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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond
Voyage Report: Sea Containers


by John H. Luxton

Friday 24 July 1998

08.15 Liverpool - Dublin

Captain Padevan

23.00 Dublin - Liverpool

Friday 24 July 1998

Captain De Sanctus

Arriving at the Liverpool sea terminal, with my father who was accompanying me on this trip, at around 07.00 there appeared to be a good few people already in the waiting room.

Boarding commenced at around 07.40. Singling up commenced at 08.07. Whilst waiting for departure the Cory Tug YEWGARTH could be seen waiting in the river for the in bound Russian Liner ASTRA 1.

Departure from Liverpool was a couple of minutes ahead of schedule at 08.13 with 673 passengers and 72 vehicles. The Rock being passed at 08.26. At this point the ASTRA 1 became visible coming round Crosby bend. ASTRA I was passed at 08.36.

SUPERSEACAT TWO left the channel at 08.45 at Q2 buoy. A number of vessels were seen at or near the Bar. The largest of which was the bulker NOMADIC PRINCESS.

The ARKLOW VALOUR passed by heading east bound for the Mersey at 09.14. A large eastbound container vessel could be seen, close to the Anglesey shore some distance to the south, presumably the CITY OF SALERNO [Zim Israel Navigation Co.] that was due at Gladstone Lock at 13.00.

Passing 8 miles north of Anglesey, South Stack light was passed at 10.23 a couple of minutes later a large beam trawler could be seen.

The ISLE OF INISHMORE passed eastbound at 11.07 closely followed by STENA CHALLENGER at 11.12.

Approaching Dublin Bay, the distinctive Dublin Corporation's SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE could be seen some miles to the south on another sludge dumping voyage.

HSS STENA EXPLORER passed eastbound heading out of DUN LAOGHAIRE at 11.29. Arrival at Dublin was a couple of minutes ahead of schedule at 11.58.

At the Merchant Ferries berth MERCHANT VENTURE could be seen loading.

For the first time we travelled into the on the Bus Éireann coach service to the Busáras in Connolly Street. [On other trips I have either brought the car or gone straight back] Of course I didn't bother to check the return time and didn't realise there was only one departure, which timed to connect with the earlier Irish Ferries sailing at 21.45. Consequently arriving back at the Busáras at 21.05 I soon found out that the coach had departed at 21.00. However, a taxi was quickly found and for two people the fare didn't turn out to be that much more than the bus fare for two people.

After getting off the coach I crossed the road to Connolly Station where I bought a DART [Dublin Area Rapid Transit] one-day run-about ticket. These tickets cost IR£3.50 for Adults or £6.00 for Two adults and up to four children - excellent value, these cover the DART and other suburban rail services.

Boarded a southbound DART train my father and I headed to south to Dun Laoghaire. The railway passes close to the shore for much of the way from Strand Road Level Crossing near Sydney Parade Station through to Dun Laoghaire. At this point SUPERSEACAT TWO could be seen accelerating out into the bay.

During the day I made a point of ensuring we called at the National Maritime Museum, which is housed in the former Mariner's Church at Haig Terrace, Dun Laoghaire. This is the first time I have managed to visit the museum as on most of my trips to Dun Laoghaire - it has been closed. [The Museum is closed on Mondays this year].

The Museum, run by the Maritime Institute of Ireland, is well worth a visit. The displays are dominated by the massive working optic from the Baily Lighthouse across the bay and which forms the centre piece of the display based on the Commissioners of the Irish Lights whose headquarters are short distance away in Dun Laoghaire harbour.

Other displays include:

Brunel's Great Eastern, with a superb model showing the ship in cable laying configuration, supported by many photographs and artefacts belonging to Captain Halpin.

Marconi and the development of the transatlantic radio service.

The Irish coastal rescue service, complete with cart, breeches buoy and other rescue equipment.

 The centre of the ground floor is occupied by an excellently preserved French Longboat, abandoned in Bantry Bay after the abortive French naval landing in support of Wolfe Tone's United Irishmen during 1796.

Also on the ground floor is an excellent selection of ship models including a number of Irish Merchant ships and ferries.

 Up in the gallery there is an excellent display charting the development of the Irish Naval Service, again including models, artefacts and uniforms. Maintaining the military theme, there is a small display of items relating to Admiral William Browne, the Irish seafarer responsible for founding the Argentine Navy and material relating to the role of the neutral Irish merchant fleet during WWII or "The Emergency" as it was known in Ireland.

 The role of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is also recorded along with a selection of items salvaged from the Mersey built White Star Line ship TAYLEUR. When constructed in 1853, The TAYLEUR was the largest ship built in England. Costing £34,000 she was constructed by Tayleur's of Bank Quay, Warrington. She was wrecked on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Australia, off Lambay Island, north of Dublin Bay.

