I don't make many trips to Holyhead these days, with more than adequate services to Ireland now being offered from Merseyside.
However, On Sunday March 25 I found myself arriving at Holyhead just as 01.00 GMT was becoming 02.00 BST.
The reason for the journey was to take the last Holyhead to Dublin sailing of the ISLE OF INISHMORE and be in Dublin ready to return on the maiden voyage of the ULYSSES.
Since my last visit to Holyhead the new A55 road across Anglesey has opened. This dual carriageway now extends to within yards of the entrance of the port and certainly speeds up journey times across the island.
Arriving at Holyhead Port, things were rather quiet. The railway across Anglesey was closed for weekend maintenance. Consequently the platforms were deserted.
There were a few people waiting around the terminal entrance, but otherwise things were very quiet.
What had struck me on my arrival at Holyhead was the fact that there was no outbound traffic from the port. When ships arrive, one is used to see a stream of traffic leaving the port. I hadn't noticed this, and it was obvious that the ISLE OF INISHMORE had not arrived at 00:50 GMT as scheduled.
Time passed by and several other members of the Irish Sea Shipping Yahoo group appeared from such diverse locations as Glasgow, London and Merseyside.
Sometime after 03.00 vehicles could be seen exiting the port. The initial traffic being off STENA CHALLENGER which arrived at Holyhead as usual in advance of the ISLE OF INISHMORE.
The 03.30 BST ISLE OF INISHMORE departure time came and went. Passengers were finally called to check in around 04:00. There was just enough to almost fill the terminal bus which conveys passengers out to the Irish Ferries Salt Island Terminal in the outer harbour.
Instead of dropping passengers off at the Salt Island departure lounge which is linked to the ship by gangway the bus drove straight on board ISLE OF INISHMORE lower and almost empty vehicle deck.
Stopping to pick up a cabin key at reception I was advised that there would be a slight delay of before the cabins were ready. Obviously symptomatic of the need for a quick turn round to try and catch up with the timetable.
Proceeding with the other members of the Irish Sea Shipping Yahoo group climbed to the Dun Aengus Sky Lounge.
Departure was at 04:40 some 1 hour and 10 minutes behind schedule. Wandering outside the lights of Holyhead were left behind as ISLE OF INISHMORE passed South Stack.
Wandering down to the cabin having at 05:20 revealed that ISLE OF INISHMORE was passing STENA CHALLENGER which had departed from Holyhead slightly earlier.
Managing to get almost two hours sleep, I next looked out of the window around 07:05 as we passed Kish light. Rejoining the rest of the group in the Dun Aengus lounge ISLE OF INISHMORE appeared to be adopting something of s strange approach heading almost directly towards the Bailey and speed appeared to have been reduced.
In the lounge the steward was already stripping the drinks displays and optics in preparation for ISLE OF INISHMORE coming off service.
The vessel straightened up and resumed a normal approach into Dublin Bay.
Anchored in the bay could be the stone carrying vessels MARIE and VILLE owned by Sillanpaa OY of Finland and once again engaged in repair work on the Great South Wall.
Also at work near Poolbeg was the dredger PANTAGROULE [sp?]. The reason for the slight delay in making our final approach was solved as SEVERN FISHER of James Fisher & Sons Plc headed outbound and passed very close to ISLE OF INISHMORE. Poolbeg lighthouse was passed at 08:43
By now attention was drawn to the large shape which could be seen at berth 47. The largest ever passenger ship to fly the Irish Flag, the largest car ferry in the world [though P&O might disagree!], the M.V ULYSSES.
As ISLE OF INISHMORE moved onto berth 49 she made fast at 08:05, some 1 hour and 20 minutes behind schedule.
Making ones way down to the reception area on ready for disembarkation it was apparent that the crew were also gathering their belongings together as well as ship's stores ready for the change over.