Saturday 14th September 1997
08.30 Liverpool to Dublin
Commander: Captain Vernon Kinley
WEATHER: Wind Force:7 With gusts of up to 40knots
Sunny with occasional squally showers. Visibility good.
SEA STATE: Rough, later moderate.
The weather forecast suggested that there could be a good blow on Saturday so it was off down to the Pier Head for another trip on the LADY OF MANN to Dublin!
Now despite the fact that the summer school holidays are over for another year it was pleasing to see such activity down at the Sea Terminal. Usually, traffic on the Isle of Man sailings from Liverpool traffic tails off noticeably in September. Obviously the Dublin route does not appear to be suffering from this!
Vehicle loading commenced first and with the first cars being sent to the top of the stern ramp it was obvious that another good load was in the offing.
The LADY OF MANN departed a few minutes late at 08.37 due to the need the heavy vehicle traffic and need to book on a couple of stand-byes. A caravan owner was very lucky as his van just managed to squeeze in after being measured.
Loading figures were Passengers: 422, vehicles: 125, trailers: 4 and motor cycles: 2
Whilst loading was underway, several vessels were noted about on the River. At Tranmere North Oil Stage was Shell's VLCC BOLENA. She had arrived on Friday evening's tide and was discharging. At the Tranmere South Stage was a smaller tanker.
One of the very smart Arklow coasters - ARKLOW VIKING, a familiar sight on the Mersey, passed by heading downstream. Two of James Fisher Plc's coasters were also on the move. Whilst the LADY was still at the stage ROSETHORN passed inbound for Bromborough Wall, whilst outbound SILVERTHORN passed by. These two ships still carry the distinctive livery of Coe-Metcalf Motor Coasters a James Fisher subsidiary which only last year changed its name to James Fisher [Liverpool] Ltd.
One underway some other interesting vessels were passed including the freighters BAVERIA and later the ELISIA was passed inbound at C18 buoy shortly after the LADY overtook the SILVERTHORN just off C19 buoy.
The LADY left the channel at Q3 ARKLOW VIKING could be seen heading north-west. In bound and on time, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN could be seen heading inbound for Liverpool at 09.35 just about on time despite the rough conditions which caused her to dip quite noticeably into the wave troughs.
Anchored at the Bar was the appropriately registered [Middlefhart] ERIK KOSAN an LPG carrier often to be seen taking gas to the Isle of Man.
As we approached travelled along the North Wales coast I was invited by Captain Kinley to go up to the bridge and spent the rest of the journey to Dublin on the port bridge wing. What a superb grandstand view!
Passing Amlwch a Cast Line container ship could be seen at anchor. Further away a tanker which looked like a KOSAN GAS LPG carrier.
Captain Kinley uses a route much further south than the other Masters and quite close to the Anglesey Coast. However, he told me that because of the sea state we would have to pass outside of the Middle Mouse, a small rocky islet just off the Anglesey coast. However, as on previous sailings with Captain Kinley we passed inside the Skerries.
At 12.45 STENA CHALLENGER passed inbound to Holyhead, whilst shortly after a James Fisher tanker whose profile suggested CABLEMAN came into view heading from a South Westerly direction. Irish Ferries ISLE OF INISHMORE passed to the south of this vessel. The HSS Stena Explorer was noted Holyhead bound a little later.
At 13.27 P&O's IBEX was passed on the starboard side heading for Liverpool whilst a trawler headed northbound.
Approaching Dublin Bay the Baily was passed at 14.50 at about the same time as MERCHANT VENTURE passed outbound to Heysham.
Watching Captain Kinley berth the LADY OF MANN is fascinating. He makes it look no more difficult than parking a car but that obviously comes as a result of years of experience in handling the LADY. We turned just down stream off the terminal and then moved her astern onto berth 49.
We were securely berthed at around 15.24.
Saturday 14th September 1997
16.30 Liverpool to Douglas
Commander: Captain Vernon Kinley
WEATHER: The wind had moderated significantly with gusts of up to 20 knots reported by Dublin Radio. Visibility: Good
SEA STATE: moderate.
On the South Quay the container ship RHINE MASTER was preparing to sail at 17.00 for Southampton. The Pilot taking her out was the due to transfer to the inbound PHILLIP waiting off the Dublin Bay buoy. Also at South Quay were was WESTWIND. As usual SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was at her [his?!] berth opposite the terminal. Also noted in the northern container berths was COASTAL BAY taking a return load back to Liverpool. The previous evening I had watched her come out into a stormy Mersey at from the Langton River entrance.
Another virtual capacity loading of 138 including 5 stand-by vehicles were loaded for the return sailing. A late-comer in a silver BMW must not have been used to the side-loading concept and was seen to go racing round to the lower level of the link-span before having to make a quick return to the quay side.
The LADY OF MANN finally departed at 16.52. Outbound near Dublin Bay Buoy the inbound P&O PUMA was passed, and shortly afterwards we passed the anchored PHILLIP, which was awaiting an inbound pilot.
At 17.47 the inbound SEAHAWK under charter to P&O was passed from Liverpool followed sometime later by an unidentified Merchant Ferries vessel. The SEAHAWK's morning sailing from Liverpool presumably having been delayed. Mersey Radio broadcasts suggests she normally departs around 06.00
A little later STENA CHALLENGER and ISLE OF INISHMORE passed to starboard. A little later I was invited up onto the bridge again. It was a fine clear evening with an almost full moon as darkness fell. Up on the bridge away from the main lights of the ship the Anglesey coastline stretched away to the east clearly silhouetted against the gathering dusk. Captain Kinley told me that this time we would pass between Middle Mouse and the coast as the sea state had now moderated and so the LADY passed through this narrow stretch of water.
To the north east an orange glow lit up the night sky - the flare of the Douglas Rig - was visible long before rig itself came into view. We passed steadily along north Wales coast until we regained the approach channel. Several outbound vessels passed including the now empty BOLENA and NORSE LAGAN. It was interesting to view the Mersey approach channel at night from the bridge with its line of flashing buoys marking the way. As we passed Seacombe a Cory tug scurried past. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN, which had been occupying the stage as a result of cancelled sailings [She should not have been due in until 00.00] moved off to allow the LADY OF MANN to come alongside.
Once again Captain Kinley brought the LADY quickly alongside and she was made fast at 23.25 hours.
This was a really enjoyable trip and am extremely grateful to Captain Kinley for allowing me to spend so much time up on the bridge and see the journey from such a different perspective.