The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

About ISSContactContentVoyage ReportsISS Amazon Shop
PhotographsFeaturesShip AISShips on FilmNews
Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond




Saturday May 13, 2000

[Or will the real John Luxton - please stand up!?]

The reason for the slightly strange sub heading will be come apparent as you read on!

The weather on Saturday turned out to be almost perfect for a day at sea, except for the poor visibility particularly off the Isle of Man which hindered long-range views. 

I arrived at Heysham Port just as the BEN-MY-CHREE had berthed, though disembarkation had not commenced. It was obvious that the coach tour season was well underway with Shearings vehicles lined up on the terminal forecourt.

Boarding commenced shortly after 13:30. Oddly despite there being a number of coaches travelling, they were noted not to be well filled, this combined with quite a few passengers in the departure lounge suggested that the BEN-MY-CHREE would be quite full. However, this didn't prove to be the case with a passenger loading of just 150 being reported to Liverpool Coastguard on departure.

I made my way up to the Blue Riband lounge where I made a rather interesting discovery. Apparently, I had been on the BEN-MY-CHREE on May 11 and didn't know about it!

I jest of course and I will explain.  It is practice for members of the Blue Riband Club to sign in the members book. - But there was my name and details - not of course in my handwriting but that of some impostor with an entry for May 11. In fact the handwriting looked rather similar to that of another entry made that same day probably someone had chosen to adopt my identity to cover for an unauthorised guest!

In recent months the company has been tightening up on checks on passengers travelling in the lounge on the BEN. In the past, given that the BEN-MY-CHREE has a member controlled access door activated by membership cards there has, until recently, been a tendency to leave members to their own devices unlike on the SeaCats. However, crew are now quite vigilant and check members either before entering or come around a little later. 

When the steward came round to check the membership cards I pointed the entry in the book out and he went off to get the CSO. She told me that though things had been tightened up and regular membership lists issued to the ships there were known to be people getting access to the lounge. Some of whom were members who had failed to renew and others were people bringing in unauthorised guests.

Given the increased vigilance of the crew, one must assume that possibly some people have let themselves, or an unauthorised guest,  after the vessel has sailed and in this case just picked a name at random from those in the book and entered it - hoping to bluff any challenge. Of course I was rather miffed to find it had been myself! However, if I had travelled on May 11 the impostor would have had quite a shock!

Perhaps one way of reducing the problem of outdated membership cards being used would be to fit a lock similar to those increasingly found in hotels which are operated by cards, programmed to work between specific dates. That way at least only current members could enter, though there would still remain the problem of unauthorised guests being brought in. 

Given the number of journeys I make on Sea Co vessels each year, I find BR Club membership is a cost effective way of obtaining my refreshments and having a pleasant travelling environment in which to relax. Relaxation being my main reason of course for travelling in the first place!  After paying my hard earned cash for myself and also my parents to enjoy these facilities, when they travel with me, I am non too pleased to find someone getting and using my identity.

On my return to Heysham on Saturday evening I decided to add a little note to the members' book by my name and draw an arrow up the page to the forged entry. At least it should draw attention to what has happened and avoid it happening to other genuine members.

After my grouse about Blue Riband lounge access abuse, I must say I was rather impressed by the new fresh ground coffee machine. So much more of an improvement than the old Scanomat.


14:15 Heysham to Douglas: 

150 passengers

Captain Moore

14:15After having sounded her horn a few minutes before the BEN-MY-CHREE moved off her berth and nosed her way through the mouth of Heysham Harbour. With low water approaching sandbanks either side of the channel were very prominent. 
14:45Passing the Wyre Light at the entrance to the Wyre Channel off Fleetwood two vessels could be seen. One a low air draught coaster the LAURA and another freight vessel LOYAL TRADER.
14:50BEN passed and outbound trawler with nets deployed and shortly after inbound vessel. This, surrounded by gulls, had apparently ceased fishing but the deck hands were obviously working with the catch and attracting the gulls' attention! 
15:00Approaching the Lune Buoy another trawler which appeared to have a Silloth registration was passed. In the vicinity of the Lune Buoy could be seen a number of yachts obviously taking advantage of the superb conditions. A few motor boats were also nearby, with people to be seen on fishing expeditions. 
15:03Lune Buoy passed.
15:30Unidentified Sea Truck vessel passed by to the south on the morning sailing from Warrenpoint to Heysham.

