Friday, February 20, 1998
14.15 - Liverpool - Douglas
Commander: Captain Bridson
Winds: S/SE 5-6 occasionally 7 off Isle of Man. Visibility: Moderate to poor. Sea State: Moderate to rough
Most of my journeys on KING ORRY have been confined to the Douglas - Heysham route. This was to be only my second journey outward bound from Liverpool on KING ORRY.
I arrived down at the terminal at around 13.15, the KING had only just arrived and vehicles were being discharged. What with parked vehicles, vehicles arriving for shipment and those leaving the vessel, combined with vehicles trying to get access to the new office block on Princes Parade it was a scene of general confusion.
In the ticket office the ticket machines were playing up [yet again!] and there was a long, slow moving, queue snaking its way around the Tensabarriers. Just after I managed to get into the departure lounge at around 13.45 an announcement was made apologising for the delay which was due to a system malfunction and that manual ticket/boarding card issuing would take place.
Once on board I made my way to the stern of the KING ORRY and was surprised to find that the "patio furniture" which is a feature of the stern area outside the Veranda Bar had been removed. It looked as though this had happened quite recently too, as the feet marks were visible.
From the stern it was possible to watch dock engineers working at securing the IoMSPCo linkspan in place with the aid of the floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH. Presumably berthing trials at the Pier Head with SSC2 will commence very soon.
Just few minutes prior to the KING ORRY departing, the MERSEY MAMMOTH had moved off the stage heading down river to Langton Lock.
It was obvious that the KING ORRY would not leave on time given the number of vehicles to be boarded. Departure was somewhat late at 14.38. Liverpool Coastguard was informed by radio that ETA at Douglas would be 19.00.
As KING ORRY moved down river we soon overtook MERSEY MAMMOTH to starboard, whilst to port the stone hopper barge VILLE could be seen making her way back from New Brighton to Birkenhead's Mortar Mill Quay for yet another load of stones for the new groyne construction work. Off Langton Lock the ChemTrans AG tanker CT SUN was overtaken to starboard.
There was no other traffic to be seen on the river as the KING made his way down the channel. At C1 tanker GRETE THERESA was passed heading inbound. The Bar was passed at 15:35. Beyond the Bar the journey was very uneventful. After about 17.00 the wind began to pick up and the KING began rolling somewhat. She kept her best roll until her turn on the final approach to Douglas! Some chap came staggering out of the Veranda Bar and parted company with his stomach contents over the port side life rafts!
The KING was actually alongside with ropes on the Victoria Pier at 18:45 exactly on time [4h.30m] despite the late departure from Liverpool. Disembarkation began a few minutes later
Saturday, February 21
08.30 DOUGLAS - LIVERPOOL
Commander: Captain Bridson
Winds: SW 3-4 Visibility: Moderate / Good - Showers
The morning at dawned damp and overcast with drizzle as I made my way along Douglas promenade to the Sea Terminal. When I arrived boarding had already commenced.
Thanks to Captain Bridson I was able to view quite a bit of this voyage from the bridge of KING ORRY. This adds another dimension to that seen from the sides or stern. Berthed in front of KING ORRY at Victoria pier was Ramsey Steamship Company's coaster BEN ELLEN which had arrived in the early hours of the morning. At the Edward Pier linkspan was PEVERIL which had arrived from Heysham. Its good to see PEVERIL back in service after being laid up at Cammell Lairds for so many months though she only has a few months left before being replaced by the new BEN-MY-CHREE.
At 08.25 a long blast was given on the KING ORRY's whistle. Ropes were off at exactly 08.30. The KING had a good load of 465 passengers and 118 vehicles on board. Standing on the port bridge wing Captain Bridson swung the KING to starboard off the pier and clear of the diminutive BEN ELLEN. As we moved out into the harbour we then gradually swung to port to pass through the harbour entrance. The sea was now very calm compared to the previous evening.
Eventually it stopped drizzling and slowly the skies began to clear. At around 10.15 two ships became visible someway off to starboard. One appeared to be on of the James Fisher managed nuclear carriers, which are owned by BNFL, this was heading eastbound, presumably to Barrow. Also visible was a fishing boat.
At 10.55 the large OSI [Off Shore Installation] was passed to port and by 11.00 we were abeam of the Hamilton Oil Douglas Platform to starboard. The Welsh mountains and Anglesey were now clearly visible. The Bar light float was passed at 11.30 and shortly afterwards P&O's BUFFALO passed outbound for Dublin on the port side.
A Royal Navy Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures vessel had also been approaching the Bar from the west. HMS BROCKLESBY [M33] fell in behind the KING ORRY following her up stream. Anchored at the Bar was a Stolt Tanker, plus another unidentified tanker and coaster.
As the KING made her way up the Queen's Channel it was now low water. Captain Bridson slowing the vessel down slightly, explaining that there was only around 5 metres of water under the hull. As we turned into Crosby Channel it was apparent why Mersey Radio's Notices to Mariner's had been reporting the "C6 Red Boat Beacon missing from station" it was sitting on the beach near Crosby!
As we approached the Prince's Landing Stage the Harker Oil Barge OAKDALE could be seen awaiting the KING's arrival. The first officer calling up the barge to advise that 50 tons would be required. Also in the river was the small naval training/patrol craft HMS CHARGER. She requested to Mersey Radio that she be allowed to drop off and pick up some passengers from the Landing Stage as it was their "families day". She was advised of the KING'S imminent arrival and after Captain Bridson spoke to Mersey Radio and the Commander of HMS CHARGER the little naval craft decided to wait off the stage until the KING ORRY had berthed. The KING swung to port and came easily alongside the stage, Captain Bridson making it look ever so simple. Ropes were on at 12.37, 23 minutes ahead of schedule.