Saturday May 20, 2000

The annual visit of the BALMORAL to the north west of England is an all too short event. However for just two days per year it is possible to rekindle the days of the former Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company and latterly Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sailings from Liverpool to North Wales. 

10:00 Liverpool to Menai Bridge and Return

228 passengers [Liverpool to Llandudno]

Captain Colledge


09:20Boarding commenced at the Mersey Ferries Landing Stage. BALMORAL had berthed on the south berth.

Shortly after boarding at 09:30 SEACAT ISLE OF MAN appeared off the landing stage arriving with the 07:30 sailing from Douglas.

10:02Ropes Off. The slightly late departure was to allow ROYAL DAFFODIL to get away from the north ferry berth on her 10:00 departure.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was by now preparing to board passengers.

10:23Passed Rock. The coastal container ship HEERSINGLE was swinging for Gladstone Lock with a good load of containers.
10:50SEACAT ISLE OF MAN passed outbound near C11 on her 10:30 Liverpool to Douglas sailing.

A few moments later a curious, squat vessel passed inbound - the SARA MAATJE. Anyone know of this little ship and its use? I imagine it could possibly haul a dredging plough.

11:10Cenargo's LAGAN VIKING on her morning sailing to Belfast could be seen rapidly gaining ground on the BALMORAL. Radio messages between Mersey Radio and LAGAN VIKING revealed that there were 74 passengers on board.
11:15LAGAN VIKING passed smartly past BALMORAL providing for an excellent photographic opportunity. Once well clear of BALMORAL she moved to starboard across our path and set off on her north westerly course.
11:26South of the Bar, Chemical Tanker ANNETTE THERESA passed inbound for Eastham.  Nearby and picking up their pilots from the pilot launch SKUA, which had passed BALMORAL earlier, were the Stolt tankers STOLT PETREL and STOLT DIPPER.

Further away a Trinity House vessel could be seen working alongside the BAR light float. It was just too far away to confirm the name but I think the vessel was THV MERMAID - can anyone confirm?

After passing the Bar the cloud thickened and what had been quite a sunny morning became quite dull and soon the rain started to fall. For the rest of the day, apart from some brief interludes it remained quite damp. 

13:10Arrival at Llandudno's ornate Victorian Pier was five minutes ahead of schedule. The BALMORAL was then scheduled to lay over until 14:00. This pause at Llandudno has been a feature on outward sailings from Liverpool for some years. I think its is so that the vessel can be seen by trippers and acts as a self advertisement for the short afternoon cruise to Menai and Puffin Island. The pause also provides an ideal time for passengers undertaking the full trip to have lunch in the dining room as it has usually gone quiet by then as the Llandudno passengers disembark. By the time I arrived some of the hot food had sold out, however it was still possible to have an acceptable chicken and chips. 
14:03BALMORAL set off for Menai Bridge passing close into the limestone cliffs of the Great Orme. On the cliffs can be seen the former Great Orme Lighthouse, an unusual castellated building, originally build for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, before passing into the ownership of Trinity House. Now, no longer in use it has been converted into a house, though its lantern room alongside the castellated building remains. Given the height of the cliffs - no tower was required at Great Orme light house.

On the outward leg we passed to the south of Puffin Island. It was interesting to note two tents pitched on the edge of the small shingle beach at the west end of the island - which is now a nature reserve and home to thousands of sea birds.



Just to the west of Puffin Island is the distinctive black and white Trwyn-Du



Running westwards along the straits BALMORAL passed Beaumaris with its distinctive castle on the starboard side,

The straits narrow as  Menai Bridge is approached. A yacht was observed, stranded at a peculiar angle, apparently having broken its moorings, against an islet.

15:15With the rain continuing to fall, just off Menai Bridge Landing Stage, and in shadow of Telford's great road bridge, the BALMORAL swung round to commence her journey back to Liverpool. Presumably a landing is not made at Menai Bridge to avoid berthing charges, though some years ago, passengers on BALMORAL's Liverpool to Menai sailings were allowed an hour or so ashore. However, the Menai Bridge landing stage is used for some of the sailings which originate in north Wales.

On the return run BALMORAL sailed around the north side of Puffin Island. The former Telegraph station, which formed part of a chain of 11 such stations linking Holyhead with Liverpool can be clearly seen. The optical [semaphore]  telegraph system enabled messages concerning in bound or outbound vessels passing Holyhead to be sent to or from Liverpool in around in just a few minutes. The system opened in 1826 and was replaced by an electric system in 1861.

16:42Ropes were on at Llandudno, BALMORAL being made fast at around 16:45. Here the passengers from Llandudno disembarked, whilst those who had travelled out in the morning to spend a damp day at Llandudno boarded for the return sailing to Liverpool.
17:05BALMORAL's ropes were let go and she moved out of the bay between the Great and Little Orme
18:35Bar passed in bound
18:50Approaching the Queen's Channel SUPERSEACAT THREE passed outbound for Douglas on her evening sailing from Liverpool. 
19:00Passed Q1 and entered channel
19:45Approaching the Rock and COASTAL SOUND passed outbound with a good load of containers, followed by the one of the Liverpool based Belgian trawlers ZEEJAYDERT
19:55Almost in the same position as the morning, the container vessel HEERSINGLE passed by this time outward bound, with no containers on deck. 
20:20BALMORAL berthed at the ferry landing stage south berth.

On the north berth was ROYAL DAFFODIL boarding revellers for a private party cruise.

BALMORAL remained at the Pier Head overnight before departing around 06:00. A correspondent noting her passing Crosby at 06:35 on May 21.

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