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Everything posted by monasqueen

  1. Yes, she was badly damaged at her front end in the Mersey Channel outward bound from Liverpool to Douglas, which was put down at the time to a "rogue wave" (like the one that took out Ellan Vannin?). You can never rule out recurrences of this sort of thing - you need to rely on being on board a vessel that can withstand it. MQ
  2. And they never listened to the voice of reason - look at this old news clip from 1994 - point proven? This is the same seacat that is currently being patched up, by the way. MQ
  3. Don't know whether anyone else has noticed, but the Packet have just published a 2008 timetable on the web. Needs a microscope to view it, but it goes up to January 2009. From November, the times are the same as at present - looks like they are planning on another winter with only one ship, and no day trips. Of course "timetables are subject to change"........ MQ
  4. Great photo - note the similarity to the one for sale!! Had some great trips on her that year, wonderfully friendly crew on board, too....... MQ
  5. Speed 16,5 knots Lovely ships, those, but did you spot the one "problem" - apart from being slower than Ben, she's older than Lady of Mann!! MQ
  6. Yes, but why have the winter figures gone down so considerably? In November 2003, 11,604 people arrived in Douglas from Liverpool, in December 2003, the figure was 11,251, and in January 2004, the figure was 8,870 - a total of 31,815. In November 2006, there were 6,084, December 2006 4,873, January 2007 3,439 - a total of 14,396. How many day trip passengers were there, I wonder, in 2003/4? How many have stopped travelling because there was no guarantee that the service would operate? The Steam Packet appear to have driven people away in droves, and the reduced timetable is not "an irrelevance". Why have timings in the booking computer for a winter service, and then pull the timings without warning as late as October? The losses over the last few years have probably been caused by the unreliability of the fast craft in winter conditions, leading to people not booking on them, the vast fuel costs of these vessels, and the fact that, at least last year, it has been admitted that the capacity on the Liverpool sailings was held down to the numbers that could be transferred to the Ben if the sailing had to be cancelled. They were bound to lose money if they would deliberately less than half fill the vessel each trip. If a fast all weather vessel were put onto the service, there appears to be a vast and buildable market still out there (given the increase in population and car ownership on the Island), and potentially several thousand people who might come back to the Packet. MQ
  7. I don't think anyone could disagree with this. Unfortunately, the "winter timetable" that had been available for pre-bookings was broadly based on last year's timings. When this timetable was summarily changed in October, anyone who had already booked for their weekend/day breaks or whatever had some serious amendments to face to their own arrangements. From the comments I have seen, there were more than a few who had to cancel their plans. Others who had not yet booked have "had the rug pulled out from under them". Whilst the Steam Packet's difficulties that led to a short-lived service to Birkenhead last year were met with sympathy and understanding, this year's mess is a different ball game. No wonder that the peasants are revolting. MQ
  8. The Lady of Mann used to go away to the Azores for summer holidays, and brought in some valuable charter fees. After the Lady was sold, the Azores had to find a new ship for their summer services. Perhaps we could now borrow their ship for the winter?
  9. Sorry, you cannot use 12 Quays as an all year round option - it is used by regular services between Birkenhead and Belfast and Dublin. Yes, it can cope with freight, but there is no linkspan space other than the midday period (which the Ben is using) and a corresponding midnight slot. Adding Manx freight to the Irish traffic would probably put serious strain on marshalling areas, and Norfolk Line would be unlikely to welcome another regular operator who might upset their own schedules. MQ
  10. Yes, the Government's website is not terribly user friendly, is it! The Douglas Harbour figures are released as news items each month. The following is a link to the list that includes last December's figures. It is just about possible to go back as far as 2000 through the archives, and interesting reading they make. http://www.gov.im/harbours/allnews.gov?page=2 Each years December figures include a break-down for the year as a whole, but this does not show seasonal (or monthly) fluctuations. They do include figures for all ports, however, and looking at these gives a reminder of the number of ports that the vessels have been known to go to. (See below, however - the yearly totals do not appear to be purely Steam Packet arrivals.) Going back to earlier years takes a bit of digging, as some months appear to be missing (but can mostly be obtained by using the "previous year" figures from the same month of the following year). Some are on the Transport page, rather than the Harbours page (but both are openable from the above link). The summer figures do not give an accurate reflection of Steam Packet passenger arrivals, as they include cruise ship passenger figures - see September 2007, where The Director of Harbours comments "The six cruise liners seen in September have contributed to an excellent month’s passenger figures". It is a pity that these are not separated out (including the figures for the Balmoral) - it would be good to see just how many tourists the cruise ships are bringing in. (A point for Michael Brew to take up?) MQ
  11. There are more passenger ships than Ben that use 12 Quays It is not a direct walk - there is a long way to go round the security fences.
