I arrived at the Sea Terminal around 06:45 and was one of the first vehicles to arrive. Vehicles were taken down to the landing stage shortly after 07:00 with boarding commencing around 07:30.
This was my first trip on SuperSeaCat Three since her reintroduction on the Irish Sea. Arriving in the Blue Riband Lounge there a number of changes were noted. The former blue upholstery of the seats had been replaced by leather. The table tops having been replaced by rather gaudy stainless steel coloured material serving to create a utility appearance. The table tops appear to be a little narrower than their predecessors. Miniature waste bins sit on each table.
The lounge has also been divided to provide a first class area occupying the port side and a Blue Riband members only area on the starboard. The Blue Riband area being separated from first class by a curtain.
Whilst I can see some advantages to this subdivision of the lounge I think a common first class Blue Riband area would be better or alternatively a solid bulk head be provided to reduce noise permeating from 1st Class Area. It is not good having the Blue Riband area as a quiet lounge with no children permitted if a baby can be taken into First Class and then proceed to exercise its lungs for part of the journey as I discovered on my return sailing.
Out on the open deck there have been no changes. The gate to the centre section has been secured. Though I understand that when SUPERSEACAT THREE operated on the English Channel last season access to this area was permitted. Over the years various excuses have been offered for precluding access including the fact that the area is a designated helicopter winching area. However, I an increasingly inclined to think that it is kept closed to reduce the amount of deck cleaning required!
Probably due to increased security a notice advises that access to the bridge is restricted to bridge crew only except in emergency when an illuminated sign above the door is switched on.
Departure 08:15 with 227 passengers 28 crew. A surprisingly low number considering the fact that the Easter Holidays had just come to an end and given the fact that a number of promotional fares had been on offer recently. One must query if the policy of advertising only a limited range of brochure fares may have had something to do with low passenger loadings?
Only in the past few weeks have Sea Containers been offering discount fares as a series of limited promotions on their Irish Sea web site. Other promotional fares have been offered by Travelbreaks who have directly mailed people who have taken advantage of their previous offers. However, this sudden rush of offers almost appears to be a "fire sale" perhaps in response to low booking levels.
It is difficult to understand the pricing policy on the Liverpool - Dublin route when one compares it to the wide range of fares offered on services to Douglas.
As SSC3 ran past the docks Mersey Mammoth could be seen heading southwards past RFA SIR GALAHAD, probably heading for Langton Lock. RFA SIR GALAHAD is currently berthed at SW Alexandra Dock undergoing maintenance by North Western Shiprepairers.
SUPERSEACAT THREE passed C22 at 08:32 and increased speed. As we ran out into Liverpool Bay visibility declined with a prevailing mist being noted. With light winds there was virtually no swell.
Q2 was passed at 08:50 with a return time at the Liverpool Bar being noted as 16:30.
Douglas Platform was passed 09:07.
EUROPEAN ENVOY was seen at 09:30 out of Mostyn. The mist had started to clear and by 10:00 visibility was much improved.
10:05 Captain informed passengers that we would soon be crossing St George's Channel and that he expected the motion of the vessel to increase as the swell from the previous day had not died down. Speed was noted to be 34.5 knots with an ETA in Dublin of 12:15.
By 10:30 visibility had improved sufficiently for the Isle of Man to be visible to the north east. Around this time the First Officer came around looking at safety equipment and explaining it to what appeared to be some new crew members.
10:45 passed small schooner rigged sailing vessel heading in a north westerly direction..
Brave Merchant past east bound at on portside at 11:00 whilst Ulysses past a couple of miles further to the south at 11:05. An unidentified red chemical tanker passed northwards across our stern. SAGA MOON was noted heading in a north easterly direction at 11:15 bound for Heysham.
11:35 passed south of Lambay Island. Visibility remaining very good.
11:43 Passed Baily Lighthose
11:45 JONATHAN SWIFT visible on berth as speed was reduced.
11:50 Point India. SSC3 sought information from Dublin Port Radio concerning the departure of JONATHAN SWIFT. SSC3 indicted it would proceed up channel to North Bank.
12:01 North Bank Lighthouse
12:03 JONATHAN SWIFT indicated that she would be on time to leave berth on schedule at 12:15
SUPERSEACAT THREE passed berth 49 at 12:05.
YVETTE and AMRUM TRADER on container berths. EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR could be seen up stream near the Eastlink Bridge. On the south quays were ARKLOW CASTLE, ARKLOW FORTUNE, WHITCREST and COATAL BREEZE whilst COASTAL WAVE announced that she was approaching the Dublin Bay Racon Buoy.
JONATHAN SWIFT cleared at 12:15, on schedule Pilot boat DODDER passed SUPERSEACAT THREE at 12:15 outbound.
With JONATHAN SWIFT clear of the berth SUPERSEACAT THREE was able to slip on having positioned herself just up river of berth 49. She berthed at 12:18.
Returning on Friday it was noted that STENA FORWARDER had still not departed with her morning sailing to Holyhead. She had been delayed on Thursday afternoon with engine trouble which had effected her schedules. As I waited in the car marshalling area P&O's NORBAY departed enroute for Liverpool.
Once SSC3 had discharged she rapidly back loaded and I was soon on board. On the South Quay IKIENA could be seen loading scrap..
A Procession of work boats came up river passing berth led by the small tug SHAKESPEARE, work barge VSM53 followed Holyhead Towing's work boat ILANDWYNN ISLAND. At 13:10 James Fisher's tanker WESTGATE passed in bound.
Departure from Dublin at 13:15 was on schedule with 394 passengers. MARGARITHA B was noted loading at MTL terminals.
North Bank Lighthouse 13:20.
As we passed Poolbeg Light Holyhead Towing's AFON LAS was approaching the fairway towing the crane barge which has been working on the Dublin Bay sewage pipeline heading in bound.
India Buoy 13:33
Misty conditions meant that little was to be seen until into Liverpool Bay.
16:35 small fishing boat noted heading west across Liverpool Bay.
16:37 Passing Bar. CLIPPER SUN noted anchored at Liverpool Bar. This vessel which has spent some time being refitted at North Western Shiprepairers and in West Float, was sold by Cammell Laird receivers to Syrian interests last year.
16:42 Q1 Overtook inbound pilot boat, the pilot boat appeared to be returning from CLIPPER SUN.
17:15 Seacombe Stage
17:20 Ropes on at Prince's Landing Stage.