Saturday 21 September
11.00 Liverpool - Douglas
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN
Commander: Captain Thompson.
Weather: Cloudy/Sunny, wind 3 to 5 off Isle of Man
The ticketing computers appeared to be playing up this morning, which combined with passenger's searching for the cheapest crossings with vehicles caused quite a lengthy queue. It took the lady on the ticket counter about 10 minutes to get the ticket issued! Boarding of foot passengers commenced at around 10.45 and it appeared that there might be a delay. However, the problems with the ticketing computers must have been resolved and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN had cast off by 10.57 - 3 minutes early with 235 passengers on board.
With low water in the river and the tide just having turned there was little traffic about. A large VLCC was discharging at Tranmere stage. The Mersey Ferry MOUNTWOOD was at the Landing Stage. Passing Gladstone River Entrance the Cory tug WATERLOO was overtaken. At C16 the inbound SHINKAZE was passed followed a few hundred metres behind by Fisher's SILVERTHORN heading for Bromborough Wall.. There was little other traffic. In Queen's Channel the Shell coastal tanker ARIANTA was passed inbound.
A little further north a naval vessel was visible from the SeaCat, however, as I was in the queue for the Bar I wasn't able to identify it on the outward run. No other traffic of note was passed though the swell became more pronounced about 10 miles or so off Douglas. Berthing at Douglas was completed by 13.35. In the harbour was the BELARD loading for the afternoon sailing to Heysham. Also moored in the harbour were the Manx Government's Patrol Boat ENBARR and the new high speed Manx Customs & Excise intercept craft which was described in Mersey Shipping News a few months ago.
Saturday 20 September
14.30 Douglas - Liverpool
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN
Commander: Captain Crellin
Weather: Sunny/Bright Isle of Man, overcast Liverpool. Winds gusting to force 5.
Departure from Douglas was at 14.29 with 305 passengers, 74 Cars and one Motor Caravan. An uneventful passage followed. For the first few miles out of Douglas there was quite a swell running. However, things soon calmed down. Just south of the Liverpool Bay Off Shore Installation the naval craft noted on the outward journey appeared and I was able to identify her as A319 HMS BEAGLE. BEAGLE is a survey vessel and until recently carried the distinctive white hull and buff funnel of other RN Survey Vessels. However, she now carries battle ship grey. As the SeaCat passed she appeared to put on a turn of speed as if a race was intended. However, with a modest cruising speed of only 15knots there was no contest!
Just off the Bar a large Shell VLCC was at anchor. The Bar was passed at 16.23. In the approach channel the LPG Tanker NORTHERN STAR, and the large coasters KARABELLE and LADAGA 8 were passed all heading outbound and appearing to be loaded. The SeaCat made fast at 17.07 - seven minutes behind schedule.