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Barfleur Cancellations

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We were due to sail to Cherbourg from Poole on October 12th. and had knowledge that a southerly gale was forecast 4 days before. I thus checked the online sailing information regularly and up to under an hour before last check-in time and leaving home. The information remained unchanged "all services are operating to schedule" so we were more than a little surprised om arriving at Poole Ferry Terminal that both that day's and the next day's voyages were cancelled due to bad weather. We had to reject the offer of a voyage from Portsmouth to Caen as arrival in France was too late to be able to meet our hotel check-in availability. We gave up on making our first journey for 18 months and noticed the BF web-site was not changed to reflect the cancellations until more than 2 hours after scheduled sailing time. My already diminished enthusiasm for Brittany Ferries was further dented when the response to my formal complaint made no reference to the inaccuracy of the web-site sailing information page.

I have since monitored both Barfleur's departures and the web-site information and now notice that Barfleur voyages seem to be cancelled at the first hint of bad weather. Having had at least one crossing in Force 9 conditions in the past and noticing that Barfleur used to only not depart when she was unable to physically get off the Poole berth (even with assistance for Poole's pathetic tug), I am left wondering what has changed to make this route so unreliable. Making a reservation for the Poole - Cherbourg route has turned into a lottery, anyone like to tell me why?

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Well, we have Armorique for a few days nex week, I am on her Sunday, not sure what the weather is like for the few days or so next week she is here.  

Regarding our friend, she was cancelled back in the year due to industrial action in France, I turned up at the port to discover she was still in Cherbourg.  Thought it rather odd as I was walking along the quay after buying my papers to walk to the terminal and she was not in her berth and I could not see hide nor hair of her anywhere in the harbour on her way in.  I found out at the check in.  But then in those circumstances I had not checked the sailing information anyway, and due to the late night strike action called in France there wasn’t much time for BF to update the system.  

No idea why she is being cancelled due to the weather so often.  

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Well they have cancelled Armorique’s Sunday sailing from Poole - so it isn’t only Barfleur.  I was booked on that crossing.  Luckily I found out via a Facebook group, so rang up and organised a refund.  Blessing in disguise I suppose because the weather is pretty unpleasant with all this wind and rain.  I am quite content to have a normal Sunday.

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Adds weight to my suspicion of cancellations being loading-related then.  (Something that BA14 has not refuted).

I was going to say that Armorique doesn’t have the same bow thruster power deficiency as Barfleur.  But then I remember the discussion we had about beething in Plymouth in strong winds, and in that discussion I remember wondering whether her post-scrubber profile might have left her with more stern windage than her power units were designed for.  So maybe that creates an issue for Armorique at Poole too.

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I was wondering if Barfleur was having work done on her thrusters while she is away for maintenance.  Wonder if this maintenance involves work in this department.   

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16 hours ago, Khaines said:

I was wondering if Barfleur was having work done on her thrusters while she is away for maintenance.  Wonder if this maintenance involves work in this department.   

From what I have read in the past on this forum, Barfleur's problem getting off the berth in Poole in strong starboard beam winds is due to the high windage of her funnels, which are very far aft. I too have always thought the bow-thruster was too weak and have heard shrieking bridge alarms going on during radio communications when she has been struggling to depart. I think her problems may have increased as a result of Condor having a larger fast craft vessel often in the other Ro-ro berth just off Barfleur's port bow, it is likely to increase the amount of clearance Barfleur needs to create. I would also suspect that the addition of scrubbers have increased her aft windage even more. In combination with the feeble Poole tug "Herbert Ballam" Barfleur doesn't really seem "fit for purpose" to operate from Poole's Ro-ro berths, although conversely one could argue that Poole port isn't suitable for reliable ferry operations. I do suspect that on the occasion of our voyage cancellation the load factor was going to be low, assisting BF in the cancellation decision. A voyage she did make a week or so later only reported 121 passengers onboard, which, if that included truck drivers, would be an abysmal load factor but have plenty of scope to relieve pressure on Dover & Calais in the scenario now being advertised for a "no deal Brexit"!

