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The Ferry Man

CONDOR FERRIES: Condor Liberation

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Personally speaking, I doubt I would use the service if they switched from the fast ferries. I haven't used it to Jersey for years now (but have to Guernsey), since they stopped running non-stop to Jersey, the journey time is just not competitive with the alternative (flying). FlyBe fly to Jersey twice a day from Bournemouth now, for example. I find the prices of air fares vs ferry fares broadly similar except for day trips, where Condor are cheaper, but you now get less than 4 hours on Guernsey (or get the occasional 3am sailing, not very attractive!) so they are not so attractive to me now. I appreciate if you want to take a car over your views might be different (I always go as a foot passenger) but there are plenty of car hire options on the island.

 

It is sad to see what has happened to the service over the years. Go back 10 years, and there were direct non-stop services during the summer from the UK to Guernsey, Jersey and St Malo. Now you can't reach St Malo without changing in one of the islands and neither can you reach Jersey non stop. What we have now even compared with just a year ago is a slower (on average), less frequent, less reliable, less punctual service from fewer ports. It is not a great record.

 

I am not sure what is going to change really though if no other operator is interested in the service, as appears to be the case. If Condor decides to give up the route (or is forced to do so) it might be that the island Governments either have to subsidise it so they can interest another operator or look at operating it themselves. I note that Condor are stating in the Guernsey press today that they lose money on the passenger services between the UK and the islands. For how long that has been the case I don't know.

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Go back to conventional sailing overnight perhaps. Then day time from Islands to St Malo and back then night back to UK. Fast ferries may save time but do not have the public appeal so much and seem to struggle to make money with higher running costs. Not sure why Liberation getting so much stick, other ferries have entered service on routes and had teething issues and it was not her fault they double booked. Computer error of course.............(IT Dept fetch your coats)

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Not sure why Liberation getting so much stick, other ferries have entered service on routes and had teething issues and it was not her fault they double booked. Computer error of course.............(IT Dept fetch your coats)
She has been getting stick ever since Condor left Weymouth - clue there, that was before she even started. There is something very strange about it all, and there are a FEW disgruntled Weymouth bods bringing others into it all in my opinion, and have been whipping up hysteria ever since it was announced she was working from Poole. Some I reckon do not even travel on her. This all started long before she went into service so there has been some kind of vendetta going on in my opinion. Yes, I agree a lot of islanders have been inconvenienced by this, but there is a distinct kind of vendetta going on to me from a group of people with their own agenda, and they are the ones whipping up trouble.

 

I apologise for my rants, but the situation is no different to other ships and services that have had their problems - this just stands out as a bit different, and it all started before she entered service. Wonder how James would have handled all this out of interest..... Just so stupid, all of it, apologies again for my rants, but I reckon this has more to do with a few individuals.

 

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I think the Liberation will do OK, it's just that Condor are depending too much on her.If anything goes wrong there is little or no backup.What Adicat says about a conventional night ferry might be the solution.

 

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I agree but the repetitive problems that Condor's services are having must make the Island's authorities question if they are doing the right thing with only having Condor as there maritime link to the UK.

What is the solution...........

Edited by imprimerie

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I dunno - I'm on her next week, so am just hoping that weather stays fine, she behaves herself, and I have a decent day out. Last trip on her I went down with flu the night before travel and it rained all day. Just looking forward to,a good day - on Barf tomorrow, know it will be a great day out on her, let's hope her portmate obliges next week!!

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Perhaps the solution is too swap the the routes the craft operate on. Send Liberation to St Malo and the seemingly more reliable Rapide to cover what presumably is the more important market of UK/Poole - CI .

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A more detailed report from Tuesday 29th crossings - couple of days late!! Anyone on board seeing a woman with a purple hoodie pulled over her face - was me trying to shift a headache!!

 

Well, my very first experience of a fastcraft in rougher water!! Mixture of emotions really. Firstly, unfortunately I started the day with a headache hours before I was due to board - one that is still with me now incidentally!! And although I took painkillers they had no effect, I am blaming carbon monoxide/diesel fumes as I am very sensitive to those smells anyway, have been since a child, and can make me feel iffy for days. Buses can trigger it, sitting in a bus station or by the Quay and boat engines, loads of things, no one cause. Coffee withdrawal symptoms are quite similar and these have to be taken into consideration too, so cannot blame any one thing in particular, especially the vessel.

 

The walk round to the port over the old bridge was nice considering the fuss over taxis due to the maintenance last week. Checking in was very quick and efficient and I went into the Waves cafe for a tea as I was meeting with a support worker from Autism Wessex and we had our fortnightly chat and catch up. Customs and boarding was very quick and I headed straight up to the spacious top outside deck tolook at the scenery and spent a fair bit of time watching the wake after we moved off. Was trying to get photos of the Sea Discoverer, but the vibrations made that difficult so no good results obtained!! My headache was getting worse so I went to sit down. As we got right out to sea she started rolling quite a bit. Some people had difficulty standing and a few things went crashing. I was watching out the window and the scene was reminiscent of that infamous video that recently did the rounds, I was comparing what I was seeing out of the window to what I had watched and it was very similar, but I did not feel in danger, to me it was just one of those things and I was too busy trying to concentrate on a blinding headache than the sea going up and down outside the window. I felt her swaying and I was trying to work out if this is what all the fuss is about.