During the course of the voyage some of the deck crew took the opportunity of the fine weather to wash down the BEN's fo'csle with a pressure washer and fire hose.

17:10The next vessels of any note was the unusual convoy comprising PIRELLI's cable ship GIULIO VERNE which was a short distance ahead of MAERSK TRADER, this vessel was in turn attached by hawsers to Stolt Line's SEAWAY EXPLORER which was itself attached to the plough which is being used to cover what will be the world's longest under sea electricity transmission cable. The cable starts at Port Skillion, adjacent to Douglas Head Lighthouse on the Isle of Man and will end at Bispham, Lancs., in the UK.
17:30The Isle of Man had been shrouded in mist for much of the approach, but by now the outline of the coast was becoming clearer. As the BEN-MY-CHREE entered Douglas Bay, gas tanker LOTTA KOSAN was riding at anchor.

Approaching the Victoria Pier, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN could be seen on the outside of the Pier with Waverley Steam Navigation Company's BALMORAL loading passengers for her return excursion sailing to Whitehaven. 

17:40Ropes were ashore, whilst the BALMORAL cleared her gangways and made a speedy departure across Douglas Bay with a good load of passengers apparent on deck clearly enjoying the fine weather. 

Once again another superb crossing and despite what appeared a slightly slower departure from Heysham, presumably due to the very low tide, the BEN arrived at Douglas 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

After disembarking I decided to wander along the promenade and after a coffee and snack at the Sefton Hotel wandered back to the Sea Terminal.

[Any ship enthusiasts who have found Sefton's upstairs cafe bar an pleasant place to watch the goings on over at the Sea Terminal will be somewhat disappointed with some new development work at the Sefton.

 The Cafe-Bar along with the restaurant is being moved downstairs to allow the present area to be used for some de-luxe suites. This work has already started and part of the upstairs is already closed off. No more panoramic views of the bay whilst drinking or eating! ]

As per usual on Saturday evenings when the BEN-MY-CHREE is scheduled to depart from Douglas slightly later,  on arrival back at the Sea Terminal the crew appeared to be on deck undertaking safety drills.

20:00 Douglas - Heysham

Captain Kelly

126 Passengers

20:03On the return journey there appeared to be quite a few returning rally cars, support vans and trailers returning from the Steyr-Puch Manx Rally. 

The BEN was away just slightly behind schedule.

20:20SUPERSEACAT THREE passed in bound, port side, for Douglas on the 18:30 sailing from Liverpool.

Around the same time the cable laying convoy was quickly overtaken.

22:05Sea Truck's evening Heysham to Warrenpoint sailing passed west bound on the starboard side.
22:33SUPERSEACAT TWO passed to port with the evening Heysham - Belfast sailing. Her first round trip of the day having been cancelled.
22:35Lune Buoy


22:47P&O Vessel, which I wasn't able to identify passed outbound.
23:05BEN-MY-CHREE passed Heysham #1
23:17The harbour was entered. VARBOLA was on #3 span with MERCHANT BRAVERY was at #2 span.
23:28Ropes on.

Crossing time 3 hours 25 minutes

All in all a very pleasant day out apart from discovering some dishonest individual has been pretending to be me!

Visit for Transport, Industrial Heritage & Regional Digital Photographs and Growing Online 35mm Archive

Irish Sea Shipping - What's New July 2008Irish Sea Shipping - What's New August 2009Back Home Up Next 

Irish Sea Shipping John H. Luxton 1995-2018. Content John H. Luxton and Contributors