Up in there is an example of some of Ireland's earliest craft a coracle, of similar design to that found across the Irish Sea in Wales.

All in all, a visit to this excellent museum is highly recommended. I will be posting some photographs of some of the more interesting exhibits in due course.

After leaving the museum a walk along the Dun Laoghaire East Pier, unfortunately just a little too late to see the departure of HSS STENA EXPLORER's afternoon sailing to Holyhead was in order before heading back to Dun Laoghaire Station.

Catching a southbound train the railway swings away from the coast, but dramatically regains the coast high on the cliffs north of Killiney. The railway then descends to Bray, the terminal of the electric DART service.

Opposite the station is the Bray Wanderers Football Ground, movie buffs will quickly recognise this as the representation of Croke Park GAA Ground, Dublin scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre depicted in Neil Jordan's recent film biography "Michael Collins".

Bray itself has a very small harbour to the north and a long promenade just east of the railway station being a popular seaside resort.

After a quick wander along the promenade it was time to jump back on the train and head for the north side of Dublin Bay. The evening rush hour was dying off and the trains were becoming quiet again. At the north end of the DART is Howth station.

The terminus at Howth was once the start of the Great Northern Railway's Hill of Howth Tramway, which closed in the 1950s. One of its cars is preserved in the nearby Transport Museum, which I visited a few years ago, another is kept at the Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire.

The harbour at Howth is interesting from a Maritime point of view as this was developed as the original packet port for Dublin at the start of the 19th Century. However, difficult access for vessels meant that its role as a packet port was very short lived with the development of Dun Laoghaire Harbour commenced in 1814. Today its harbour is home to a large number of fishing vessels. Boat trips are available to the island of Ireland's Eye just to the north. Howth also appears to be a popular place for pubs and restaurants, with part of the station being turned into a pub since I was last there three years ago.

One of the buildings near the harbour has a rather faded milepost of identical design to those still to be seen along stretches of Telford's London - Holyhead road [A5] recording the distance to Dublin.

I arrived back at the Dublin terminal at around 21.30. Irish Ferries ISLE OF INISHMORE was at the berth loading for her 21.45 departure to Holyhead. SSC2 had had a good run from Liverpool and was already reported in the bay awaiting the INISHMORE's departure. Thanks to Justin Merrigan who was on duty at the Dublin Terminal I was able to go out onto berth 49 and photograph ISLE OF INISHMORE's departure and SSCII's arrival at Dublin on the 18.00 from Liverpool. The light was rapidly failing but I think there was just enough light for viable photos. If so they will be on-line soon.

SUPERSEACAT TWO departed ahead of schedule at 22.48 with just 221 passengers on board. Apparently loadings outbound from Dublin are expected to be low for the next few days as the higher summer fares ex-Dublin have been introduced and many outbound passengers will have arranged to travel out earlier to beat the increase.

Just before moving off a small container vessel passed by heading upstream. On leaving Dublin, an ETA in Liverpool at 02.30 was expected.

An uneventful crossing followed. Heading east bound the lights of the ISLE OF INISHMORE's rear sun lounge could be seen slowly getting closer. SSC2 passed her some miles off South Stack. Skerries light was passed at 00.22, and Llandudno could be seen quite clearly at 01.07.

A radio check at the Bar at 01.34 advised a revised ETA at the stage of 02.10. However, as SSC2 approached up channel messages began coming in on channel 0 the Marine emergency search and rescue channel. New Brighton lifeboat was out and the Merseyside Police Helicopter.

SSC2 was requested to slow down well before reaching the Rock the usual deceleration point, because of an ongoing search for a possible body in the water. P&O's chartered LEMBITU was swinging up channel to gain access to Gladstone Lock on completion of her crossing from Dublin.

The coastguard explaining what had happened gave out a good explanation on the radio. There had been a row in a New Brighton pub, which had resulted in a man being injured and cutting his hand. He ran outside stating that he was going to wash his hand in the sea and had not been seen since. Whilst no one had seen him enter the water there were concerns for his safety, hence the search.

The Police helicopter scanned the water with its Night-Sun light and used a Thermal Imaging camera, though claimed to be only picking up the lifeboat crew. SSC2 very slowly made her way past New Brighton; the lifeboat launch tractor could be seen on the promenade with its blue lights flashing, along with a police vehicle.

As we passed the helicopter abandoned the search, as it was having no success.

SSC2 finally berthed at 02.25 still a good 25 minutes ahead of schedule. In fact we were so early whilst the rope men were present, the security staff were not. Consequently the foot bridge link to the stage was still closed as was the baggage reclaim, passengers having to leave the stage via the road bridge. The security staff finally arriving in a taxi. Obviously not used to SSC'2 early arrival after quite a lot of late running recently!


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