The Liverpool Dublin service recommenced on Thursday 11 March and I was looking forward to another trip on SUPERSEACAT TWO, before she departs from Merseyside to reopen the former P&O Stena Line Newhaven Dieppe service in late April.
I arrived down at the Landing Stage, at around 09.30. SUPERSEACAT TWO was along side the stage. [She does not commence operations on the Douglas Liverpool service until next week]. Various changes have taken place at the Liverpool Terminal. In the waiting room the seating has been re-arranged and the coffee bar moved to create more space.
Departure from Liverpool was at 11.01 with 191 passengers and 27 cars. Shortly after leaving the stage the LADY OF MANN passed in bound on her 07.30 sailing from Douglas. Looking as superb as ever in the morning sunlight. I wish the camera motor drive had not been invented as in the few seconds it took her to pass I had shot off about 12 shots! To starboard MERSEY VIKING could be seen running down in the lock on her morning sailing to Belfast.
Passing New Brighton, the snow covered peaks of Snowdonia reflected the bright sunlight. Formby light float was passed at 11.42, Q2 at 11.44 and Q1 at 11.46.
We passed off Llandudno at 12.10. At 12.39 an east bound coastal tanker passed by followed some minutes later by an east bound freighter. At 12.56 off Wylfa DAWN MERCHANT passed east bound about a mile to the south on her 09.00 sailing from Dublin to Liverpool.
At 13.04 an in interesting vessel passed south eastwards. She looked like some kind of diving support vessel but I could not quite identify her name. A few minutes later another east-bound freighter was seen, this vessel appeared to have an ice breaking bow.
Skerries were passed at 13.18 and South Stack at 13.25, a few minutes later a small west bound tanker was overtaken. Out of the shelter of the Welsh coast sea conditions changed from a moderate to slight swell as the vessel encountered a strong south westerly wind. The chief officer announcing that the speed was 32knots.
A radio check with Dublin Port Radio at 14.23 announced that SSC2 was 30 minutes from the Baily. Kish light was passed to port and around the same time SSC2 overtook the inbound FEDORA. Heading out of Dublin Bay in a southerly could be seen a well loaded container ship. In Dublin Bay two cargo vessels could be seen at anchor, but I couldn't quite make out their names.
The CUXHAVEN passed outbound from Dublin 1t 15.00. Passing Poolbeg light at 15.04 speed was reduced for the final run up to the terminal. In the Merchant Ferries berth was the Belfast Freight Ferries SAGA MOON. Opposite at the container berth was COASTAL ISLE. On the south wall could be seen the JEAN CHARCOT an Oceanographic Survey vessel operated by LD Conocean.
SSC2 was on berth 49 at 15.20 some 25 minutes behind schedule. It was apparent that construction work was going on the quayside. This is to accommodate tracks for a new movable gangway system, which I understand, should be commissioned in June.
Despite a late arrival at Dublin a very quick turn around was effected which allowed SSC2 to let go at 15.54, six minutes early. As we came out of the channel HSS STENA EXPLORER could be seen departing from Dun Laoghaire on her 16.05 sailing to Holyhead, the vessel having only recently returned to service after holing herself at Dun Laoghaire over a week ago.
Once out of the shelter of Dublin Bay SSC2 encountered a beam sea which caused quite a lot of rolling whilst crossing St. George's Channel. The chief officer advising passengers to remain seated.
The Dublin Bay Buoy was passed at 16.11 and gradually the HSS gained on SSC2, and eventually drew ahead as she headed off on her south easterly track. At 16.51 STENA CHALLENGER passed west bound, followed by ISLE OF INISHMORE at 17.04.
It was dark by the time the Bar was passed at 19.17. An unidentified LPG tanker could be seen heading outbound followed by two other out bound vessels.
Just after slowing down at the Rock off New Brighton SSC2 overtook the laden Shell tanker SPECTRUM heading for Tranmere terminal.
SSC2 was on the stage at 20.00. There was a short delay before disembarking foot passengers, but this was probably due to the fact that the access to the linkspan is undergoing modification and it being safer to disembark vehicles first.
It was good to see SSC2 back on the Dublin even if it is only for a few weeks before SSCIII takes up the service. Performance on the out bound trip was a bit lack-lustre, but a smart turn round at Dublin put things back on schedule. One small grumble, the menus appear to have been altered What's happened to the Irish Stew and Yorkshire Pud?!