SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was late off Prince's Landing Stage at 10:50 due to high passenger and vehicle numbers. Quite a few vehicles having to be held by the terminal building until the outgoing vehicles on the stage had been boarded. Total figures were: 397 passengers and 72 vehicles aboard.
MERSEY VIKING was running down in Langton Lock on her morning sailing to Belfast, whilst at Gladstone Lock, EUROPEAN ENVOY was running down for her sailing to Dublin.
In Seaforth, container vessel CITY OF GLASGOW was visible. Passing down the channel Esco's CELTIC SUN passed in bound for Gladstone with the P&O early morning sailing from Dublin.
Once out in Liverpool Bay the wind was blowing SW 5 to 6 and providing a lumpy ride which prompted the captain to advise passengers to remain seated for part of the journey. It wasn't particularly bouncy and passengers didn't appear to pay much attention.
Out in Liverpool Bay a new jack-up platform had appeared - I couldn't identify it - it appeared to have a silver grey hull livery.
An uneventful crossing to Douglas followed with ropes on at 13:32 some 32 minutes behind schedule. As passengers disembarked an announcement was made that the side seating areas were to be closed off and all cleaning concentrated on the central saloon prior to the 14:00 departure for Dublin. The announcement having some urgency as it was stated that the vessel would sail again in 20 minutes.
I had planned to take a trip on the Isle of Man Railway to Port Erin using the 14:00 departure. However, the late running of SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and the fact I had managed to find myself near the end of the disembarking queue meant a very brisk walk down to the station where I managed to board the train headed by 2-4-0 Tank Beyer Peacock locomotive G.H. Wood, just as the guard was closing the doors.
It appears that next year the operation of this last extensive 3ft gauge line in the British Isles will be confined to a short shuttle to Santon and in 2003 the section between Douglas and Castletown.
The reason for the two year closure is due to the route of the track being used for the Iris pipeline and it is also being sold to the public as an opportunity to relay the track and increase running speeds possibly with a view to the introduction of a commuter service.
The journey down to Port Erin was quite pleasant, but the prospects of quiet contemplation of the beautiful scenery was interrupted by a chatty fellow traveller from Northern Ireland. He was already in the compartment when I boarded.
My fellow travelling companion appeared to be on a day out from his job at the Mount Murray Hotel and appeared to have a lot to say! Spotting the camera bag and green jacket he struck up conversation presuming I was a bird watcher at first. I explained that my main interest was transport and shipping in particular.
Somehow in the one hour journey to Port Erin everything from the woes and intrigues of Manx and Northern Irish politics and business to the cost of cinema, airline and ship tickets appeared to be explored along with recent Manx Movies and his unfavourable impressions of the late Ian Bannan the star of the Manx film "Waking Ned". !
Despite the gossip I did manage to spot MERSEY VIKING passing off Port St. Mary bound for Belfast. But that was the only relief!
As the train ran into the Port Erin terminus it had barely stopped when he dived out of the compartment door forgetting I was behind and slamming it shut! I must admit by now I felt quite exhausted and hurried off to the station buffet to unwind over a pot of tea and a slice of fruit cake!