|On Saturday May 19, BALMORAL operated a sailing from Whitehaven to Douglas and then offered an afternoon cruise to the Calf of Man before returning to Douglas via Port St. Mary. |
I first observed BALMORAL from SEACAT ISLE OF MAN having travelled over on the morning sailing from Liverpool. Up to this time I had not sailed on BALMORAL from Douglas.
As SCIOM entered Douglas Bay from the south BALMORAL was approaching down the coast from the north. She appeared to have a noticeable starboard list, indicating a large number of passengers standing on the starboard, coastal side. SCIOM was alongside the pier on time at 13:00 and I disembarked and proceeded to the departure lounge.
BALMORAL followed SCIOM into the harbour berthing on the outside of Victoria Pier at berth #4. She had carried a large number of passengers from Whitehaven, over 600, most of whom appeared to be disembarking at Douglas. Some would spend the afternoon in Douglas whilst others would take the steam railway down to Port St. Mary where they would rejoin the Balmoral.
Unloading took sometime and it was obvious that BALMORAL would not get away at the scheduled departure time of 13:30.
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN being scheduled to depart for Dublin at 14:00 it was obvious that some smart work would be needed especially as the BALMORAL had to load stores. Being low water it also meant that only the single passenger gangway off the upper bridge deck could be used.
A crew man appeared in the Sea Terminal departure lounge and called all those assembled for the BALMORAL cruise to follow him quickly through the departure gate as there was a danger that we would delay SCIOM's departure for Dublin.
With passengers on board SCIOM passengers were admitted to the Victoria Pier and it appears that two Dublin bound passengers found their way onto BALMORAL rather than SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. This resulted in an announcement being made that BALMORAL was operating an afternoon cruise and not going to Dublin!
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN appeared to get off slightly early though she only appeared to be carrying a low number of foot passengers
BALMORAL had also started moving before SCIOM has left the harbour and immediately followed her out to sea, leaving Douglas Harbour astern.
After changing course and direction BALMORAL headed off down the coast for an uneventful trip down to the Calf of Man. As BALMORAL approached the Calf Norse Merchant Ferries MERSEY VIKING could be seen on her slightly late running Liverpool to Belfast sailing.
BALMORAL turned after just passing Chicken Rock light around 15:20 and headed back towards Port St. Mary. Off Port St. Mary, Captain Davies turned BALMORAL over 180 degrees to line up for the approach to Port St. Mary Harbour where she made fast at 15:56.
BALMORAL then waited over 30 minutes until her scheduled departure time of 16:30 as passengers who had undertaken the steam railway trip wandered through the town and along the harbour.
One wonders why, given the later than scheduled departure from Douglas, the cruise was not continued beyond Chicken Rock to off Port St. Mary. Sitting in Port St. Mary just appeared to be a waste of time. If departure from Douglas had been on schedule at 13:30 one could imagine that BALMORAL could have remained alongside for around an hour at Port St.Mary.
Departure from Port St.Mary was at 16:30 with arrival alongside at Douglas at 17:30. All in all a very enjoyable trip. Just a shame about the time wasting at Port St.Mary!