I arrived at the Pier Head at around 09.45 fully expecting to see SUPERSEACAT TWO already berthed and unloading after her morning run from Douglas. However, she was only just berthing so I presumed that she had been delayed leaving Douglas. I was due to meet two good friends of mine who would be joining me for the day. Dave Worth, Editor of Manxlink magazine and a fellow contributor of mine to the same magazine, Ted Capstick.
I have sailed on SSC2 on many occasions last year, but for Dave and Ted this was their first trip. Both of them were dubious as whether they would enjoy the trip as they have both sampled the "delights" of SEACAT DANMARK and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and have never been too impressed.
Watching the disembarkation of the passengers and cars from the Isle of Man gave a hint of why she might have been late. She appeared to be quite full, the cars disembarking first and the passengers having to wait. This method of disembarking at the stern for foot passengers has never been satisfactory, presumably the new ship may have a side exit for foot passengers. [The delay appears to be caused by the work being carried out on the link span which constricts the linkspan to stage link last season passengers and vehicles loaded and discharged simultaneously J.H.L.]
It was obvious from the hustle and bustle in the terminal that the crossing to Dublin was going to be busy, but the staff dealt with tickets and boarding cards very efficiently. We boarded the ship just aft 10.40. The weather could not have been better and SSC2 departed from the stage at 11.07, just a few minutes late. The outside deck was well occupied for the run up the river. Of course when the ship picks up speed many people go inside but many stay out for longer periods savouring the fresh air whilst countless passengers come up on deck for shorter periods.
The outside deck is an essential part of the seagoing experience and the designers of the ship and Sea Containers should be rightly praised for incorporating this into their new ships. I am very glad they didn't go down the Stena HSS path as these ships hardly have any outside deck space at all.
The run up the channel and along the Welsh coast was smooth and uneventful. There were a few ships waiting at the Bar, but visibility was not that good and identification was not possible. The crossing of St George's Channel was smooth and swift, the conditions were ideal for SSC2 and she was making the most of it.
The opinion of my two companions as to the merit of SSC2 was slowly becoming more and more positive as the day wore on. We came alongside at Dublin Port at 14.30, a very creditable performance. Whilst the ship had been fairly full and there were queues for food and drinks the crew worked very hard to ensure inconvenience was kept to a minimum.
At Dublin SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was noted at her usual berth whilst Belfast Freight Ferries SAGA MOON was noted docking at the Merchant Ferries terminal after her voyage from Heysham.
On the return trip there was a much light load, it being so much easier to get food and drink! On passing Poolbeg it was noted that the HSS STENA EXPLORER was departing from Dun Laoghaire on her crossing to Holyhead. SSC2 kept company with her for well over an hour and as I watched her from the promenade deck of SUPERSEACAT TWO I knew which vessel I would rather be on. Later ISLE OF INISHMORE and STENA CHALLENGER were observed heading for Dublin.
During the crossing the first officer kindly kept passengers informed of the score from the England vs. Poland game as well as informing us that we were sailing at 43 knots as we passed the Skerries. A very impressive performance and still pleasant on the outside deck!
We berthed at the Pier Head at just on 19.15. The ship impressed my companions. As one of them pointed out she has the feel of a real ship which perhaps you don't get as much on the original Incat built SeaCats. For my part although I find the LADY OF MANN and the BEN-MY-CHREE more relaxing to sail on the SUPERSEACAT TWO can also be a pleasure to travel on although I do realise that the weather conditions were ideal for her on this particular day.