
  19. 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...
  20. Oh, fair enough. Why would the mezz decks never be used again though? Surely the broken one is fixable, and given that it was a freak accident surely the other deck is business as usual? Certainly the other Saints - presumably the same design - are still in use...
  21. That's true, but I think 80 is a bit pessimistic. They do stagger the cars on the Saints now but I don't think it affects the capacity to that extent, unlike on the C-class where a whole lane was lost on both decks if I remember right. I would suggest the space on the Saints is more organised than on the W-class too, which seem to have a fair bit of wasted deck space...
  22. Well, quite. If you're going to have a barney with the LRA you might as well do it in style, and get Clare stuck in the Lymington river! Joking aside, leaving Lym-Yar alone would have saved them all that money in legal costs too!
  23. Right, let's see if I've got this, as I feel a need to vent my spleen... 1973; Caedmon joins the fleet at Portsmouth. 1983; The fleet at Portsmouth can no longer cope, so St Catherine/St Helen arrive. Caedmon is sent west to Lymington, being directly replaced by Helen. At that time she has a capacity of 76 cars, whereas Helen can take double this number. 2009; Caedmon is finally scrapped and replaced by Wight Light. By modern standards she could only take 48 cars, whereas the W-class can take 65. 2015; Helen is retired...and replaced with, say, Wight Light. Her 65 cars is less than Caedmon's 76 were in 1983, when the latter was deemed too small for the route. Despite this, and despite the massive increase in traffic, the W-class is considered a suitable replacement for a ship rwice her size, which in turn replaced a ship which STILL could carry more cars by the standards of the day! I despair at Wightlink lately. I'm a frequent user of all three of their services and am probably an ideal customer - I travel frequently but live on the mainland, so am not eligible for Multilink discounts. I book online, always take the car, turn up promptly, always buy an overpriced Costa Coffee, and only expect them to accomodate my small Astra, which can be fitted anywhere. I'm also quite unlikely to defect, as living in London I find that Southampton has neither the convenience of Portsmouth and the A3, nor the attractiveness of Lymington and that crossing. Yet even I am starting to get frustrated. Lymington to Yarmouth used to be a fast, efficient half-hour service when operated by the C-class. It's now getting worse and worse and this latest downgrade will probably finish it off. Portsmouth to Ryde is also becoming a nuisance. The Ryders' open decks are pleasant, but the simple fact of the matter is it's supposed to be a high-speed service, and it just doesn't seem to be now. The waterjets were quicker, and as I recall Pam/Pat were faster still. I much prefer Hovertravel and use their service more often now, which is still very much an express, but it's of limited use if I'm meeting someone at Gunwharf Quays. Although the cost is negligible (assuming they still charge), I also object to paying to drive up Ryde Pier when I am also parking at the top at some expense anyway! Portsmouth to Fishbourne - even that is slower, although I suspect this has as much to do with the underpowered and unwieldy Clare being unable to maintain the older Saints' speed as it does running costs. As many have commented, the standard of maintenance is clearly minimal and loading/unloading too slow, particularly in the case of the Clare. The older Saints are ideal for the route but are old ships and, like cars, need MORE maintenance to continue as they did in their prime, not less. The troublesome Clare is much newer but seems pretty unreliable and, being the biggest unit by far, causes the most issues. Personally, I think Wightlink upgraded the wrong route. They should have spent their money on the eastern link back in 2008, rather than throwing away the "premier service" they managed to build up in the 80s and 90s. Two new ships there instead of the W-class to run alongside the Clare, and keep the Faith (pardon the pun) as backup. I know this would have meant the evergreen C-class carrying on for another ten years, and I know that (with the possible exception of Cenwulf) they were very tired, but they could surely have survived a bit longer in the same way the Saints are surviving now. Fishboune is the most important link, and perhaps they wouldn't have lost so much ground to RF if they'd done it this way round.
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