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You can tell it's approaching winter, the Barfy has no power and two useless bow thrusters posts have started again... Any more BF conspiracies against Poole notions out there too?

She's the same as Normandie, her 4 main engines also power the twin bow thruster alternators.

Just out of curiosity, is the chain link ferry back yet? She's been delayed in Falmouth due to the weather.

 

Edited by jonno

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56 minutes ago, jonno said:

You can tell it's approaching winter, the Barfy has no power and two useless bow thrusters posts have started again... Any more BF conspiracies against Poole notions out there too?

She's the same as Normandie, her 4 main engines also power the twin bow thruster alternators.

Just out of curiosity, is the chain link ferry back yet? She's been delayed in Falmouth due to the weather.

 

Chain ferry isn’t back yet, they are waiting for a window of good weather to tow her home.  Bit of a bogger as I would have liked to have got onto the Studland side to take photos of Armorique while she is here.  I highly doubt that will be possible as evn when the chwin ferry does come back, she is having work done before she goes back into service. And as Arm is only with us a few days that seems very unlikely.

Libby is still down there too, i believe, she is there toll mid December if I remember someone saying correctly. 

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On ‎08‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 15:10, jonno said:

You can tell it's approaching winter, the Barfy has no power and two useless bow thrusters posts have started again... Any more BF conspiracies against Poole notions out there too?

She's the same as Normandie, her 4 main engines also power the twin bow thruster alternators.

Just out of curiosity, is the chain link ferry back yet? She's been delayed in Falmouth due to the weather.

 

What are you getting at? Where does my post starting this thread comment on "useless bow thrusters"? Do you think it is ok for a business to employ a ship, specifically designed for the route, to be inadequate enough to be unable to get off the quay at one of the only 2 ports she has to serve in weather conditions that aren't particularly unusual? Do you think inconveniencing customers with frequent cancellations when other vessels (some smaller) still voyage in the same part of the English Channel? In our case, October 12 is hardly winter. The size and number of main engines and generators is not directly proportional to bow thruster thrust, it is determined by the power of the bow thruster motor and efficiency of the propeller in the tunnel, assuming there is more than enough generator capacity for all the services running at the time. Specifications state that Barfleur has less generator capacity than Normandie so they aren't the same and surely you mean "power the...bow thruster motors", not "alternators"? 

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57 minutes ago, Slug said:

What are you getting at? Where does my post starting this thread comment on "useless bow thrusters"? Do you think it is ok for a business to employ a ship, specifically designed for the route, to be inadequate enough to be unable to get off the quay at one of the only 2 ports she has to serve in weather conditions that aren't particularly unusual? Do you think inconveniencing customers with frequent cancellations when other vessels (some smaller) still voyage in the same part of the English Channel? In our case, October 12 is hardly winter. The size and number of main engines and generators is not directly proportional to bow thruster thrust, it is determined by the power of the bow thruster motor and efficiency of the propeller in the tunnel, assuming there is more than enough generator capacity for all the services running at the time. Specifications state that Barfleur has less generator capacity than Normandie so they aren't the same and surely you mean "power the...bow thruster motors", not "alternators"? 

I'm getting at that year on year the issues of Barfleur are always raised when cancellations ensue due to the forces of nature. Conspiracy theories are raised regarding BF to the point that it's apparently their fault Poole is a quiet port and that Cherbourg could well be extremely popular if not for BF's monopolisation of the western channel, more passengers and freight would swarm to both the ports of Poole and Cherbourg if BF would supply a ship fit for purpose and stop elbowing out much needed competition.

The facts that weather, infrastructure, channel approach constraints and Cherbourg's shift in focus toward renewable energy rather than more traditional port occupations are always ignored in favour of a more sensationalist view.

Last year was all about a shore side generator as of course Barfleur must have power issues, no one bothered to think that these genny's were for cold ironing test purposes.

As for ship specifications, 4 different sources will give four different answers. You hint that Barfleur has a weak BT which would indicate knowledge of one rather than the two she has fitted.

