Liverpool - Dublin
It has been just over four years since my last trip on SUPERSEACAT TWO my final voyage being just before she was replaced on the Liverpool - Dublin route by SUPERSEACAT THREE. At the time of her replacement there appeared some relief that this then somewhat troublesome ship should be replaced.
I had briefly been on board at Heysham in 2000 when she was introduced on to the Heysham - Belfast route, but apart from that I hadn't set foot on the vessel for some time.
I arrived at Liverpool Sea Terminal for the 08:15 departure for Dublin around 07:15
As passengers assembled in the departure lounge at Liverpool Sea Terminal regular announcements informed passengers that the Captain was advising adverse conditions in the Irish Sea and that the crossing would be subject to some delay. However, an early departure would be made to try and reduce delays.
SUPERSEACAT TWO's departure was at 08:05 with 409 passengers and 55 vehicles.
At the Rock MERSEY VIKING passed in bound for Twelve Quays around 08:20. No other traffic was noted in the channels and Q1 buoy was passed at 08:40.
The Liverpool Bar was passed at 08:44. Anchored south of the Bar was James Fisher's LOUGH FISHER.
Visibility during the crossing was only moderate. Sea state was slight to moderate during the run along the north Wales coast. However, once clear of the shelter afforded by the coast, off South Stack the full force of the southerly wind was felt with SUPERSEACAT TWO rolling noticeably. The CSO advised passengers to remain seated.
Quite a few passengers were soon worse for wear, as well as a couple of cabin crew. However, SUPERSEACAT TWO appeared to make good progress.
Poor visibility meant that there was little to be seen and the Baily appeared somewhat suddenly to starboard heralding our arrival in Dublin bay.
Before long SUPERSEACAT TWO was passing Poolbeg at 12:04. Two hardy souls were noted walking along the windswept Great South Wall.
LINDAROSA was at the Norse Merchant terminal. Alongside at the former container terminal [berth 53] Coastal Container Line's COASTAL BREEZE was loading the parts of a dismantled container crane.
SUPERSEACAT TWO was on the berth at 12:16 just one minute behind schedule. As we berthed JONATHAN SWIFT could be seen on berth 51a. Irish Ferries having cancelled their fast ferry operations due to the adverse weather.
Up river in the Alexandra Basin could be seen the small cruise ship VAN GOUGH, the first Dublin cruise call of season.
Dublin - Liverpool
The 13:15 return departure time slipped somewhat as time was taken to secure vehicles for the return sailing.
Captain Taha advised passengers that the first part of the return trip might be a little rough and that passengers should remain seated for the first part of the voyage. Though, he pointed out that conditions on the second part of the voyage would be much improved.
At 13:29 SUPERSEACAT TWO let go with 453 on board. The engines were already running up to full power before we departed the calmer waters of the Liffey fairway. Spray was now sweeping over the Great South Wall. I decided to spend the first part of the return journey sheltering in the recessed doorway which leads from the Blue Riband Lounge onto the open deck.
SUPERSEACAT TWO shot out of the Liffey rather like a cork out of a bottle. Instead of taking the usual track across Dublin Bay, SSC2 headed south west, passing close to Norse Merchant Ferries RIVER LUNE which was at anchor. Staying fairly close to the coast SSC2 turned east wards off Sorrento Point just south of Dalkey.
As the ship ran out into exposed water SSC2 began to roll again as the southerly sea hit the vessel. Kish lighthouse was passed close to port. I am sure this is the closest I have been to the light house, and in calm conditions it would have made a good photograph. However, there was too much spray coming over on to the open deck to make it wise to bring out the camera.
During the course of the crossing of St George's Channel, the Captain kept passengers well informed regarding how much longer the rough conditions would persist.
Once again there were quite a few passengers the worse for wear. Sounds of human misery emanating from the Blue Riband Lounge toilets prompted the stewardess to put a CD on the lounge hi-fi!
Unfortunately some passengers and crew do appear to find it hard to cope with such lively conditions, though it was hardly exceptional. However, SSC2 does appear a little more lively than SUPERSEACAT THREE, having travelled in very similar conditions at the end of the 2002 season.
The average speed across St George's Channel was announced to be around 30 knots.
At 15:25 SUPERSEACAT TWO was level with South Stack. The massive bulk of ULYSSES could be heading west bound on her afternoon sailing for Dublin.
SSC2 passed within two miles of SOUTH STACK at 15:31. By now the ship was in calm waters and the motion ceased. The captain advising passengers that it was now safe to get up and stretch their legs.
At 16:52 the rather stylish and just renamed container ship CITY OF SALERNO passed on the port side outbound from the Mersey as we were level with the Douglas Platform. Only the previous day this ship had arrived at Liverpool as the LANCASHIRE.
By now the weather had improved significantly compared to earlier in the crossing as had the visibility. Liverpool Bar Light was passed at 17:05, followed by Q1 at 17:10 There was no traffic in the channel with the Rock being passed at 17:30.
Three jet skiers came out from New Brighton to ride SSC2's wake. However, after showing off to the quite large number of passengers now on the open deck, one rider fell off his jet ski and had to be fished out by one of his fellow riders.
As SSC2 moved up river Captain Taha once again apologised to the passengers for the rough conditions during the first part of the crossing and explained that the conditions were not those usually encountered. It was a nice touch and may go some way to get some passengers back on board for another voyage. Whilst, enthusiasts may enjoy a good blow and lively crossing, it was very apparent that to some SUPERSEACAT TWO was living up to her old nick name which won't be repeated here!
As the Pier Head approached there were large numbers of people to be seen enjoying the afternoon sun and attracted to the river by the on-going Battle of the Atlantic 60 Commemorations.
SUPERSEACAT TWO was secure at Prince's Landing Stage at 17:55. Forty minutes behind schedule and just over 4hours and 25 minutes since departure.
SUPERSEACAT TWO appears to be running well and coped well with the prevailing conditions. It is to be hoped that her new Irish Sea career continues as smoothly as this day's sailing had done despite the adverse weather.