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Brittany Ferries Fleet - Seakeeping


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Hi All,

As fellow enthusiasts I would like to know your thoughts and opinions on the current fleet and how you think they are as sea keepers. What do you feel are the characteristics of each vessel?

I've been travelling with BF en route to France since I was a toddler so have experienced a lot of the fleet. I would be very interested to hear your experiences. 

Kind regards,

Mark. 

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Although the oldest the Bretagne has to be one of the best sea keepers. She was properly designed, in those days, with a cruiser stem for the the Bay of Biscay service to Spain, even though she only ran that service for a short time. Still good in a storm although Galicia will be way ahead being brand new.

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I remember doing a crossing in the Bretagne when, unforcasted it hit force 10 - it was a little bit choppy and we were late getting into St M.

The Bretagne is still (in my view) the Series Land Rover of the fleet, the other ships are lovely plastic 4x4's with bells whistles and gizmos, but, if it's really tough out there, you pull that red lever back and get stuck in....

Only people of a certain age will get that

Rhys  

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It was an epic trip. Back in the day when I was too tight to pay for cabins so the then girlfriend an I wandered the ship till we found the pivot point, this was a stairwell slightly aft on deck 5 or 6 as i recall.

So, while people elsewhere were enjoying the funfair ride we slept in our relatively stable bit of deck in our 57 pattern dos bags (certain age required for that too). 

My 57 pattern is still my faithfull companion when I work festivals - like the Bretagne, stick with something that works. 

Rhys

 

 

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Of all the journeys in rough seas we have been on the cap finistere and normandie have been our most comfortable. The most uncomfortable we had was on Pont Aven last July when we had a cabin towards the front, although it wasn’t rough there was a fairly big swell as we went down from Plymouth and it was very uncomfortable for a good few hours, a lot of people were cleary struggling as the outside desks at the rear were very busy!! 

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12 hours ago, Botley Dan said:

Of all the journeys in rough seas we have been on the cap finistere and normandie have been our most comfortable. The most uncomfortable we had was on Pont Aven last July when we had a cabin towards the front, although it wasn’t rough there was a fairly big swell as we went down from Plymouth and it was very uncomfortable for a good few hours, a lot of people were cleary struggling as the outside desks at the rear were very busy!! 

Pont Aven corkscrews in a millpond. It's one of her most endearing features :) 

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3 minutes ago, Khaines said:

Barfy and Normandie. Both great seakeepers.  Armorique rolled for England on one of my crossings on her.

Although both Barfy and Normandie tend to plough generally much calmer waters...!

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Recently I have tended to sail on the Armorique when travelling to Brittany in the last 3-4 years. I don't think she is great. In the 8 or so journeys I would say all but one she just rolls in fairly calm waters. The brick like structure is definitely a compromise and balance from front to aft can't be very good. 

The worst I have sailed in was without doubt the Quiberon. Filled a fair few 'sac Mal de mer's' on her. I have enduring memories of people spewing on the cabin decks on route back to their cabin. 

I would completely agree with Bretagne - smooth as silk. The Barfleur is my favourite though - smoothes out rough seas and doesn't have a tendency to roll like the Pont.

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Of the current BF fleet, I've experienced both Pont-Aven & Cap Finisitere in stormy Biscay weather, and I found the latter vessel (which wasn't purpose built for the route) to be more stable in those conditions. I can't comment on the others since, fortunately, the weather has always been kind to me on those ;)

Last year whilst on the bridge of DFDS' Selandia Seaways I asked one of the officers if that ship was any better in rough weather compared to the King/Princess Seaways, and his answer was an emphatic 'yes'. Clearly I don't know if this says anything about passenger ferries generally, but I found it interesting all the same. 

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The Galicia is better than the Cap ... and I have always been impressed with the Cap. The only negative with Galicia is her inability to outrun storms. I’ve been on the Cap a few times when she has been doing 29knts to outrun a December storm.    Also the Cap has the restaurant midship while the Galicia has it over the bow... I was always told low and midship was the best place to be on a lumpy crossing. 

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On 17/12/2020 at 21:13, Penlan said:

I remember doing a crossing in the Bretagne when, unforcasted it hit force 10 - it was a little bit choppy and we were late getting into St M.

The Bretagne is still (in my view) the Series Land Rover of the fleet, the other ships are lovely plastic 4x4's with bells whistles and gizmos, but, if it's really tough out there, you pull that red lever back and get stuck in....

Only people of a certain age will get that

Rhys  

Love this reply. Bretagne is certainly the best in the fleet for sea keeping it doesn't even have to be considered. 