 

We docked in St Peter Port and after a walk off the ship via the ramp, which was very quick. headed off to the shops and the pub for some food. Wasn't able to drink anything alcoholic due to having taken painkillers so that was a bit miffing, so coffee it was, plus a lovely portion of chips in the Ship and Anchor, which is a lovely pub. Trip to M&S for a last minute load up before going back to board.

 

Back at the terminal I noticed how much rougher the sea looked and when the ship arrived I could see her swaying from side to side. I reckoned we were in for an 'interesting' crossing. It was, and much rougher than when we went out, and the captain had to tell everyone, including a special announcement for the crew, to sit down as things got pretty lively. One elderly lady fell over, I think, or something, and she seemed ok, the crew were very helpful and attentative. Heard a few things crashing about, and I think it was very difficult for people to stand. As said, the captain advised people to remain seated, and typical for me I needed a visit to the loo for a wee, but decided to stay put till we were a bit calmer, but had to give in, and yes it was very difficult trying to do what you need to do whether you are a lady or a gent in that department. Decided not to walk back to my allocated seat and sat in the first empty one near the loo for the rest of the journey!!

 

All in all I made a few observations about the crossings as I have never been on an HSC crossing in rough weather before and have often wondered what it was like. My own personal opinion is that, yes she rolled about, but not much different to what I experienced on the C Class in the Solent in gales, or Barfleur/Spirit of France in Dover during stormy weather. Liberation does roll, and basically what I observed was not much different to reading people's accounts of NEX when the sea is less than millpond. Although I found her rolling a hoot, others did not and I think at the end of the day it is down to how individuals cope, no two people are the same. I feel sorry for and respect those who did have a difficult time, but the crew were very attentive to those having problems. I just had a vile headache, which started before I even got on the ship in Poole and still have now.

 

All in all the Liberation is a fine vessel, I am trying to see it all from an open mind as so much negativity has been written about this ship, and as I hadn't been on her in rougher seas or any HSC in rough sea, I feel it is easier now to make comment and am in a position to say. During the crossings, I must admit a lot of my thoughts were of the is this what it is all about variety, but I could see people in true discomfort so have to balance my views out. I was personally enjoying her rolling, brought back memories of conventional ferries doing likewise!! Can see what people mean now a bit when people comment negatively on her rolling, but I think she is ok. Not dangerous or anything like that, no different to other ships!! I just wish I could travel without some kind of illness striking me before I set off!!

Edited by Khaines
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Ooooh, am getting excited now.

 

My best rough crossing was on the HSS from Dublin in December 2013, is was ace.

 

Photo's and videos on my motorhome blog - here if you want a read

 

Can't wait for my next run on the Lib, late October, so if one is not rough, I'll try again two days later!

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You won't be disappointed if you do get a choppy one!! I will admit I did feel a bit green on occasions, but that was to do with feeling iffy anyway. I overheard some other passengers grumbling when we arrived at Poole while we were waiting to disembark. My honest opinion is that I have read accounts about Normandie Express, the previous Condor vessels, and fastcraft in general in rough weather, and she pretty much matched those accounts. I would totally rubbish comments in the past she is dangerous, she isn't, that all seemed to be hyped up nonsense. She just behaved pretty much how you would expect a ship to behave in choppy seas opposed to how she would behave in calmer water. Fair nough. I heard stuff go crashing, but so stuff went crashng around on Barfleur on one occasion when I travelled on her as Deal Seaways, she behaved totally differently, couldn't stand up on her wihout holdng on to something, she seemed a different ship altogether in the Eastern Channel. And the Liberation has not trumped Wightlink's Caedmon on a well remembered Lymington - Yarmouth crossing circa storms around early 90's.

Edited by Khaines

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Khaines, I enjoyed reading your report. Very interesting. What I will find very interesting is when we find out whether the Liberation gets her wave height limit upped by MCA following tests done recently or soon to be done. In the Guernsey Press this week, Condor Freight director was also talking about the £100 million or so investment needed to replace the Rapide, Clipper and Goodwill in the next few years. I wonder what the Clipper will be replaced with...all depends on whether Liberation can sail in greater wave heights and the need for back up ro pax is needed less.

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I think they need multipurpose ships all round. For BF in Poole we had at one time, Cotentin for freight, Condor Express seasonal for passengers and Barfleur for both. When a dual purpous like Barf is all that is needed. Liberation can take freight unlike the cats, and from what I read somewhere, the more freight she has the lower in the water she'll sit, therefore making a more comfortable ride. And in the coming winter months where she is concerned, they might think about loading her with more freight. This might alleviate some of her rolling. I would say replace the Goodwill and Clipper with one ship and share out the freight with Liberation so she gets to carry more. Rapide, just needs another HSC on that route, maybe an Austal cat? My opinions anyway!!

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Given the current reputation of the vessel I suspect that anyone aboard who overtly delights in the rough sea experience might suddenly find themselves overboard!

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To add to my report, as forgotton to say, the only issue I have with the Liberation is when you disembark via the ramp, you are greeted with that very strong exhaust smell, that is very unpleasant, really stinks. Not noticeable in Poole at embarkation as we used the gangway, and besides, any residual smells from the exhausts would have disappated overnight so there should be clear air around her stern area!! Disembarking and re-embarking at Guernsey and at Poole later, the smell is extremely strong as obviously she has been operating.. This cannot be helped, and I suppose this occurs with a lot of fast craft if their exhausts are near the waterline as I guess hers is, unless they have funnels. So I am not sure if this is a quirk of hers or a normal fast craft thing. Just have to wear one of those white masks next time!! That is a really strong smell though.

Edited by Khaines

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