  12. In December 2003, 11,251 people arrived in Douglas from Liverpool. In December 2006, the number was only 4,873. It seems that the Steam Packet has deliberately driven people away, so that they can stop running to Liverpool altogether. In 2004, before the User Agreement was extended, Tynwald was promised that a replacement fast craft would "soon" be purchased to replace the "elderly Lady of Mann" and the "existing small SeaCat" (Seacat Isle of Man). Our politicians should be asking why that promise was not kept. Why is it now necessary to repair the Seacat, after it was allegedly an insurance write-off, when it should have been replaced 3 years ago, as it was then described as being "constrained by its limited vehicle capacity"? There are good all weather vessels being produced that will carry passengers, cars, and freight (and in a lot more comfort than Ben my Chree!) with service speeds of 25 knots (about what the "fast" craft has regularly been doing on 3 engines). One of these would enable the Racket to get back a bit more customer support, and build (rebuild?) its services, both to Liverpool, and to the Irish ports which have sadly been completely neglected over the last few years. Unfortunately, the cost of a newbuild is not getting any less, and the minimum amount named in the User Agreement agreement for fleet improvement will go nowhere near providing the decent replacement vessel that we badly need. The Steam Packet must be fully aware that there is a reducing number of vessels around the world that are small enough for both Heysham and Douglas, and there is very little availability 2nd hand - certainly not young enough or fast enough to service the Island's needs. A decent newbuild may be the only feasible way forward - and the sooner this is progressed, the better. Some serious commitment needs to be shown to the Island's long term needs. It is a sad indictment that the total winter passengers (November to January inclusive) from both Heysham and Douglas are still substantially less than they were 4 years ago, despite the increases in the Island's population and car ownership over the same period. There is something very wrong if the company cannot show an increase where there is much potential for a developing market. (The figures are all available on the gov.im/harbours or transport website). Why is it that no other vessel can come into Douglas when there are 2 linkspans and only one ship using them? And why does Ben "have to" use the Government's linkspan when it could use the Steam Packet's own? Is this so that foot passengers are forced into using that expensive footbridge rather than get off by the Sea Terminal? MQ
  13. Triskelion has clearly never been to Birkenhead, or walked between 12 Quays and Birkenhead Hamilton Square (on a dry day, never mind a wet day). It is NOT nearby!!! It takes up to half an hour to walk it, by someone who is reasonably fit - and yes, I have done it, so speak from experience. There are no buses in the area to help out, either. MQ
  14. Thought it might be appropriate now to quote directly from Mr Woodward's Blog of 4 July 2007: "I’ve also been asked about our winter service - the Liverpool winter service is of course a trade off between speed and reliability. Some of our customers prefer a slower speed with more weather reliability, while others prefer the high speed craft albeit they can be more affected by weather. We’re currently working towards how we might further improve the reliability of our winter Liverpool service. There are many issues to overcome first though." And from the Blog of 10 July 2007: "Regarding conventional craft to Liverpool in winter months. A number of our passengers have requested this preferring reliability over speed and fastcraft are less reliable in the winter months due to occasional adverse weather. The Ben-my-Chree to Birkenhead in March did prove popular but unfortunately we have to service our regular freight demands and ensure we can provide an overnight Heysham service. Therefore the Ben cannot leave Liverpool on Saturday evening and day trips would have to be via Heysham Express Coach Services." So what they have now announced as a "new" service, is nothing more than what they have known for months was the only alternative with the vessel(s) they've got. Oh, and by the way, the £99 "offer" appears to be very restricted indeed, and it will not be available every weekend - there is no 02:15 hours Ferry service from Heysham Sundays 9th December, 13th January, 3rd February or 23rd February. Euromanx must be rubbing their hands (and their wallets) with glee. MQ
  15. Emeraude France went back to her owner after TT, and was gointg to be transformed into a private yacht, so no chance of her coming back. No, the "service" will be operated by Sea Express 1 (which may by then have been renamed Seacat Isle of Man - is this like Windscale being renamed after its accident?!). There is unlikely to be any need for more than one fast craft and a chartered freighter.
  16. What the Steam Packet have not addressed in their statement is the fact that it is the change in services as a whole that has upset a lot of people - not just the scrapping of day excursion opportunities. In the last few years, they have been providing services both to Liverpool and to Heysham at weekends, and the fast craft (when running) was giving people heading south the chance of getting closer to their destination a lot sooner. This was in addition to the day trip opportunities, which the seacat's unrelaibility killed off. In the December 2004 Tynwald debate about the User Agreement, we were told that a new fast craft would be purchased "soon" to replace both the Lady of Mann and the Seacat. The Lady was sold without any sign of a replacement, and we were left with an elderly fast craft that could not cope without back-up availability. This seacat is currently being patched up, apparently for several more years' use. Where is the promised replacement? The Superseacat is not it - this, too is elderly, and it won't take much in the way of weather. They were lucky to be able to charter Emeraude France in the spring (the Seacat's sister) but had the Lady not been sold without being replaced, those charter charges would not have been necessary. The User Agreement requires a basic minimum of services, and the Steam Packet is providing at least that minimum - we cannot argue against that. What the public have been getting used to, however, is a much better level of service over the winter months (subject to the weather). To withdraw the extra service now, and call it an improvement, is an insult.
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