Most modern vessels use their gen sets to power their thrusters, Normandie and Barfleur don't, they are powered by their 4 main engines, the power is fed into alternators, so yes regardless of the 2000 KW power difference, they are configured the same. She is fitted with twin 1500 HP BT's which are powerful enough to manoeuvre a vessel with a GRT of up to 30000 in a force 5 with an LOA of 160-170m. Yes she can increase her speed in the channel as she's not restricted but that just adds to the squat effect, there's not much breathing space for that with just 6 feet underneath her keel.

What about the issue of canting, screw race or transverse thrust or that BT's tend to be seen and used more as a berthing aid?

It's been gone over ad nauseam.

Have you considered these problems before saying quite loudly and rather publicly that you believe the vessel isn't fit for purpose as the use of the term inadequate would suggest?

I also rather doubt that any passenger vessel's master would consider negotiating the limited sea room of Poole harbour and the swash channel or passing Ile Pelée at Cherbourg in a force 9 gale and in just 10 metres of water. I.F won't do it approaching Milford between St Annes Head and Angle where there's far more room and a lot more water.

It's more likely that the reasons for cancellation during the darker months are due to low bookings rather than any mechanical deficiencies assumed by inconvenienced travellers.

 

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She was fully booked over the summer so if she has low loadings it is probably due to the time of the year.  I tried to book a few times and she was always busy on the days I wanted.  Hence my availing myself of Libby, who provided a couple of great days out this year.

Where is HT - the biggest conspiracy theorist about Poole and Barfy on here - been rather quiet..

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19 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

To be honest, she's been down on power since they put the Nespresso machines in her yellow Club Lounge. I mean, what else could it be? Ed. 

Nonsense, it's clearly the Christmas tree on the mast - the complaints always start at this time of year and it's bound to hurt the aerodynamics 😂

 

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25 minutes ago, Khaines said:

She was fully booked over the summer so if she has low loadings it is probably due to the time of the year.  I tried to book a few times and she was always busy on the days I wanted.  Hence my availing myself of Libby, who provided a couple of great days out this year.

Where is HT - the biggest conspiracy theorist about Poole and Barfy on here - been rather quiet..

Yep she's very popular over spring and summer. I think it was only two years ago that her timetable was extended due to her popularity during the extended warmer months we enjoyed.

 

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On 06/12/2018 at 18:01, Slug said:

 The information remained unchanged "all services are operating to schedule" so we were more than a little surprised om arriving at Poole Ferry Terminal that both that day's and the next day's voyages were cancelled due to bad weather.

The website is often a bit late in being updated, however I have found that BF are a lot quicker in sending out texts and emails regarding changes to those affected.

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On 06/12/2018 at 19:01, Slug said:

We were due to sail to Cherbourg from Poole on October 12th. and had knowledge that a southerly gale was forecast 4 days before. I thus checked the online sailing information regularly and up to under an hour before last check-in time and leaving home. The information remained unchanged "all services are operating to schedule" so we were more than a little surprised om arriving at Poole Ferry Terminal that both that day's and the next day's voyages were cancelled due to bad weather. We had to reject the offer of a voyage from Portsmouth to Caen as arrival in France was too late to be able to meet our hotel check-in availability. We gave up on making our first journey for 18 months and noticed the BF web-site was not changed to reflect the cancellations until more than 2 hours after scheduled sailing time. My already diminished enthusiasm for Brittany Ferries was further dented when the response to my formal complaint made no reference to the inaccuracy of the web-site sailing information page.

I have since monitored both Barfleur's departures and the web-site information and now notice that Barfleur voyages seem to be cancelled at the first hint of bad weather. Having had at least one crossing in Force 9 conditions in the past and noticing that Barfleur used to only not depart when she was unable to physically get off the Poole berth (even with assistance for Poole's pathetic tug), I am left wondering what has changed to make this route so unreliable. Making a reservation for the Poole - Cherbourg route has turned into a lottery, anyone like to tell me why?

I don’t know if this helps but one of our regular French customers is an ex BF Captain who I’ve spotted many times while boarding Barfleur, so last week I tackled him with the BFE question of the moment - is the ship underpowered?

