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Nick Hyde

RMS St Helena going to Alderney?

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The Alderney Chamber of Commerce is considering using the RMS St Helena for a passenger and freight service from the Alderney to the UK and Guernsey! Didn't see that one coming. Search BBC news for the story. Just also been reported as a feature story on BBC Radio Guernsey.

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Should such a service actually happen how will it affect the Channel Seaways service from Poole to Alderney with small conventional freighters? I presume this is still going but maybe it isn't so hence this proposal.

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She's a lovely vessel I tried to get a job on her when I was a lot younger but ended up being a normal postman instead , could be a great asset for whoever gets her.

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That's great. She has been up for sale for a few months now. It would be great to have a more regular ferry to Alderley. The ones from France are very infrequent but travelling via Guernsey would be a good solution. They can probably get her for a good price as her configuration of crane loaded freight and cabins is not a common design and it's difficult to see which other markets she could usefully serve. Ed.

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Her passenger capacity is too small but might be a good vessel for The Scillies.... Tho having seen her draft maybe not! They could probably increase the capacity if they removed some of the cabins?

I do remember seeing her in Shoreham 25+ years ago....

Edited by Skipcool3

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Should such a service actually happen how will it affect the Channel Seaways service from Poole to Alderney with small conventional freighters? I presume this is still going but maybe it isn't so hence this proposal.

 

Channel Seaways still in operation, Valiant due in Poole 23.00 this evening.

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They may want to keep the cabins and operate a service similiar to the Torbay Seaways with MV Devonioum. Last operated to Alderney in 1989 until BCIF bought the operation and closed the service down.

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I'm happy to contribute if the entire Daily Mail editorial team wish to go down and test the airport and confirm their 'sources'. Ed

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Good old "Daily hate" never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

I'm sure that they are working on a fix to thewindshear problem it can't be the only airport in the world to have such issues.

Edited by neilcvx

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Please can someone explain the logic of this. Don't get me wrong, she is a lovely ship that was built to service an island thousands of miles away. Turning to practicalities, it will not fit Guernsey as she is too deep at 6m.

 

I think Alderney need to concentrate on day trippers with a few cars, so my recommendation would be a 400 pax cat with a few cars 20/30, backing up the Condor service.

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Please can someone explain the logic of this. Don't get me wrong, she is a lovely ship that was built to service an island thousands of miles away. Turning to practicalities, it will not fit Guernsey as she is too deep at 6m.

 

I think Alderney need to concentrate on day trippers with a few cars, so my recommendation would be a 400 pax cat with a few cars 20/30, backing up the Condor service.

 

 

Firstly, I'm not sure they want day trippers with cars clogging up the island's roads. Parking is already limited in St Anne's and at the most popular bays and you can walk around the entire island in around 6 hours or so. I think they would rather encourage day trippers with bikes as the current ferries from France can only take a dozen or so on each trip.

 

Secondly, I can't see that they need a vessel with 400 seats (which would boost the island's population by 20% in one fell swoop). It's not like Sark where sea travel is the only option. If people want to fly they can, from the UK, Channel Islands or France (with maybe a stopover). I don't think the objective is to attract that many visitors but more to provide a reliable, regular service all year round to encourage inward investment and to keep the operations in-house. Therefore they are not dependant on a commercial operator who may get cold feet during the winter when passenger traffic dries up.

 

And thirdly, from memory there is no linkspan at Alderney via which to unload cars. The advantage of RMS St Helena is that all the freight is offloaded with cranes so a jetty will suffice. You said the draft of the vessel is 6 metres, but then I believe the Condor Goodwill is similar and the Clipper is not far off that. So she should be ok in St Peter Port. And maybe they were planning to run her from St Sampson as they don't need a linkspan (although I'm not sure how deep that harbour is). Ed

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I wasn't suggesting the car capacity for day trips. Foot pax day trips is exactly what they need after all there is limited accommodation on Alderney. Running the St Helena to Alderney will cost a lot, the minimum safe manning will be expensive.

