LADY OF MANN
08:30 Troon - Douglas - 21 May 2005
Having stayed the night at the Kilmarnock Travel Lodge I awoke early on the Saturday morning for the drive over to Ayr. This was in order to have my car parked, as I would be returning there on the Sunday from Stranraer. I then boarded the train and headed up the coast to Troon.
Arriving at the harbour having walked down from the railway station I found the LADY OF MANN berthed starboard side to and dressed over all, at the former Seacat Terminal. After checking in and taking some photos, I noted that on the pier was the Managing Director Hamish Ross chatting with some passengers. After around 15 cars had been put aboard. I along with other passengers numbering around 100 boarded by the car ramp.
At 08.55 Capt Alan Albiston took the "Lady" astern on what was to be a 175 nautical mile trip back to Douglas. As we departed Hamish Ross along with whom I think was the Provost of Troon were having their photos taken by the local press.
While the "Lady" headed towards the east coast of Arran I went to the cafeteria to have some breakfast. At 09.08 off the starboard side the 1993 built Cal Mac ferry CALEDONIAN ISLES was seen entering Ardrossan harbour. Off the port side at 09.16 the P&0 EXPRESS was noted inward bound from Larne . By 09.37 the LADY OF MANN was sailing down Arran's east coast passing Lamlash and the Holy Isle. Whiting Bay was passed at 09.45. To port was Alisa Craig commonly known as "Paddy's Milestone".
By the time I had found a seat from which I could base myself for the duration off the sail the LADY OF MANN passed Pladda lighthouse at 10:00. By 10.55 We where heading round the Sanda Islands just off the Mull of Kintyre.
At 11:18 just off the "Mull" the LADY OF MANN altered course turning to port and headed over the North Channel towards Torr Head on the Antrim coast . By 11.43 we were now off the Northern Irish coast with Rathlin Island off the starboard side.
Just after Red Bay we stopped hugging the coast line and the LADY OF MANN headed away from the coast . Red Bay was passed at 12.05`, with the Maden Islands passed at 12.55. Up till this point the weather had been dry with some sunshine if not a little cold!
Now though looking ahead from the forward lounge you could see the clouds thicken and the rain beginning, Thankfully it was only a short shower. The Ulster ferry port of Larne was passed at 13.00 with EUROPEAN MARINER, EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and P&O EXPRESS all berthed.
At 13:30 the entrance to Belfast Lough was passed, and by this time the showers had stopped and we were back to dry sunny weather. At 13.15 we passed Mew Island then Copeland Island, the LADY OF MANN was back to hugging the coast line, at 13.53 the South Rock light ship was reached.
15.15 the entrance to Strangford Lough was passed off the starboard side.
15.43 The "Lady" was now off St John's Rock lighthouse this was to be as far down the Irish coast she was to sail, she then begun to turn to port and head across the Irish sea towards the Isle of Man.
By 17.15 the Lady of Man was rounding the Calf of Man and heading North up the East coast of the Isle of Man. Passing Port St.Mary's at 17:25 she blew her horn, this was something of a tradition started by a former master of the Lady the late Captain Vernon Kinley who was a Port St Mary's man .
Sailing towards Douglas at 17.35 looking ahead we could see the SUPERSEACAT TWO heading for Liverpool, Dick Clague who had been giving an excellent commentary through out said at this point we were doing 22 knots . At 18.00 we were off Douglas harbour The BEN-MY-CHREE was berthed at the Victoria Pier link span , the "Lady" then did a circuit of Douglas Bay before berthing starboard to at the outside berth on Victoria Pier. The LADY OF MANN was made fast at Douglas at 18.20. While a crane was unloading her car ramp the foot passengers disembarked .
As I walked along Douglas esplanade to my hotel I dwelled on what a really fantastic day it had been, other than the one heavy shower off Larne the weather had been lovely. This had only been my third ever sail on the LADY OF MANN the last time I had sailed on her had been a return sail from Heysham in 1999 that was to photograph the CLAYMORE which had been doing extra sailings for that year's TT races.