Monday, 27 September 2010
Funchal Cruise 5th September 2010 Part 2
Funchal Cruise 5th September 2010
Tuesday 7th September 2010
I was woken at 5 a.m. by a tug’s spotlight shining under a curtain, so I got up to see us coming alongside in Malaga, two hours early; across the harbour I could see an enormous vessel, and in the early dawn light I could see it was EVELYN MAERSK. She, with her seven sisters, is the biggest container ship in the world. I went back to bed to sleep for a couple of hours, before the start of a busy day for us four.
Several other ships came into the port, including JUAN J. SISTER and GRAND PRINCESS.
Malaga is in Spain and east of Gibraltar, and the plan was to hire a car and take ferries to and from Tangier. The theory of this had been worked out some time ago, but of course reality always takes over. At Malaga Railway Station we tried to hire a car for the day, but the first three International car hire offices had nothing available. How boring, we thought, to have to sit in a hire car office all day, with nothing to hire out. Mind you, we were amused to read the English translation of a sign, telling us to keep our baggage under control at all times.
The fourth office provided what we wanted, so we soon set off for Algeciras, parked safely in the Ferry Terminal car park, and rushed inside to buy tickets for the sailing of LE RIF in just 15 minutes time.
We and the other foot passengers were escorted to the overhead gangway only to see that there was an argument going on and we could not board, seemingly because of the position of a rope. Men arrived and joined the argument, arms were waved, a noisy rainstorm started overhead, and after much shouting we were allowed through the barriers and on board. I suppose we felt like precious cargo for a minute.
LE RIF was built in 1980 at Harland & Wolff as GALLOWAY PRINCESS, with Saint sisters: St. Anselm, St. Christopher, St. David, at 6,630 tons. After lengthy service between Stranraer and Larne for Sealink, Sealink British Ferries and Stena Line, in 2002 she became LE RIF on the Algeciras to Tangier route, but Bruce and Matt knew her in her previous life as a British Rail vessel. So, this is my first Saint Class vessel sailing and I have to record the fact.
On board the rain had made puddles on the deck but the sun shone as we left Algeciras, heading for the newly built ferry port of Tangier. It was a few miles outside the city, so had no character as yet, but it was interesting to watch the other shipping in the area as we enjoying seeing around LE RIF. She was neat and tidy on board, and virtually empty, with no food of any kind available. We knew it was Ramadan so were not really surprised, and I don’t think they were prepared for English-speaking passengers.
However, we met the Captain in the office beside Reception, and he showed us some of the original and little-used public rooms on board, still being kept in pristine condition.
We loved seeing that under his office desk was a large First Aid Box that had letters in large print on it saying “GALLOWAY PRINCESS”. As he said, why change it unnecessarily?
We enjoyed our time on the ship, as we bobbed and bounced our way over to Tangier ferry port; particularly we enjoyed watching the apparent race between AL MANSOUR and ATLAS as they headed into Algeciras!
We footies were all kept on board for ages, waiting for someone to unlock the exit doors onto the car deck so we could get out and disembark. I know that different countries and ships have different rules about things, but we did think this was a worrying amount of time, with no members of staff around, and we were all simply waiting where we had been told.
Once off EL RIF we had to board a coach and go to the terminal building, and there we could book to go back to Algeciras on our hoped-for ship: BOUGHAZ. Once again it was a tightly timed thing. We expected a slight delay as the Passport people in Algeciras (Spain) registered us leaving the country there, and the Immigration and Passport people in Tangier (Morocco) registered our entering their country and immediately leaving it, and of course this happened, but smiles and courtesies helped as usual. We booked our tickets, went through Customs, Passport and Immigration and took the passenger coach back to the quayside near BOUGHAZ, watching the car and lorry traffic boarding up the single lane bow ramp.
Then it was our turn to walk up the ramp. Once on board we could enjoy the wait until the ship sailed, and see EL MANSOUR arriving back in Tangier,
as well as other passing ships including the cruise ship OCEANA. At a distance we could see the regular shipping off Gibraltar.
BOUGHAZ was built for Viking Line in 1974 as M/S VIKING 5, with seven sister ships, at the Joseph Meyer shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Aha, my first Papenburg ship! Her tonnage was 5,286 and she was built to carry 1200 passengers.
After use in the Baltic, she joined Sally Line in 1981 as SALLY EXPRESS to sail between Ramsgate and Dunkirk, then became VIKING EXPRESS. Next, she was bought by Fred Olsen Lines' subsidiary, the Kristiansands Dampskip-Selskap for operation across the Skagerrak between Hirtshals, Hanstholm and Kristiansand. During this phase, she was chartered in 1987 to be used in Reykjavik as a hotel ship during talks between Reagan and Gorbachev, went to The Isle of Man for ferry use between there and Liverpool and Belfast, and in 1988 went to Comarit (a subsidiary of Fred. Olsen), became BOUGHAZ and sailed between Algeciras and Tangier and this is how we saw her today. The yellow funnel is so Fred. Olsen and despite various conversions and the addition of sponsons, I think she looks a very attractive ship from the outside.
The ship decks were being hosed down as we walked around, but once we were out in the shipping lanes and climbed up to the top deck, we were buffeted by the strong winds and could see the deposits on the rear of the two engine exhausts.
The delightful Forward Restaurant was open for lunch – customers are customers - so we enjoyed the views and the soup, and the delicious fresh dates. We also liked the sign outside banning dogs in the Restaurant, before arriving back in Algeciras.
We were guided off the ship by a member of staff, along the overhead gantries towards the exit, taking pictures through the open windows of the gantry at the ship we had just left.
Whistles started blowing, shouting noises filled the air, and we realised that one member of officialdom didn’t like us taking photographs! Too bad! As there were several windows with glass missing, we decided to take a few more photographs! What a shame he didn’t realise that if the ships didn’t have passengers, he would be out of a job…
Then it was back to the car and home to Malaga, and back on board FUNCHAL in time for 9 p.m. dinner and departure for our next port of call at Ceuta, in North Africa.
Ships seen: Diheciocho (tug), Evelyn Maersk, Lidon B, Maersk Byuton, Oceana, Grand Princess, Le Rif, Boughaz, Hawk Explorer of Seabird, Jaume 1, Jaume III, Luz de Mar (salvage ship), Avemar Dos, Milenium Tres, Al Mansour, Atlas, Banasa, Tanger Jet, Safmarine Tarifi
to be concluded...