 

No whilst Alderney does not have a linkspan, cats are available with both side and stern loading and it is not impossible to work it with a ramp in Alderney. There is efficiency with ro/ro that lo/lo does not have.

 

If they would run it through from UK/Alderney/Guernsey with a marketing agreement with Condor, it could open a whole new world.

 

Clipper has the deepest draught at 5.3 and St Helena is 6m which is too deep. It would not work at St Sampsons, there is no customs presence for pax and the States will not put one there

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Also St Sampsons is tidal so no regular ferry service from there would ever work. The States of Guernsey owned Jamesco oil tankers work from there but often sit on the bottom of the harbour when the tide goes out between journeys.

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OK northsaul2 now I understand what you were getting at with the fast cat idea. I misunderstood your original suggestion. However I'm not sure that's the route they want to go down. Being the only island with cars but without a vehicle ferry they are clearly not worried about bringing tourists over with their cars but equally I don't know if they want the day trippers either, over and above what they already have. There are a few hotels and quite a lot of B&Bs on the island and I think they would prefer people to stay over and spend money in the cafes and restaurants etc. They might also be targeting the camping market. I have a suspicion that they would not want a fast cat due to the current negative public perception of the vessels. They want something that won't be cancelled the moment summer passes to autumn. They want a reliable all weather vessel. The fact that it has cabins is a bonus as they can run overnight and let people sleep through the worst of the weather. Equally important is its freight capacity to reduce the dependence on the existing contractor. Any fast cat capable of getting into La Braye will be too small to have a worthwhile freight capacity and they really want containerised loads not fleets of small vans. On the draught issue they must be aware of the problem and would have checked that before making any announcement so I'm perplexed on that front. Nick, what is the available depth in St Samsons say two hours each side of high water? They may not be planning a regular service but can adapt their timetable to the tides. Also would they need customs staff there if the ferry was only running to and from Alderley and the UK and not the continent?

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Customs are not required only between Alderney and Guernsey. If a ferry went from the UK to Alderney, then St Sampsons, all passengers would be required to go through customs at Alderney.

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Customs are not required only between Alderney and Guernsey. If a ferry went from the UK to Alderney, then St Sampsons, all passengers would be required to go through customs at Alderney.

 

Thanks Roger, I thought that would be the case. And as Alderney seems to be the priority for this suggested service it would make sense for their customs officers to deal with all the passengers etc, including those in transit. Ed

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There is not enough business in Alderney to justify this ship running between UK and Alderney. It is day trippers they want. I think you will find that Alderney and Guernsey have seperate Customs areas, so clearance will be required in both island.

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But the problem I have is that if it is only day trippers they want, then why are they even expressing an interest in this ship? The definition of a day trip according to the Cambridge English dictionary is:

a visit to a place in which you go there and come back on the same day

 

Unless they plan to run those day trips from Cherbourg with its deep water port she will be too slow for them. If people have to pay for a cabin it no longer becomes a day trip and the costs rocket (particularly if you go overnight both ways). And if you listen to the Jersey and Guernsey radio reports on the idea the speaker says they plan to run from Southampton to Alderney via perhaps Cherbourg and back during daylight hours to avoid housekeeping costs for the cabins. So the only day trippers will be French and the UK passengers will be have to spend at least one night on the island. He also clearly says it is the reliability and freight opportunities the vessel presents that have generated their interest. He stresses that a decision is a long way off and to wait for further news. Ed

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All sounds a bit unrealistic to me. Have they forgotten it takes five hours to sail between Southampton and Cherbourg and this was so both in Townsend Thoresen and Stena Normandy days. I somehow doubt if a day trip Southampton-Cherbourg-Guernsey is at all practical. I would have thought the best ports for the CI are Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth or even Torbay. I don't know if St H would fit all these places. She certainly will the first two and I thought it was said she was too deep draughted for St Peter Port.

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I see it's Alderney in the CI they're aiming for not Guernsey but does that make much difference in point of distance? As I've indicated Channel Seaways already sail Poole-Alderney so presumably St H would be taking trade away from this service.

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