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Fishbourne to Portsmouth - The future??

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St Clare is at berths 20/21 in the Empress Dock, Southampton Eastern Docks, she was there all day Tuesday although I'm not sure when she arrived or for what reason, she wasn't there at 18.30 on Monday when I got off the Red Falcon so I can only assume she arrived early Tuesday as I saw her in the Empress Dock at 08.30 when I boarded the Red Falcon again.

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Does anyone know the rosters of the Wightlink ferries from Portsmouth to Fishbourne? Do the vessels do the same departures each day or does it vary? I hope to plan a trip and was wondering which ferry sailed when? Any help would be gratefully received.

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St Clare normally does odd hours from Portsmouth but comes off service during the week after unloading at 2045. St Cecilia has been doing the other hourly departure with St Faith running the half hour when only 3 vessels running. Wight Sun tends to be the odd half hour after St Clare when 4 vessels on.

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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...

Edited by Pigeonrat

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It has to say something about the design and build quality of the Saints that Delcomar is so willing to purchase them. British 1980s/1990s build quality! I hope that the other two also go to Sardinia, as it would be nice to have all four sisters back together again!

 

I get the impression based on the all-too-frequent delays due to mechanical issues that they are trying to essentially string the service along until this new ship arrives, spending the minimum on maintenance for the Saints as they plan to sell them off soon. Whilst this might be good from a short-term accounting point of view I think they risk damaging their reputation even further. As you say though, the staff do seem more cheery than a year or so ago so the company is clearly moving in the right direction.

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Staff seem to think the P-F service will be a stretched Clare, a new build and a W class. That's it so if both large vessels take proposed 200 cars each and W class 60 in a few years capacity will be 450, lower than in 2001. Only 3 vessels so suddenly a large vessel fails and "disaster". If they do not invest in 2 new vessels then I think Balfour are just going to be another McQuarie. Too many times has inadequate investment in transport led to problems down the line. Shanklin & Cuthred to name a couple most relevant. RF upgraded their vessels early in their life, Clare if stretched and upgraded will be past halfway in hers, so not great investment. Better to sell her and the remaining Saints to finance the 2nd large new build.

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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?

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My guess would be two new builds .double deck loading including the Clare stretching not required .use the third w class as a spare between the two ports to cover drydocking in winter .and in service in the summer

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It's not just what the staff are saying. It was a press release from Wightlink. Just one new ship plus modifications to St Clare.

 

http://content.yudu.com/A3nvnd/IFTF/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wightlink.c o.uk%2Fiow%2Finformation%2Finvesting-for-the-future%2F%3Futm_campaign%3Diftf

 

 

http://www.wightlink.co.uk/pressrelease/hundreds-people-take-part-wightlinks-investing-future-consultation/

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Your guess is not what the staff are saying. I would have thought 2 new builds otherwise long term misery.

 

I know several staff on the ferries and they only quess like we do as management would only tell them the minimum they need to know because if other companies find out their plans then they would act on them for there own interests .as a new operator is establishing themselves to the island at the moment things will change me thinks..

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In my many hours waiting for a ferry in Portsmouth over the last month anyone know why there was pile driving going on in the car park as it seemed a very busy time todo it

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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...

Edited by Pigeonrat

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Have you been on the bridge of the Clare to see what the view is like ?

 

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?

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No you can't see the prow, very nearly but not quite !, there are cameras for berthing, don't really need them for FB as you "drive from the wings, good for going round the corner in G/W, but the view is very good from the bridge, all around.

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