SEACAT ISLE OF MAN
29th May 1997
09.00 Liverpool - Douglas
Commander: Captain Albiston
I arrived at the Sea Terminal at the Pier Head at around 08.00 to find that SEACAT ISLE OF MAN had not yet arrived. There was no problem obtaining a foot passenger return ticket, however, bookings for vehicles were looking to be near capacity as the TT rush was well and truly underway and bikers without reservations were being dealt with on a "standby basis".
Boarding of the SEACAT began about 08.30. Once on board there was not much shipping to be seen on the River Mersey but one notable vessel was visible off the Cammell Laird slipways - the new THAMES VITALITY [see below] which, according to radio transmissions, was undertaking anchor trials. She then set off down river on further trials. After some standby bikers and other vehicles were called forward the SEACAT managed to let go at 09.30 - half an hour behind schedule. The Captain reporting 335 passengers on board to Mersey Radio. Well inside the SeaCat's carrying capacity for foot passengers even though she was full for vehicles. Just before SEACAT ISLE OF MAN moved off the stage the Cory tug YEWGARTH also came off stage having been berthed south of the linkspan.
Off New Brighton the dredger CAVE SAND was passed in-bound from the spoil ground for Cammell Laird's no 7 dry dock where she has been undertaking dredging work for some weeks in connection with the recommissioning of this dock. Near the BETA boat beacon in the approach channel the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company dredger MERSEY VENTURE was passed in-bound. Near the Bar a two masted square-rigged sailing vessel was noted, though she was too far off to note her name. The Bar was passed at 10.10. Some minutes later the LADY OF MANN passed on the port side in-bound for Liverpool. She looked super with the sun reflecting off her new paint and travelling at speed.
An uneventful journey took place with the SEACAT berthing stern first at number one berth on the Victoria Pier at Douglas. Ropes were ashore at 12.10. On the adjacent Edward Pier was the BELARD which has been operating the Heysham - Douglas freight service for the past couple of months.
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN
29th May 1997
13.00 Liverpool - Douglas
Commander: Captain Kinley
The return sailing from Douglas departed at 13.11 and was well loaded with foot passengers. I missed the radio transmission to Douglas Harbour Control so do not have the passenger figures. An uneventful trip to the Bar followed. The only shipping of note being a number of beam trawlers at work, some of which had been seen in the outward crossing. Some of these vessels appear to be using Canada Dock, Liverpool as a base.
The Bar was passed at 15.03. In the channel and heading out to sea the following vessels were passed: OMMUDOS[?} which looked like a gas tanker, a very scruffy looking container ship CITY OF SALERNO and then the tanker WALSTERTAL. Overtaken just off New Brighton was North West Water's sludge vessel CONSORTIUM 1 enroute back to Liverpool after dumping operations in Liverpool Bay. The dredger MERSEY VENTURE was noted at work dredging the entrance to Langton Lock.
As the SEACAT approached the stage it was apparent that the LADY OF MANN was still berthed and had not left at her scheduled departure time of 15.00. This caused the SEACAT to lay off the stage from about 15.35. The LADY let go at 15.57 and quickly vacated the berth [only one ship can berth when the link span is in place] and by 16.02 SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was alongside Prince's Landing Stage. The stage was again filling up with bikes even though the LADY OF MANN had only left minutes before with and obviously very full load. However, some confusion by the stage-hands over which mooring bollards to use and some general tardiness meant that it was not until 16.15 was the passenger gangway onboard.
However, it is easy to be critical, however, much praise should be passed to the Steam Packet crews and shore staff during the TT period for working very hard to ensure things go as smoothly as possible given the vast numbers of passengers and vehicles travelling. The fact that they manage to maintain their good humour and deal with the public in a courteous manner despite the mayhem is most praiseworthy.