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Voyage Report: Sea Containers


by John H. Luxton


Liverpool to Dublin

29th August 1997

Commander: Captain Cowin

Visibility: Good/Moderate

Sea State: rough/moderate

Wind: Force 7, gusts up to 40knots, moderating

Unsettled weather towards the end of the week suggested it was time for yet another trip to Dublin on the Lady. Down at the Pier Head it was quite gusty. The Port Radar Tower reporting force 7 winds with occasional gusts of up to 40knots.

The LADY OF MANN was bobbing about quite nicely as I made my way on board. Over on the Birkenhead side of the River the P&O ro/ro ferry LEOPARD was leaving Alfred river entrance. Visible downstream off New Brighton was Norse Irish Ferries' MERSEY VIKING, running late because of the prevailing conditions. Normally this vessel is scheduled to enter Langton lock between 05.30 and 06.30. There was another distraction of a non maritime kind. Fire engine sirens were sounding and near St Nicholas's church could be seen blue lights. Apparently Richmond House, a block of offices in Rumford Place had caught fire this only being discovered as people arrived for work.

Loading was completed quite rapidly. It was apparent that compared to previous weeks the out going load was considerably smaller. No cars on the ramps at all and not so many passengers either.

Outward loadings were 41 cars, 2 vans 2 motorcycles and 358 passengers.

Ropes were off at 08.32. As the LADY moved off the MERSEY VIKING was in the river between Langton Lock and the Pier Head. The Howard Smith Towing Company Tugs GLADSTONE and CANADA had by now taken likes aboard to get the vessel into the lock.

Several miles ahead of the LADY could be seen the LEOPARD. This vessel disappeared from view later, though she would reappear later in the day.

Two coastal container vessels HERM J and KIRSTEN both are regulars on the Liverpool to Dublin container routes were in mid river stemming the tide prior to entering the locks.

In bound in the channel the Shell tanker CIDALIA and James Fisher's STEERSMAN were passed inbound. The STEERSMAN wearing Fisher's new fleetname on the funnel, though without the flying bird [stork?] logo which accompanied the fleetname on the company's annual report.

Despite the incoming tide flood tide the LADY made good progress up the down the channel to The Bar. There was a certain amount of pitching but nothing remarkable. The Bar light was passed at 09.34. Normally on this sailing SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is in view, inbound on the 07.30 from Douglas. Of her there was no sign. I thought she had been cancelled or rescheduled because of the weather. However, at 09.45 an outward-bound LPG tanker was visible off the Welsh coast. However, a few minutes later SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was seen heading eastbound. Presumably she had taken the more direct route from the Isle of Man to get the shelter of the Welsh coast rather than the usual straight-line route from Douglas to the Bar.

Visibility was not good and the Welsh coast became virtually invisible until the Skerries light was seen at around 11.58.

Some miles off to the south off South Stack could be seen the outline of P&O's LEOPARD which was gaining on the chartered SEA HAWK. The latter vessel having passed through the locks at Liverpool at around 06.45 according to Mersey Radio.

At around 13.06 to port P&O's IBEX was seen heading eastbound to Liverpool with MERCHANT BRILLIANT passing east bound to Heysham.

Conditions were steadily improving with wind and sea state moderating and visibility also improving. At 13.18 the ISLE OF INISHMORE was passed heading for HOLYHEAD on the delayed 09.45 sailing from Dublin. During the past couple of days, Teletext Ferry News had reported delays of up to 4 hours on INISHMORE sailing's.

The Baily was passed at 14.39, shortly after passing MERCHANT VENTURE which was heading out from Dublin.

By now along way astern, the LEOPARD and SEA HAWK were both visible

with LEOPARD now taking the lead.

ARROW SAND, pulling sand plough was in the Liffey channel. SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was at its usual berth adjacent the terminal.

Ropes were on at Dublin at 15.10.

Whilst ashore at Dublin the LEOPARD arrived and headed up stream to the P&O berth. This was followed by SEA HAWK.

Coastal container vessels noted at this time. COASTAL BAY was on the South Wall, KATHERINE B and JANE were in the container berths east of the terminal. The EMMA was noted heading outbound accompanied by pilot launch DODDER at around 16.00

Another green hulled container vessel moved which if I can decipher my notes was the AMY.



Dublin to Liverpool

29th August 1997

Commander: Captain Cowin

Visibility: good/excellent

Sea State: moderate/slight

Unfortunately I hadn't charged up my scanner batteries sufficiently the previous night and unfortunately I was unable to monitor the maritime frequencies on the return run. There was a virtual capacity load of vehicles [135?] on board as well as a good load of passengers. Several announcements being made to deter people from occupying the tables of the Promenade Café for the duration of the voyage and taking up too many seats. Many passengers appear to require one seat to sit on and another for their hand baggage which basically is just an excuse for deterring anyone else from sitting next to them! <grin>

Departure was at 16.35, the Baily being passed at 17.01. At 17.50 MERCHANT BRAVERY passed heading towards Dublin whilst over on the starboard side the ISLE OF INISHMORE was passed at 18.08. Usually the LADY on the 16.30 sailing from Dublin passes the ISLE OF INISHMORE at around 17.35 to 17.45. Obviously the vessel was working hard to catch up with its timetable.

Visibility was now excellent in the evening light. Lambay Island was brightly lit and the whole east coast of Ireland to the Mourne Mountains were visible. A rather nice sunset was to follow.

It was dark by the time the Mersey Bar was reached, and without the scanner I had little chance of identifying any outbound vessels unless they had large names or familiar profiles! [Perhaps I need save up, or more likely win the lottery, and get some night vision binoculars for the winter sailings when the whole Dublin to Liverpool section will be in darkness!] A tanker was seen heading north at the entrance to the buoyed channel. In the channel as Willie Lines tanker was passed with a pilot launch running alongside. Shortly afterwards came the MERSEY VIKING on its sailing to Belfast. The LADY arrived off the landing stage at 22.35 but manoeuvring to come along side, which isn't made easy by the presence of the SeaCat linkspan pontoon meant that ropes were not on until just after 22.45.


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