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Saturday March 4, 2000

On Saturday March 4 I made my first trip of the new season on SUPERSEACAT THREE. The route having reopened on February 25. some weeks earlier than in previous years.  

Whilst it wasn't a remarkable trip in terms of shipping interest, the return passage was noteworthy for its swift crossing with a berth to berth time of just 3hours and 35 minutes.

There have been a few changes on board SSCIII for this season. Catering is now done in-house by Sea Containers and consequently the Granada Little Chef and Franklin's of Boston food outlets are now the Global Café and Café Express with somewhat different menus. Being rather fond of chilli-con-carne I sampled this on both outward and return journeys and it was very good. On the return a rather large side salad appeared. I think someone in the kitchen must have over produced food given the low passenger numbers on the return sailing as special offers were announced "whilst stocks last" on a number of items on the final stages of the journey.

Entitlements for passengers travelling in the Blue Riband lounge have now returned to those offered on other Irish Sea routes. During much of 1999 members, or passengers upgrading received free tea/coffee soft drinks and biscuits, one alcoholic drink and a meal. Now the inclusive meal has been dropped and the second alcoholic drink reinstated.

An item of note on the upper open deck was the provision of side gates to allow loading by gangway onto the upper deck. Presumably this is for low water boarding from the piers at Douglas. 

For this voyage report I am trying a slightly different log type format. Not dissimilar to the way I record things.


09.50Arrived at Terminal which appeared quite busy for time of year. The waiting area was quite full by the time boarding commenced.
10.15Passenger boarding commenced. 

As appears quite common these days the steep gangway warning was broadcast to the passengers before boarding commenced. Whilst this is necessary at low water, it does appear rather silly, and attracts adverse comment, when it is done when the bridge is almost level! 

10.23Single Up
10.27Departed Princes Landing Stage.

Captain Marenco was in command.

Unfortunately a crackly radio meant I missed the passenger figure. Though I would estimate it to have been in the region of 250 to 300, possibly a few more. 

Royal Daffodil operating the Ferry Service

10.43Passed Rock and increased speed. As SSCIII began to make her way down the channel something which looked like a floating Blackpool Tower could be seen out near the Bar. It was obvious that this was non other than Falcon Drilling's DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR [formerly PEREGRINE VII]. A number of smaller outward bound vessels could be seen heading outwards in front of SSCIII as she rounded Crosby bend.
11.03Passed Q1 and left channel.
11.12An unidentified Chemical Tanker passed inbound around the time the DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR was passed to port.
11.35Great Orme's Head passed. Another inbound chemical? tanker passed in bound.
11.55Passed Lynas
12.20Passed Skerries and BRAVE MERCHANT in bound.
12.30South Stack
12.33HSS STENA EXPLORER passed eastbound for Holyhead on her late morning sailing from Dún Laoghaire.
12.40ISLE OF INISHMORE passed east bound for Holyhead on her 09.45 departure from Dublin.
13.25KONINGIN BEATRIX passed east bound for Holyhead on her 12.00 departure from Dublin. She is operating to different schedules to those operated by STENA CHALLENGER.
13.40Passed Kish light. GRANUAILE [III] could be seen working with buoys to the south of Dún Laoghaire.

VARBOLA passed east bound for Heysham. To the stern could be seen, someway off SAGA MOON.

14.12Ropes on at Dublin berth 46. - Crossing time 3h 45min

Running up to the berth COASTAL ISLE could be seen at the Coastal Container berth. Also on the container berth was JANE. on South Wall there was a large bulk carrier, though there was some confusion over her name as the name was in the process of being repainted!

Up stream was the small container vessel Rhine Master. At the petroleum berth lay the PETRO MERSEY

15.25Departed Dublin five minutes ahead of schedule with just 91 passengers. Somewhat less than that carried on DAWN MERCHANT when I travelled from Dublin on the 22.15 sailing on Friday March 25. 

Though the forward starboard saloon was closed off there still appeared to be adequate space for passengers to spread out. I was the sole occupant of the Blue Riband lounge.

As we cleared Poolbeg HSS STENA EXPLORER could be seen entering Dún Laoghaire.

15.48Passed North Burford buoy, reporting point Delta and set off back across St. George's Channel.
15.53Kish Light 
16.15Southbound cargo ship could be seen with an unidentified grey vessel, possibly a naval patrol vessel also passing in a southerly direction.
16.40ISLE OF INISHMORE passed east bound.
16.55South Stack
17.50Great Orme's Head
18.18Mersey Bar - DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR was now illuminated rather like Blackpool Tower during the illuminations. Later in the evening she was to proceed upstream to Cammell Laird, entering the wet basin on the tide.
18.22Entered channel at Q1
18.40Passed Brazil buoy off New Brighton and reduced speed
19.00Ropes on at Prince's Landing Stage.

Crossing time 3hours 35 minutes. 

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