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den herraghty

Cap Finisterre as a footie

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’ve wanted to sample Cap Finistere since she joined the fleet but, as we all know on this site, it’s well nigh impossible to do so as a footie - until this winter.

 

Hi!

 

I

My day off falls on a Thursday two weeks out of three so the initial intention was to travel on the 4 December sailing out to Le Havre and back using the excellent BFE offer. Keeping a weather eye on the strike/disruption threads (sorry about the pun!) I decided to hold off a week until I saw how the situation panned out. In either instance I would need to take some lieu time to get to Portsmouth International Port in time for the 14.30 sailing and, having explained the situation, my manager was happy to be flexible about the date. 

 

As we all know my original sailing was cancelled “due to weather” so the plan worked. I booked a two berth outside cabin for the sum of £ 74.20 and was allocated 8030 for both sailings. All I had to do now was wait and hope that the forecasted weather wouldn’t spoil my eagerly anticipated trip.

 

My journey to work at 05 dark o’clock on the morning of the 11th confirmed that it was, indeed, windy. I had checked AIS before going to bed the previous evening which indicated CF was on her way and due into Portsmouth roughly on time.  Newer colleagues didn’t believe that I was spending all that time/money just to get on a particular ship - sigh! - some people never learn…..

 

The X4 from Fareham dropped me at the Rudmore Roundabout conveniently in between showers and I was quickly checked in. Onwards to the shop for reading materiel - and a wait while the assistant finished her conversation with a port worker - and the Costa Coffee counter which was quite busy. I really wanted a beer to pass the time but on a previous visit I had waited at the bar and was told to join the Costa queue - guess what……...beer in hand - after re-positioning to the “World Marchee” counter - I chilled out for a little while. The area marked ‘Bar’ was firmly shuttered. My relaxation was interrupted by a ferocious five minute squall (with hailstones) which was both loud and impressive!

 

Embarkation was called a little early and security was interesting. It would appear that Le Havre footies are a suspicious lot as, having passed through the archway successfully, we (all 11 of us) were then manually searched - my rolled up sleeve causing particular concern! Once onboard the transfer bus we drove past the open, welcoming ramp of CF and onwards to the gangway tower for the 14.45 Caen service. Some swift tooting from a BF service vehicle and a radio conversation later we were dropped off on the correct ship!  Up the escalators and I passed by the passengers leaving luggage to my cabin on 8 deck.

 

I had hardly reached 8030 when the welcome and safety announcements were being made (by a most calm and reassuring male voice) and I noticed that we had started to move - 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Anyone who has read my reports before knows that I like to be on the outer decks with a beer when sailing, so it was a quick hike to the Planets Bar on 7 deck for said libation before heading to the rather wet open area aft on 9 deck. Here I “toasted” HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales - one of the first times both vessels had been in Portsmouth together. QE had a Merlin helicopter ranged on deck which seemed to be doing engineering trials.

 

Departure done further exploring is required and the starboard side access to 10 deck is closed. A comment in another thread enquired if the outer areas on 9/10 deck were closed for the winter however the port side access to 10 deck was open and the cafe was too. A couple of hot meals were on offer but I decided to give the rather cold looking steward a reason for being there and had another pint. He joined me a few minutes later looking wistfully at BDS riding at anchor in St Helen’s Roads - kind of like he was wishing he was on her.

 

Back into warmer areas and more exploration. Restaurant du Port didn’t open until 17.30, Petit Marche supplied me with some refreshments to keep me going and it was off to bed in a deliciously lumpy sea for a couple of hours!

 

Arriving at the restaurant I was warmly welcomed, opted for the beef burger with stilton (negative stilton) for dinner, a nice bottle of wine with good service to complete the experience.  

 

Le Havre was reached on schedule and, after a short wait at reception on 7 deck it was down to the car deck and the bus to the terminal. Thankfully the foot passenger arrival experience has improved since my last visit when it was “off ship - up stairs to the P+O aerial gangway - along gangway to immigration - down to ground level et vv”. Now it’s on a bus - immigration - exit to the delights of Le Havre on a December night.

 

Speaking of which I had a wander into the city. I did fancy a quick ‘pression’ but I found myself looking into the two bars I came across somewhat similar to an urchin in a Charles Dickens’ novel. Whilst people seemed to be enjoying themselves - they weren’t for me so I returned to the port and the brightly lit CF.

 

Departing Le Havre was much of a ‘lesse faire’ experience. Border Control turn up, check passport, no security, on bus, on board - simples!. Departure beer was from the ‘Finisterre’ midships on 7 deck for a slightly late departure. Once outside the harbour it was time for bed.

 

Scheduled arrival in Portsmouth was 07.15 so the announcement around about then that we had been delayed ‘due to congestion at the port’ and apologies etc…. was a welcome one. Alongside just after 08.00 there were several BF HI-VIS jacketed personnel being briefed whilst I had a ‘petit formule’ in the Finisterre bar. Called down to Reception on 7 deck about five minutes later - we had to wait for about twenty minutes before we could disembark. Bus to terminal and a firmly closed arrivals hall. Eleven (again!) of us waited until Border Force personnel turned up and were closely scrutinised by personnel (BF - why have you spent two hours in France; ME - because I wanted ’to go on CF’; further questioning and I was let go.)

 

I’ve been on four ‘Superfasts’ now. One from Rosyth - Zeebrugge with the cruise experience (evacuation drills etc) and StenaSuperfast VII/VIII from Cairnryan (Stenafied) and I don’t think I would want to cruise to Spain on this ship. Admittedly it was off season, a route it doesn’t normally operate on but!!!!!!!!!!! Good to have another ship to my collection!

 

Thanks for reading and comments are always welcome!

 

Den




 

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On 24/12/2019 at 22:39, den herraghty said:

Eleven (again!) of us waited until Border Force personnel turned up and were closely scrutinised by personnel (BF - why have you spent two hours in France; ME - because I wanted ’to go on CF’; further questioning and I was let go.)

Aha the classic 'transport enthusiast faced with questions from authority' conundrum! 

In the same measure, whilst rail trips don't involve questions from UK Border Force, I'm sure it was the same odd look I get from platform staff getting of a Northbound train to get a Southbound one back at somewhere random like Market Harborough!

[insert any comparable situation involving a journey to a destination with little/no time spent in destination here] 😁

Edited by AdamW

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The reply to a similar question at Oustreham that I'd come over to do some work on the boat without risk of interruption from the bl**dy phone and to buy some cheese and bread was accepted. 

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In the days when I had big proof reading jobs to do I always booked a day-trip!

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I've done a number of day trips to Ook of Olland for meetings and barge inspections etc, and each time the Harwich border people have been strangely interested in my motives.

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If they’re going to take more foot passengers then they need to do something about improving the foot passenger boarding facilities.

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Guys,

Thanks for taking the time to read my report and for all the welcome comments. 

Sorry about the fubar at the start - don't know how that happened......

Looking forward to the Galicia/Salamander trip opportunities.

Den

 

 

 

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