I decided to ensure that I arrived down at Canada Dock early for what is likely to be my last sailing from the Canada Dock terminal.
NorseMerchant Ferries is due to switch to the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead later this year.
Though I had arrived early at Canada Dock there was already quite a queue of cars and passengers.
Entering the terminal I noticed a number of changes since my last trip with Norse Merchant in August 2001.
There is now a passenger information notice advising passengers of the time boarding commenced. When the on board restaurant opens, arrival time, sea conditions etc.
However, the information did not make sense!
Embarkation was indicated as being 10:30 Surely should have been 22:30? Restaurant was shown opening at 10:00.
Arrival was indicated at 6 am whilst sea conditions were indicated as "Moderate to Heavy". Goodness knows which weather forecast they had been watching. It wasn't the one I had checked a few hours before!
The passenger information board is obviously a good idea as it answers questions which passengers obviously waste staff time asking. However, such a notice only works if the information on it makes sense!
Check in close down time was also shown which may have been correct or may not have been!
It transpired that most of the passengers travelling belonged to the Celtic Vintage Vehicle Club or so the legend painted on a classic little Morris Van said!
There was a veritable collection of classics mainly from the 1950s and 60s though some were older. My Ford KA looking distinctly out of place.
The private vehicle compound was quite full by 20:00. Unusually DAWN MERCHANT was berthed bow on. These days it is unusual to see either of the "race horses" use their bow doors. On most of my recent journeys loading and discharge has been via the stern at both Dublin and Liverpool.
The reason for the unusual berthing was to allow some touching up of the paint work. Advantage was being taken of the fact that a daytime sailing is not offered on Sunday.
When embarkation commenced passenger cars were placed each side of the vehicle deck in two lines stretching into the area below the upper deck vehicle ramp. I must admit to being slightly apprehensive being tucked up right below the movable ramp with the car aerial almost touching the operating cables.
The driver who parked behind me in the green "Inspector Morse" style Jaguar said somewhat apprehensively "I hope that ramp doesn't move!"
Boarding of private cars had been staged. With early arrivals boarded around 20:20. I must admit I prefer being allowed on board early on an overnight sailing as it allows time to settle in. Staggered boarding also reduced pressure on the customer services staff in dealing with cabin allocations etc.
Unfortunately on the outward sailing I wasn't allocated an outside cabin. I had been told this when I booked last February. Usually I have not had a problem getting and outside cabin when booking so early. I imagine the vintage vehicle club must have made an early block booking!
The bar opened around 21:00, though the restaurant did not appear to open until 22:00. An earlier opening of the restaurant would be desirable. Not everyone likes to eat a large meal shortly before retiring for the night.
As usual with NorseMerchant the food in the Winning Post Restaurant was very good, I opted for an egg salad starter, followed by pork chops with veg for main course and fruit jelly for sweet.
I then retired to the Jockey Club Bar for a drink before wandering outside to watch our departure.
Over in Canada 2 Branch Dock could be seen EUROPEAN SEAFARER which had presumably arrived on Merseyside for attention to her recently reported engine problems.
At 22:46 the rope men singled up with ropes being let go at 22:52.
DAWN MERCHANT was secure in Langton Lock at 23:15. NORBANK was noted departing from Gladstone at 23:32
Ropes were let go in Langton at 23:35 and DAWN MERCHANT was clear of the lock at 23:40.
The Rock was passed at 23:45. Crosby light was passed to port at 00:05. SUPERSEACAT THREE passed in bound at 00:10 from Douglas.
Formby light was passed at 00:23 and Queen's Channel was cleared at Q2 at 00:26. I then wandered of to bed.
I was woken by the PA announcing that breakfast was now being served in the Winning Post restaurant. I wandered outside and noted that we passed the Kish light at 05:45.
Kish Passed 05:45.