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K&F

Normandie adrift?

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Hello. This is my first post. My wife was on the Normandie on the night 28 Sept/morning 29th on the 2300 (French time) returning from one of her regular visits to mother-in-law in Côte d'Armour.

 

I have started following her boat on marinetraffic.com (AIS tracking site) just before she is due to dock. Yesterday I noticed that the Normandie appeared to be beam on to the wind, drifting for two hours about 12 nm north of Ouitrehem on the night of the 28th (see attached screen shot), one hour into the passage. Anyone out there have any idea why this might have been ? I know that the Normandie has had reliability issues (e.g. 12 April this year), or is it simply time for some R&R for the crew ? Of no real consequence but I am very curious. My wife was fast asleep and had no idea the boat had even stopped.

 

Any ideas gratefully received just to allay my curiosity. :confused: Thanks

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Regular occurrence with BF to make the night sailings longer so you don't arrive at an even more ridiculous time in the morning than scheduled.

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Understood. However this is usually done by steaming more slowly (12 knots). The Normandie was stonking along at 18 knots after the stop. Not a usual set of events for a night passage. But thanks for your reply.

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Out of Plymouth both ARM and PONT go just past the breakwater on an evening sailing, only a few miles out and stop for about an hour or two. This generally gives people a bit of calm when eating or preparing for sleep etc. They then fire up again about midnight and chug over at a steady slow. This seems to be routine and works fairly well as long as the conditions are not too adverse.

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OK. Thanks. Never seen it before (stopped 2 hours then flat out for the rest of the crossing). Last night's passage by Mont St M was a steady slow around 12 kn but it had been blowing old boots all day so might not have been good conditions for lying a-hull in the middle of the Baie. The wonders of AIS !!! I now have it on my own boat and it's nearly as good as radar in the fog.

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OK. Thanks. Never seen it before (stopped 2 hours then flat out for the rest of the crossing). Last night's passage by Mont St M was a steady slow around 12 kn but it had been blowing old boots all day so might not have been good conditions for lying a-hull in the middle of the Baie. The wonders of AIS !!! I now have it on my own boat and it's nearly as good as radar in the fog.

 

 

Yes I agree that is unusual, usually they would want to go at a more economic rate of knots! Perhaps something like unusual tide/naval movement/medical situation or poor conditions approaching were a factor?

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I did wonder. I guess we'll never know. I am sure an email to BF would not be replied to but I might try anyway. If I do get a response I'll post it here. Thanks everyone for replying to my first post as a newbie.

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Maybe it's to give the crew a break if it's doing so little and everyone is in bed, I know the crew need certain breaks by law.

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If you were going to choose a place to drift around for a couple of hours then that would be the most logical. You are well away from any shipping lanes, not blocking the entrance to Le Havre and protected from any strong winds and currents by the Cotentin peninsular. There was also this unexploded bomb dredged up in Portsmouth harbour, reported on the afternoon of the 29th in the press, but perhaps identified on sonar the previous night. This is pure speculation but perhaps they asked all shipping to keep clear of the area for a long as possible until they could identify what it was and bring it safely to the surface. Ed.

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Could AIS have had a wobble?

 

Doubt it. Have verified the data on BF's own wesite and another AIS monitoring service.

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If you were going to choose a place to drift around for a couple of hours then that would be the most logical. You are well away from any shipping lanes, not blocking the entrance to Le Havre and protected from any strong winds and currents by the Cotentin peninsular. There was also this unexploded bomb dredged up in Portsmouth harbour, reported on the afternoon of the 29th in the press, but perhaps identified on sonar the previous night. This is pure speculation but perhaps they asked all shipping to keep clear of the area for a long as possible until they could identify what it was and bring it safely to the surface. Ed.

 

I totally agree. Good place to heave-to for a while in reasonable conditions. Having sailed to St Vasst from Ouistrehem a few years past in a freshening offshore breeze (in the boat in my avatar) I know there ain't much shelter at that spot. As soon as one is a few miles off, the waves refract round the peninsula and batter us small boat sailors badly. The 'unexplored' (see Andy's post on the matter) bomb might well be the reason. No reply from BF to my enquiry yet.

Edited by K&F
Typo

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OK. Got a reply from BF who confirm the Normandie was hove to on this occasion. They say "... this is a regular occurrence on overnight sailings. The ship will regularly stop for one to two hours in order to save fuel and to ensure a period of quiet for those resting."

 

So now we know !

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Used to be routine - and on a clear starry night it can be magical hearing the water lapping on the hull and spotting the lamps on the boats setting pots off shore.

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OK. Got a reply from BF who confirm the Normandie was hove to on this occasion. They say "... this is a regular occurrence on overnight sailings. The ship will regularly stop for one to two hours in order to save fuel and to ensure a period of quiet for those resting."

 

So now we know !

 

I think we knew already to be fair.

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Remember being on Normandie in the late 90's when this happened. Crewman told me it was because the British border force didn't want to get up too early...Anyway I had a lovely night sleeping on deck under the stars on a sun lounger. Brilliant!

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Neilcvx - fair comment but as regular BF users for last 10 years this never happened before. That's why I was curious.

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Not wishing to preach to the converted, however Normandie and the Mont often trickle along the east Contentin Coast to shelter from a big sea (relatively of course) before opening her up to a faster speed to get the stabilisers working on the open channel dash. All in the effort to ensure a safe and pleasant crossing at the same time they do not arrive too early the next morning in Portsmouth. ie the speed in the 'bay' is adjusted to compensate for the speed required across the main channel.

 

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Yes, it's the effect of reduced speed on the effectiveness of stabilisers that is a key factor. On a millpond sea, you'll probably find them just pootling across the Channel at about 10-12 knots. That's the most fuel efficient. But when conditions are such that they need the stabilisers to function they need to make the Channel crossing faster which means finding somewhere sheltered to kill time. Happens on all the "short" routes overnight. On Portsmouth-Caen, sheltering in the Baie de Seine is perfect in SW through to SE conditions. From the NW, crossing over to the Isle of Wight is a good bet. NE winds are more problematic.

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In a NE wind the only real option would be to shelter just outside Le Have but that might cause problems for the other shipping in and out of the port. I have a recollection that somebody saw Normandie or MSM off the coast of Brighton last winter during a big storm either seeking shelter or because they were unable to get into PIP.

 

DFDS from Dieppe to Newhaven never stop like that in the night - as there is nowhere to do so I suppose - and instead just run straight across in the usual 4 hours. I've never taken that route in the night as it seems silly to pay for a cabin for so short a time. Ed

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Can anyone explain another mystery...travelling to Caen a few weeks ago (on Fri 16th September) we were just arriving at Ouistreham at the scheduled time and could see people at the quayside, when it was announced that we were unable to dock because of traffic problems - even though we could see no ships in the port or the vicinity. We then went out to sea again for quite some way before returning again to tie up, about 4 pm. It was very odd and passengers were mystified. People who had already gone down to the car deck were called back up and the bars and cafes were reopened. There were no problems at the second attempt and we got off quite quickly but it was very strange.

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Could be a few things. A rogue yacht? Something about to come out of the lock? Ultra low tide? (Although if that why not just say so). Stronger cross-wind than they had planned for? Bow thruster wouldn't start?

Did you get all the way up the approach channel into the turning basin or was the approach aborted before entering the channel? Might hold some clues.

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It could have been some intrusion or suspected stowaway in a trailer that the police were dealing with and didn't want any vehicles moving around the port area while they resolved the problem. There have been a series of such problems in Cherbourg in recent months and the port area there is much bigger and difficult to control. Just an idea. Ed.

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