Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

COSTA DIADEMA Maiden Voyage 1st November 2014

Part 1
31st October 2014

An Italian ship-shaped Welcome to Venice Airport

After a train ride from Venice to Trieste, a taxi dropped me and one of my travelling companions right outside the Savoia Excelsior Palace Hotel, Trieste; just across the road was the COSTA DIADEMA!

I checked into my sea-facing room and this was the lovely sight from the balcony.

In the hotel's foyer was the wonderful model of the REX, all hand-made by the maritime author Maurizio Eliseo.

After the sun set we walked along the quay to enjoy the sight of COSTA DIADEMA, and her reflection in the water.

The Costa logo on the funnel


There was a wonderful fireworks display just before midnight, which our little group viewed from one of the hotel balconies. The sounds echoed round the hills of the little city of Trieste and provided a lovely ending to a happy day. Tomorrow we check in and board the COSTA DIADEMA for her maiden voyage from here in Trieste.

To be continued....

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London

A visit to the Tower of London to see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
16th September 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Seas of Red

Individual Poppies

Cascade from one of the towers

Continuing around the Moat - more poppies, and The Shard building in the background across the River Thames beside London Bridge station

Around again

Continuing around

On again

A fearsome entrance


Another cascade; in the background can be seen the building known as 'The Gherkin', at 30 St. Mary Axe, the former site of the Baltic Exchange. The other prominent white building to the right is the former Port of London Authority headquarters.

Tower Bridge was beside and then behind me as I continued walking around the moat

The last part of the moat as I completed my circuit of The Tower of London

Sunday, 12 October 2014

SANDETTIE Lightvessel Automatic 29th September 2014

On 29th September 2014 I was sailing through the English Channel/Dover Straits on board OASIS OF THE SEAS, heading for the port of Rotterdam on the next day. The seas had been calm all through the Bay of Biscay, and it was delightful to be at sea in those conditions. It was slightly hazy by late afternoon but suddenly I could see what looked like a Lightvessel, raised my camera and discovered I was looking at a vessel whose name I knew - it was Sandettie!

Sandettie Lightvessel Automatic, Sandettie Bank, English Channel

This is a name I know from hearing it on the BBC’s Shipping Forecast, issued by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, for waters around the coast of the British Isles. The vessel is named after her location on the Sandettie Bank, to the north of Calais in France.

Trinity House (www.trinityhouse.co.uk) website told me that she is in this position:

Latitude 51° 09.355’N., Longitude 001° 47.122’E

For the second time this year I have been fortunate enough to be able to see another of Trinity House’s Lightvessels, and this time one whose name is unforgettable - lucky me.

VARNE Lightvessel 16th May 2014

VARNE Lightvessel No. 21

On 16th May 2014 I was on board BLACK WATCH, sailing south west through the English Channel and heading for the port of Southampton on the following day. I was out on deck on the port side after sunset, watching a calm sea in the twilight.

Watching from here (21.03 British Summer Time)

I then went inside to check our position on a nearby screen.

I could see we were in the Dover Straits, with France on the port side and England on our starboard side and

I went out on deck again, and then I saw VARNE.

Varne and a container ship in the background (21.13 BST)

Trinity House (www.trinityhouse.co.uk) gave me the following information:

Varne Lightvessel

Lat 51° 01.286 N Long 001° 23.897 E (not for navigation purposes)

The Varne Lightvessel marks the dangerous Varne bank, a five and three quarter mile long sand bank in the Dover Strait, lying nine miles southwest of Dover in Kent. Lying almost in the middle of the international traffic separation scheme of the English Channel, the bank is a constant concern for shipping.

In addition, our Operations and Planning Centre (OPC) in Harwich can monitor / control the lights, fog signals, racons, AIS (when operational), engine (where applicable), position monitoring, collision / bilge indications and battery voltages.

All Lightvessels report into OPC every 12 hours or whenever there is a change of state at the station. OPC can also request an update from the station.
Range (NM) Character Fog Signal
15 Fl (R) 5s (1)30s

I also found out that she was commissioned in 1962 and built for Trinity House in 1963 by Philip & Son, of Dartmouth, England. She is of riveted steel and is 40.54 metres (133 feet) long.

I often hear on BBC Radio 4 the Shipping Forecast, broadcast on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, giving details of the weather and sea conditions for waters around the coasts of the British Isles, so it was good to see VARNE, which is in the Dover area, and a unique experience for me.

Close-up picture of VARNE

Friday, 10 October 2014

LOUIS AURA 3rd August 2014 Part 5, the final one

Wednesday 6th August 2014
I woke up to hear the gentle noise of LOUIS AURA’s engines going astern as we approached Marmaris in Turkey at 6.30 a.m. but ignored them and returned to sleep.

Chart for Marmaris

Louis Aura at Marmaris, Turkey

Marmaris Express

It was again incredibly hot out on deck and when we went ashore after breakfast we discovered the temperature was 35ÂșC, and that was at 9.30 a.m. We wandered into the cool terminal for the free wi-fi just outside, and then enjoyed the rest of the morning in the shade. A salad lunch was followed by a trip to the Bridge for departure from Marmaris at 2.40. The scenery of the surrounding mountains and narrow entrance in and out of the port was beautiful, with the blue sky and calm seas all around us.

Head count

Brass plate on the Bridge

On the Bridge

Heading for that gap

Aft view port side

Starward bell

We thanked the Captain for letting us be on the Bridge for departure, and he then invited us for drinks with him at 7.30 p.m. in his cabin – which he says is ‘special’.

Venus Deck view

Oooh, I may have to change my home page picture...