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On 18/12/2020 at 10:54, hf_uk said:

Pont Aven corkscrews in a millpond. It's one of her most endearing features :) 

Pont Aven slams and bangs forward of her Bow in a very little swell it drives me mad. I love rough seas but she is just annoying. Shame really as she was designed for the Bay!!

Bretagne has the best Bow for any rough seas, the wave breaker protects her forward structure and long Atlantic Bow just cuts through the waves. Amazing ship she is. 

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On 18/12/2020 at 12:19, jonno said:

For me the chartered Visentini's, MSM & Cap Finistere are the best of the fleet closely followed by Bretagne. As for Pont Aven, she'd corkscrew on wet grass.

I must one of the few people who really doesn't enjoy the Visentinis in any kind of rough seas. 

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4 hours ago, ross brown said:

Pont Aven slams and bangs forward of her Bow in a very little swell it drives me mad. I love rough seas but she is just annoying. Shame really as she was designed for the Bay!!

Bretagne has the best Bow for any rough seas, the wave breaker protects her forward structure and long Atlantic Bow just cuts through the waves. Amazing ship she is. 

I agree but I've learnt to expect and love it haha 

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Since there is so much going on that saddens us, I will try to bring a laugh or two.

In 1960, the North of Scotland Orkney and Shetland Shipping company launched the new St Clair, purpose designed for the routes, and built within view of where we lived at the time, by Ailsa Shipbuilders in Troon. Some smart ass naval architects, who had probably been trained by the RN, decided that a fine bow was required to cleave those northern waves. She was the first boat up there with stabilisers to reduce her rolling.

What a horlicks .... I was on her one winter night when a stabiliser broke off .... Worse, on every wave, you were convinced that you were about to meet Davy Jones. She pitched like you cannot imagine. Up she went, then down, down, down, down, shaking and shuddering towards the ocean floor, before slowly, ever so slowly, rising again, up and up, only to plunge towards the abyss again. Shetlanders went to incredible lengths to avoid travelling on her, and if they had to, they worked a routine. 18:00 departure, boarding from 16:00. Hit the First Class Bar (Second Class bar was rarely open), drink yourself into oblivion, lie down, and stay down. A steward would make sure you were propped against something immovable, and put a blanket over you. This was if you didn't have friends in the oil business, who could scam you hitching a ride in a plane or helicopter ...

Early on, I was (much) too young to go for the alcohol blackout, and trying to survive inside the ship was impossible, so I "slept" on a side deck, forward, in the lee of a bulkhead, with whatever stuff I could find loose like tarpaulins or whatever. The purser, a Pottinger for many years, would check on me through the night. On arrival I would be picked up around 07:00 and straight to auntie Ina's in Lerwick for a HUGE breakfast.

A bit like VdL fans here, there are a few fans of that St Clair still alive, I know not how, but they are massively outnumbered by those whose memories match mine.

She was a good looking boat though ...

 

StClair1960_02.jpg

StClair1960_03.jpg

StClair1960_05.jpg

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31 minutes ago, hf_uk said:

I agree but I've learnt to expect and love it haha 

As a ship, discounting all of her internal features, Pont Aven is one of the worst ferries I've ever sailed on and that list is pretty long. I don't really know what Meyer Werft were thinking. If they'd done their homework properly they'd never have fitted the windows so low on the bridge superstructure for starters. The yard needs to understand that in many instances ferries sail through storms whilst cruise ships mostly turn and run the other way.

When they built Oriana the depth of the river wasn't taken into account in terms of the ships draft and damaged the propellers... wife's uncle wasn't impressed to say the least.

You need less than 5 fingers to count how many passenger car ferries the yard has build over the last 40 years, I think the total is three, Estonia, Silja Europa & Pont Aven.

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My Wife and I travelled on St Clair in the early 1970s and all you say is true. Normally I have a cast iron stomach when it comes to seasickness but St Clair tested it to the limit with the movement and awful vibration. We travelled in summer and it was still a thoroughly unpleasant experience.  Especially in 2nd class.

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22 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

My Wife and I travelled on St Clair in the early 1970s and all you say is true. Normally I have a cast iron stomach when it comes to seasickness but St Clair tested it to the limit with the movement and awful vibration. We travelled in summer and it was still a thoroughly unpleasant experience.  Especially in 2nd class.

There were compensations .... I got to know Aly Bain and learnt about booze .... And it made returning after many years of not going home by sea, to discover the Hjaltland and Hrossey, decent Malbec and a breakfast that BF would not recognise (sadly Ina is no longer with us).

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