The build-up of traffic on the Liverpool to Dublin route was clearly evident on Friday when I took my first weekday sailing on the LADY OF MANN to Dublin.
Loadings were - 598 passengers, 128 cars, 5 motorcycles, 2 vans with 51 crew. A virtually full vehicle load. It appears that one of the baggage train tractors is out of action again as the old army Land Rover was in use pulling the baggage trailer.
Departure was delayed by about 3 minutes as three stand-by cars were ticketed and allowed to board.
Ropes were off at 08.33.
At C21 buoy the large VLCC ALANDIA PEARL was passed in-bound for Tranmere. Near C1 the dredger CAVE SAND was over taken heading for the spoil ground. The Bar was passed at 09.30 and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was noted heading inbound from Douglas. With Captain Cowin in command the more further north track was followed passing to the north of the Douglas Rig. As well as the two support ships standing off from the rig, SEAFORTH SUPPORTER and HIGHLAND SUPPORTER, the large jack-up platform vessel IRISH SEA PIONEER was noted jacked up alongside the rig.
Once out beyond the Bar visibility dropped and the Welsh Coast was just visible. Beyond Holyhead visibility dropped further and as a bank of sea mist was entered the sound of a fog horn could be faintly heard - presumably the fog signal station at South Stack ?
Visibility improved as Dublin Bay was entered at 14.04 with the Kish lighthouse visible to port. Anchored in the bay a Coastal Container Lines vessel was awaiting a berth. A sand barge was overtaken some way to port it looked like the SPLIT ONE. About a mile off the Poolbeg light the MERCHANT VENTURE was passed bound for Heysham as was the W.D. MEDWAY II dredger which was busy at work in the Liffey approach channel. In Dublin Docks KATHERINA B [B.G. Freight Lines] and COASTAL BAY [Coastal Container Line] were loading. Beyond berth 49 - the IRISH FERRIES/IOMSPCO terminal the large UECC car carrier JAPANA was visible.
Up river at the P&O berth was the chartered SEAHAWK loading for its sailing to Liverpool. The vessel appears to have received something of a repaint since I photographed it some weeks ago on the Liffey.
There was a very pungent, sewage small around the terminal as the LADY arrived. However, it was noted that Dublin Corporation's sludge boat SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was appeared to be loading up at its berth opposite the ferry terminal!
This time no pilot was picked up for the journey up the Liffey. Presumably, Captain Cowin now has his Liffey pilot's licence ?
Loading was prompt. At 16.15 the crew were ready to close up but some last minute stand by cars were allowed through and departure did not take place until the scheduled 16.30. Once again there was a good load on board with 485 passengers, 123 cars, 2 vans and 2 motor cycles.
On the way out of the channel the W.D. MEDWAY II was still busy dredging whilst the coaster ARKLOW MEADOW which had departed ahead of the LADY OF MANN was seen heading south.
Baily Light was passed at 17.00. At 17.07 MERCHANT BRILLIANT was passed Dublin bound and shortly afterwards and unidentified Crescent Shipping tanker was seen heading southwards. Visibility was improved on this east bound crossing. However it was insufficient to make out much in the way of interest.
Off the Welsh coast the container vessel CITY OF MANCHESTER was passed heading west bound at 19.46 followed shortly behind by a small coaster.
The Bar was passed at 21.42 the light was now failing fast and several ships where passed heading outbound, of those, only Norse Mersey's MERSEY VIKING and the diminutive Mezeron Line's CLAUDIA W were identifiable. The LADY berthed at the landing stage 15 minutes early at 22.45.