At 7.15 p.m. we presented ourselves at Reception and were escorted up to Captain Gritzelis’s cabin, which was indeed a great surprise. It reminded me slightly of Nelson’s cabin on VICTORY, as it was probably designed to do. The Captain was happy with it, and told us the story of the first captain on the ship having the work done by his chippie (carpenter) on board. When the then owner of the ship came on board to see it, he was not a happy man and immediately dismissed the Captain for exceeding his duties in having the cabin changed. The cabin has not been altered since, and we subsequently discovered that LOUIS AURA’s sister ship LEISURE WORLD also has a similar cabin so the story may be apocryphal rather than accurate, but it made a wonderful tale!

Captain's Cabin

Captain Kostas Gritzelis in his cabin

We also talked about the company’s change of name, but that LOUIS AURA was not included in that, so then we speculated about the ship that might be acquired at approximately 25,000 tons with some balconies, for use in 2016. After a lively discussion, which I think gave Captain Gritzelis some food for thought, we had to thank and leave him and head for Greek Night dinner in the Restaurant.

This proved to be less disappointing than previous nights, but we did notice that a large party on two nearby tables was able to order non-menu food and one of the Chefs appeared from the kitchens and was warmly greeted by the passengers on those tables. I remembered Greek Night food from LOUIS AURA sailing out of Greece last year, but this was rather different.

Stargazing on a dark deck forward of Venus Bars provided a tranquil and lovely end to a fascinating day on board.

Ships seen: Harika, Louis Aura, King Saron, Aegean Cat, 12 small sailing excursion vessels, and 2 or 3 parasailers as we left Marmaris

I see my companions had added a new heading here in my notebook of
Ships not seen in Rhodes as we sailed nearby, so these are: Queen Elizabeth, Orient Queen II

Further notes added included reference to wine, biscuits and cappuccino but I shall ignore them.

Thursday 7th August 2014
I had to vacate my cabin on this last morning by 7 a.m. so breakfast was early today, as we sailed along towards Limassol on calm seas in the heat.

Up to the Bridge

We went to the Bridge for 8.40 a.m. and were again welcomed by Captain Gritzelis. The view from there is so panoramic and enjoyable, especially as we could see the SALAMIS FILOXENIA in port ahead of us. I had always wondered what she looked like in reality and this was my chance.

Salamis Filoxenia

All the luggage was taken off and then passengers were allowed ashore. I had a Priority label so we were soon off the ship; on the way out I was greeted by Michael the Hotel Manager, who hoped all was well. Our voyage questionnaires have been handed in so he will learn of our disappointment with the food, but the voyage and ship itself has been just as enjoyable as we all hoped. The ports were interesting and Captain Gritzelis made us feel so welcome on his Bridge.

Then it was time for goodbyes to the Staff Captain on the quayside, a short walk past LOUIS AURA and SALAMIS FILOXENIA

Salamis Filoxenia from the quayside

Louis Aura looking aft

and then journeys to Paphos airport for me on my way home to the UK and to Larnaca for my friends and their flights.

Ships seen: Salamis Filoxenia, DP Gezina (the ex Simara Ace), various cargo ships and tugs, and Louis Aura.

I had loved being on LOUIS AURA again and hope she continues to sail for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

LOUIS AURA 3rd August 2014 Part 4

Later that day came the news that Louis Cruise Lines are to change their name to Celestyia and acquire another ship at about 25,000 tons with some balconies, for use in 2016. We worried immediately about the future for our little LOUIS AURA but apparently she is not included in the name change, but where that leaves her future is unclear at the moment.

At 5.45 p.m. we presented ourselves on the Bridge ready for arrival in Symi, a Greek island with a harbour nestling amongst the usual mountains, and entered through a fairly narrow entrance between them.

Going astern into the bay

The other side of the bay

The Clock Tower

It was a spectacular sight to see this tiny port ahead of us as we arrived, turned and went astern to dock safely in the little town. Even LOUIS AURA looked huge in this port; Captain Gritzelis broadcast a welcome to us passengers and reminded us that the island only had a couple of months each summer to welcome visitors so any spending on our part would be most welcome. That made us all smile and make sure we helped in any way we could.

The ship’s ropes were tossed out to a local rope-man in his little boat, who skilfully took them individually to the various capstans on the quayside, as we looked down on the beautiful blue water.

The ropes man

On the quayside we could see people strolling, or doing deliveries, but I was surprised to see a scooter driving along the road because it looked as if it was being driven by a black and white dog. When I looked carefully of course the dog’s man was sitting behind it and I think there was a white-bloused woman with long black hair riding side-saddle behind him, but it was quite disconcerting for a moment.

The dog on the scooter

The ropes man again

Symi on the chart

Dodekanisos Pride arrived

It was after 6 p.m. but the temperature was still up in the high 20’s C, as everyone disembarked from the ship. Some went on tours but most of us walked around the town to enjoy the views and try and help the local economy.

Both sides of the port

Our ship

Stern view

Bridge with sea gaps

At the end of the bay, astern of the ship, were two pedestrian stone bridges, one higher than the other. The first one had arches underneath to allow the sea to spill further inland if necessary, and after walking over this to a lower level I found myself inadvertently paddling as I stopped to take photos. Sea water was gently starting to lap at the soles of my shoes – what fun.

A bit of paddling

Louis Aura across the water

Pantelis Greek Restaurant

We found the wonderful Restaurant Pantelis serving freshly prepared and cooked Greek food so spent an enjoyable time there watching the sun go down and another Dodekanisos Seaways ferry come in and settle down for the night. A stroll home along the still-busy streets completed the day ashore, knowing that the ship would not leave until 3.00 a.m. the next morning. What a delightful place this is, and somewhere else to go on the list of islands to re-visit for a longer time.

Ships seen: Louis Aura, Halas 71, Turkish Sealines Prince (one of the old blue/yellow Comarit vessels), Dodekanisos Pride, Dodekanisos Express,

To be continued...