LIVERPOOL - LLANDUDNO - MENAI BRIDGE & RETURN
Sunday June 07, 1998
Weather: Mainly sunny, but with several short burst of heavy rain. Visibility: moderate / good
The BALMORAL had been scheduled once again to depart from the Mersey Ferries section of the Landing Stage. When I arrived at the Pier Head the place was swarming with TT fans awaiting sailings to the Isle of Man.
BALMORAL remained at the layover berth at Seacombe Landing Stage. She moved off from Seacombe near to 10.00 though as she approached the stage the approaching SEACAT DANMARK appeared to jostle for manoeuvring space and with much blowing of horns BALMORAL moved away.
There was only a small group of passengers on the Landing Stage and boarding was soon completed, BALMORAL sailed with 144 on board. This being my first trip on board since her last visit to Merseyside in 1997.
She appeared much better presented, with the dining room looking much better for some fresh paint and the substitution of a light blue paint scheme as opposed to the previous sickly yellow. However, one thing that must be sorted out soon is the lavatories.
They are basic, tatty and crude. Not suitable for a vessel engaged in voyages on which some passengers may remain on board for 8 to 10 hours.
On leaving the stage at 10.19 [scheduled 10.00] BALMORAL headed down river. Some distance in front and steadily accelerating away could be seen the ACL ATLANTIC CONCERT. Passing Langton the liner EDINBURGH CASTLE could be seen having just arrived at the conclusion of a cruise.
At C21 P&O's EUROPEAN SEAFARER overtook BALMORAL heading for DUBLIN. Visible for some time and now approaching fast could be seen the distinctive lines of the LADY OF MANN. She passed inbound at C1 heading for the stage to pick up another load of TT fans. With the sun shining on her new paintwork she looked very impressive. Some distance astern SEACAT DANMARK could be seen heading outbound for the Isle of Man, however, she didn't catch up with BALMORAL before she had to change course for the island.
After the passing the Lady an uneventful journey to Llandudno followed. Though a couple of miles out from the pier the threatening cloud finally produced several minutes of exceptionally heavy rain. However by the time BALMORAL had berthed at 13.18 [18 minutes behind schedule the rain had gone off]. Some passengers disembarked to spend the afternoon while quite a few boarded for the afternoon cruise to Menai.
Departure from Menai was on schedule at 14.00. The voyage across to Puffin Island is always pleasant with the backdrop of the Snowdonia Mountains behind. Last Sunday, with a mixture of sun and heavy broken cloud it was more dramatic. Sailing close inshore to the northern side of Puffin Island the vast colonies of sea birds could be seen together with a couple of seals.
The BALMORAL passed round the west end of Puffin Island, passing the distinctive black banded lighthouse at Tywrn Ddu.
Passing Beaumaris with its well-preserved castle and Bangor BALMORAL reached a position just short of Telford's magnificent suspension bridge where she turned at 15.27. At around this time brief but heavy period of rain followed, this continued as we headed back towards Puffin Island but after passing Beaumaris it once again cleared up. Arrival back at Llandudno was at 16.50. Departure was eight minutes behind schedule at 17.08 and an uneventful journey to the bar followed.
There were a number of vessels at anchor at the Bar when BALMORAL returned. The large Chinese bulker BA-DA-LING, the tankers EASTGATE, PORT JONVILLE and STINA along with coasters BRITTA and an unidentified RMS coaster were at anchor awaiting the tide.
Arrival back at the Landing Stage was around 19.45 - fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.