The immediate response was yes, absolutely, and then he went into a complicated explanation why ( in French of course!)

I’ve posted on this topic in the past and @jonno you disagreed with me, not for the first time..

Here is my interpretation of what he said having just enjoyed a great supper on a deserted PA heading to Saint-Malo this evening.

As we all know Barfleur was launched in 1992, I was lucky enough to be on her third sailing ex Poole and used her regularly when we lived in the Cherbourg peninsular. The BF company PR machine stated she had been lengthened after sea trials because of increased demand on the Poole - Cherbourg route; maybe so but the important reason was that during these sea trials she proved to be unstable and they couldn’t level her. So having cut her in half during the autumn of 1991, the additional 7 metre section was added out of necessity rather than due to needing more lane metres. This new section was not particularly heavy so after conversion she actually sat higher in the water and the propellers dug less deep than was intended (with less subsequent effect); coupled with the increased wind resistance from a lengthened hull she was more likely to struggle in a strong cross wind. 

And this is the bit I’m not as confident about; their wasn’t enough time to increase engine power so the props were reversed/inverted ( variable pitched propellers can work both ways?) to cope with the new configuration. 

The end result is that straight line speed remains unaffected but manoeuvring has been compromised.

From memory her bow thrusters were upgraded around the early 2000’s but when there’s a strong Westerly blowing in an exposed port she will occasionally struggle.

I’ll try to get a more concise answer from him next time but it would appear cancellations on this route are more due to “operational reasons” than lack of traffic. A recent post talked of 121 passengers and by deduction would have lost BF money. What many posters fail to appreciate is their bread and butter business is freight - 71 freight units at £500 would have generated considerably more income than 50 cars at say £100 (or less). 

Any questions on a very small postcard please...😳

Chris

 
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52 minutes ago, Fine Whine said:

Any questions on a very small postcard please...😳

Not a chance... you know me, at least I'm predictable and can eradicate  the need for sleeping pills!😁

Chris, firstly controllable pitch props used in a flatter configuration would definitely effect propulsion.  The blades are designed to be rotated in order to allow the prop shafts to maintain revolutions rather than disengaging, stopping then rotating in an opposite direction... to enhance manoeuvrability one propeller sits in the opposite configuration to the other, one in reverse one in forward if you like. To stop propulsion the blades are given a flat face although they still rotate.

For me though the crucial question is when was she deemed to be so under powered as to effect sailings? The problems you describe have effected her since the day she was extended back in '91/ '92 not as recent as 2 years ago when this saga began to be a frequent occurrence during winter months. Back in 2014 on this very site it was highlighted how she hardly ever suffered any technical problems.

You can't blame the scrubber installation there's hardly any extra steel on her stacks to create any substantial wind issues. Blink and you'd miss it.

She has 15,600 KW of power and only has a GRT of around 21000. Normandie is nearly a third heavier in terms of gross tonnage and has 17,700KW to play with. Ok, by modern standards you can say she, Normandie and Bretagne are under powered but in terms of size and weight she's not.

1 hour ago, Fine Whine said:

A very smoky PA this evening, Jonno does a colder outside temperature result in more vapour produced ( it was very white smoke)?

Thanks 

Chris

Depends where she was when you took the photo, anywhere still within territorial waters and she must burn MGO, no scrubbers allowed, them be the EU rules, white smoke. No MGO when in port then ships must cold iron. 

MDO & IFO, her main fuel, naturally emits a whiter cloud as it's mixed with distillate to naturally lower the sulphur content. It's noticeable more because it's dark rather than temperature. Northern European refineries no longer produce HFO as a singular fuel, it's all mixed with refined distillate to produce the latter fuel mentioned above.

Enjoy your trip.

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Merci bien  Fine whine

You confirmed my uncle stories (he worked on board Purbeck, Coutances and Barfleur in the 90s and 2000s) ... 
He told me that Barfy had deadweight problems and that this was the only reason for which BF had lengthened her. 
Today, I saw the ARMORIQUE in Cherbourg with her new livery! SMART!
Edited by giloine
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