LADY OF MANN
08:30 Liverpool to Douglas February 23, 2001
by John H. Luxton
The reappearance of the LADY OF MANN on the Liverpool route for the whole winter period instead of a SeaCat was certainly welcomed. However, her schedules from November through to the first week in January were in many ways not particularly passenger friendly at least not from my own personal view point.
However, her revised schedules which have operated since the first week in January and which are also advertised for next winter appear much better, offering the facility of a round day trip from Liverpool on Fridays and a civilised departure time back to Liverpool on Sundays for those wanting to make a weekend of it on the Isle of Man. Unfortunately work prevented me from taking advantage of most of the Friday round trips, however, thanks to a holiday the final Friday round trip of the LADY'S winter programme was possible.
The LADY OF MANN departed from Prince's Landing Stage promptly at 08:30 on with 136 passengers on board under the command of Captain Duggan. As we moved away it was apparent that yet further metal work was being added to the Liverpool linkspan to accommodate the stern ramps of the RAPIDE which is due to enter service on Douglas and Dublin routes in the coming week. The LADY was running against the flood tide and into a north westerly wind.
Passing Langton Lock DAWN MERCHANT could be seen almost at dock level arriving from her obviously delayed overnight sailing from Dublin. Meanwhile at Gladstone Lock the freighter INDEPENDENCE was being assisted by a tug.
The Rock was passed at 08:45 proceeding down the channel the only inbound vessel was a Mersey Docks and Harbour company dredger, who I failed to Identify though was probably MERSEY VENTURE. Further ahead could be seen the Ugland's VLCC EVITA upon which the LADY OF MANN was rapidly gaining ground.
Leaving the channel at Q1 at 09:23 the Lady set course for Douglas, meanwhile, by now some distance off the Lady's port side the EVITA was overtaken as she headed off in a westerly direction.
A fairly uneventful crossing followed. The only vessel of note was a small fishing boat which the LADY appeared to adjust course to pass behind some way off Douglas. Shortly afterwards the island disappeared behind a dark grey cloud, which with the sun shining on it appeared darker than it really was. A short sleety downpour followed. However, we were soon out of it.
The LADY OF MANN arrived off berth #4 on the outside of Victoria Pier, Douglas at around 12:20. Ropes were on at 12:25 - five minutes ahead of schedule which was quite creditable considering the LADY had been running against the tide on her way out of Liverpool.
13:45 Douglas to Liverpool on February 23, 2001
After a brisk walk around the Harbour it was back to the Sea Terminal to check in for the return sailing. After the ahead of schedule arrival one wondered if the return would also be just as quick. However, things didn't quite end up that way.
The foot passenger gangway as removed at 13:41 and the LADY OF MANN prepared to return to Liverpool. Captain Albiston was in command for the return journey. He announced to passengers that the crossing time would be 3 hours and 50 minutes. With the LADY in apparently good form it appeared more than possible.
With 254 passengers on board at 13:45 ropes were let go and the LADY OF MANN's bow kicked away from the Victoria Pier looking as though a fast departure was in hand. However, after moving forward a few feet the bow appeared to be coming back towards the pier and the vessel's stern also moved back. One of the ropemen on the pier were heard to shout to the crew "You are supposed to be leaving!"
The LADY now ran down the outside of the Victoria Pier with about a two foot gap between the ship and Pier followed by the ropemen. As the end of the pier was reached her engine speed increased and she made a turn out into the open sea. No doubt the gusty north westerly wind was responsible for this change in departure style.
Once underway and with the wind behind it became pleasantly warm on the starboard deck in the sunshine, and quite a few passengers were noted on deck for much of the journey. At 15:00 someway to the north west SeaTruck's MOONDANCE could be seen heading from the north west on her morning sailing Warrenpoint. Whilst SeaTruck have not yet repainted MOONDANCE in their new livery as yet it remains easy to identify which of the two SeaTruck ferries is which even from several miles distance!
To the south west could be seen the familiar lines of NorseMerchant Ferries SAGA MOON operating a Heysham to Dublin sailing.
Someway north of the Liverpool Bar looking forward through binoculars revealed the distinctive bulk of the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR heading in bound for Liverpool on the 10:30 sailing from Dublin.
By now there was a good swell running, but it was a following sea and the LADY rolled pleasantly which didn't appear to cause any discomfort for any of the passengers.
The Liverpool Bar light float was passed at 16:45 and the LADY OF MANN entered the channel at Q1 at 16:50. As the LADY made her was up Queen's Channel EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR could be seen already around the Crosby bend and heading up Crosby channel and gaining on BRAVE MERCHANT.
However, about halfway along Queen's Channel the LADY's speed was reduced and we continued the journey up river at a more steady pace dictated by the probably sea and wind conditions.
At 17:24 Estonian Shipping Company's CELTIC SUN which is chartered to P&O headed outbound for Dublin as the Lady made her final run up the river EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR could be seen in Gladstone Lock and BRAVE MERCHANT in Langton Lock.
The LADY OF MANN finally had her ropes on at Prince's Landing Stage at 18:04 some nineteen minutes behind schedule. So much for an early arrival. But I guess most ship enthusiasts wouldn't grumble at a few extra minutes on the wonderful LADY OF MANN!