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Posts posted by Pigeonrat

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

  3. 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...

  4. 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...

  5. 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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