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Saturday April 8, 2000

I arrived down at the Liverpool terminal to find it quite busy with the vehicle marshalling area almost full and quite a few passengers in the waiting room.

It was interesting to note that on the outward journey on April 8 there were 312 passengers - just six less than the number noted on the equivalent day [Saturday April 10] last year. Considering there are now no Duty Free "booze-cruisers" and the odd ferry enthusiast travelling on £10 discount tickets and swelling the passenger figures, the numbers appeared reasonable.

However, the day was rather disappointing in terms of observing other vessels, with visibility being moderate to poor for almost the whole day after passing the Mersey Bar, despite the fact that the sun made regular appearances in particular on the return voyage. 

On the return journey there was a great discrepancy on passenger numbers with only 235 being noted on April 8 as opposed to 536 passengers on the same sailing last year. However, last year the weekend marked the end of the Easter School holidays which would probably have distorted figures. This year, Easter is much later, thus comparisons are not completely fair.

08:00 Liverpool - Dublin

312 Passengers - 55 Vehicles

07:53Single Up
07:57Let Go
08:12Passed Brazil buoy, increased speed
08:21Crosby Light Float
08:28Formby Light Float - an unidentified fishing vessel could be seen to port outside the main channel.
08:30Q1 - Cleared channel
08:35Passed north of Bar light float, not such a common occurrence on Dublin sailings, before altering course to head across Liverpool Bay. Three vessels were noted at anchor south of the Bar. 
08:53Small cargo vessel CORALLI of T Jacobsen & Co. of Norway was seen turning to port - possibly heading off towards the Dee Estuary
09:38Anglesey was cloaked in mist around 10 miles due south. First officer reported to passengers that wind was WSW 15 knots and that SSCIII was running at 38 knots. 
10:50Merchant Ferries BRAVE MERCHANT passed around half a mile to the south heading for Liverpool on the 09:00 sailing from Dublin
11:05Royal Navy Archer Class coastal training craft A163 HMS EXPRESS  and A167 HMS EXPLOIT passed across the bows heading in a South Easterly direction.
11:07EUROPEAN LEADER passed eastbound for Liverpool.
11:10Kish light could be seen through the mist. Also to be seen was HSS STENA EXPLORER which at this time should have been leaving Dún Laoghaire was actually making her final approach somewhat behind schedule.
11:20Passed of Baily at reporting point Charlie
11:27HSS STENA EXPLORER entered Dún Laoghaire harbour
Wandering out on to the open deck as SSCIII made her way across Dublin Bay, I overheard to women talking, the conversation suggests that some people have a low boredom threshold and even fast ferries are not fast enough.

One woman said: "I feel as though I have been on this boat for hours!" to which her friend replied on seeing the HSS run into Dún Laoghaire, "We should have driven to Holyhead it would have been quicker." 

As SuperSeaCat Three ran up the channel Estonian Shipping Company's VARBOLA was noted at the Merchant Ferries terminal loading for Heysham.

JONATHAN SWIFT was loading at berth 49. On the Container berths 

At the P&O terminal could be seen CELTIC STAR which had arrived earlier from Liverpool.

11:49Ropes on. But SSCIII's stern appeared to bounce of the fenders causing a stern  rope to part, there was a loud crack and as I wandered over to the port side the remains of the rope could be seen round the mooring bollard. However, a second rope was soon put over the side and SSCIII berthed. 

Crossing Time: 3hours  51minutes

The Dublin terminal building appeared quite busy, though I think that is probably more indicative of its small size than overall numbers travelling. Boarding commenced at around 12:35. On rejoining SSCIII I wandered back up to the Blue Riband lounge and found  Justin Merrigan, The See Breezes Ferry Correspondent and once a familiar figure at the Dublin terminal until moving to fast ferry builders Incat where he is now Public Relations Manager.

Accompanying Justin on the visit to SSCIII was no other than "Mr Incat" himself Robert Clifford, founder and chairman of the Tasmania based fast ferry builders.

13:00 Dublin to Liverpool

235 Passengers

12:53Ropes were let go
13:17Passed Delta buoy and departed Dublin Bay
Visibility was very poor for most of the crossing, though for long periods SSCIII appeared to be bathed un sunlight. 
15:30An unidentified James Fisher coaster was overtaken.

Radio traffic with Mersey Radio revealed that STENA CALEDONIA was in Liverpool Bay to the north of the Bar adjusting compasses. She had just departed Cammell Laird after refit and SOLAS upgrade.

16:11Passed C23 and reduced speed.
16:35 Ropes on at Landing Stage

Crossing time: 3hours 32 minutes.

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