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

03 June 2021

Ships in May 2021, Part 3, the final one

Saturday 22nd May 2021

I was up and out for some fresh air before breakfast this morning, as the gales seem to have died down slightly, and life seemed less turbulent. 


After checking out of the hotel, we drove to Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays underground parking.  The first piece of good news was that the harbour cruises were running, and we were soon in the short queue to buy tickets to board ALI CAT OF COWES for a real harbour cruise around Portsmouth Harbour. 


Ali Cat of Cowes, near Jenny M and Albula

Victoria of Wight

We were soon on board, wearing face masks of course to comply with one of the remaining Covid restrictions in this part of the UK;  the number of passengers allowed on board was reduced too and we were reminded to follow social distancing, but it felt wonderful to be there, and everyone around looked cheerful. 


At 11 a.m. we set sail, and the cameras were again in use.  Nearby was the little JENNY M, and the rather larger ALBULA.  In a couple of minutes we arrived at our first stop at the Dockyard, to pick up more passengers, and finally we left that quayside and sailed out into the harbour proper.  We could see so many ships and small vessels, including the mighty HMS WARRIOR built in 1862, and other tugs and Naval vessels. 


Haslar Marina

Wight Ryder 1

Wight Ryder II and the Spinnaker Tower

The old floating bridge number 5, Hempel

HMS Warrior

Vessel number 68 from the USA


Ahead we could see the very new Aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, who is due to sail from here in Portsmouth this very evening.  She looked vast, compared with the other vessels around her, but I was very pleased to see her for real.  There were many other Royal Navy vessels nearby, many of whom are probably going to accompany HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH this evening. 


As we approached these ships we had to keep outside a restricted area of course, with several Police vessels showing where we could sail.  I started taking pictures of the Aircraft Carrier and suddenly became aware of something unexpected.  Near a high point on one of the top turrets I could see a sight I thought  I recognised:   I could see the Royal Standard, the flag flown on a building or ship when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is on board!  The more I looked, the more certain I felt.  What an occasion to be here, on my first sailing since September 2019, with a good friend, and it wasn't raining! 

That looks like the Royal Standard

On board the new aircraft carrier

The bow and ramp


At the furthest part of the route we could see another new cruise ship, the VIKING VENUS.  I was pleased to see her, knowing that she starts her maiden voyage from here today.  She will head up to Liverpool as her first port of call. 

The brand new Viking Venus

Viking Venus bow

SD Helen

HMS Enterprise

SD Christina and others

Diligence, who went to the Falklands

The bow of Viking Venus

Logo and funnel of Viking Venus

Geest Line Lombok Strait

HMS Victory

On the way back I was happy to see H.M.S. VICTORY, launched in 1765, and of course best known as Lord Horatio Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805.  I believe many in the UK consider that 21st October would be the ideal date for an extra Bank Holiday, because of the long gap at present between the Bank Holiday on the last Monday in August and Christmas Day on 25th December.


Our little harbour cruise finally came to an end and we had to disembark back at Gunwharf Quays.  It had been a good morning, at sea, and was a very reassuring way to start to get back to what we all hope will be normal life in the coming months. 


Back on dry land we headed for the small cafe at the bottom of the Spinnaker Tower and considered all the ships we had seen today, many of them about to leave on big adventures.  We wish them all well. 


Ships seen:  Ali Cat of Cowes, Jenny M, Albula, Wight Ryder I, Wight Ryder II, Spirit of Gosport, HMS Warrior, HMS Victory, HMS Queen Elizabeth, St. Faith, VIC56, Diligence - a Royal Navy ship who had been to the Falklands, HMS Enterprise, the floating bridge number 5 called Hempel now at Gosport Marina, HMS Duncan, SD Victoria, SD tugs including SD Helen, HMS Bristol, SD Netley, Norton, Suzanne, Christina, Yorkshireman, Scotsman, Geest's Lombok Strait, Viking Venus, Victoria of Wight, St. Clare, Mont St. Michel

30 May 2021

Ships in May 2021, Part 2

Friday 21st May 2021 I woke up to wild and windy weather again outside the windows. It wasn't raining but I think ships were still staying in port. After breakfast the plan was to head inland to the Watercress Line steam railway of the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society and enjoy what their website said would be available today at Alton Station. It was a lovely journey there through Hampshire countryside, including the picturesque village of Selbourne. On arrival and parking we checked that the website was still accurate for today's date, but the reality was different and as we entered the station we could hear and see the end of a big steam train heading into the distance away from us, so that was very disappointing. I suppose we know that the current Covid restrictions may affect so many things unexpectedly, but it was a shame. The volunteer railwayman on the platform confirmed there was nothing to see here at Alton Station, and the next steam train would arrive and then depart mid-afternoon. We drove back through Selbourne village towards Southsea and again stopped along the promenade/esplanade area near Portsmouth Harbour. When we got out of the car I found it impossible to walk against the gale-force wind as it felt so hazardous. The sea was again coming over the road side so we gave it up as a bad job and headed for the relative shelter of Southsea Castle a little further along. We managed to park and hurry into The Canteen restaurant/cafe, in the Historic Barracks of Old Portsmouth. A light lunch was welcome after all the sea spray and fresh air. That was indeed a safe haven, as we looked out at the sea through walls which must have been two feet thick. Our table was beside a thick glass window, secondary-glazed on the outside, with very heavy metal hinged panels on the inside covering the window alcoves, which looked as if they were original and probably were. I could see just one vessel through the sea-salted glass as it struggled out of Portsmouth Harbour - the ST. CLARE ferry, heading to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. To her left I could see one of the Solent Forts and way over to her right I could see one of the Merchant Navy Patrol Boats in the distance.
St. Clare We found out that the weather was still too rough today for any sea trips locally but we can only hope for better weather and sea conditions tomorrow. Dinner that evening had been booked at a small Belgian local Bar & Kitchen (HUIS) in a street in Southsea and was really enjoyable. There were lots of Belgian artefacts hanging from the ceiling or standing in the windowsills, quite apart from very high shelving units standing against the walls and containing lots of bottles of Belgian beer. I noticed those units were safely fixed to the walls and had metal covers of some kind over all the bottle shelves. It was a fascinating place. We tried more fresh air after the meal and I tried to photograph VICTORIA OF WIGHT (not very well), before heading back to the hotel rooms. We hoped for a dry day tomorrow and maybe a calmer sea state and weather forecast.
Victoria of Wight Ships seen: St. Clare, Victoria of Wight, HMS Severn, HMS Mersey (two Patrol Boats), Wight Ryder 2 catamaran at sea, Hurstpoint, Normandie, St. Faith, Hovercraft cancelled To be continued...

28 May 2021

Ships in May 2021

20th May 2021 It's been a long, wet, cool and windy winter and spring during the latest pandemic restrictions in the south of England, but life seems to be getting better as the month of May comes to an end. I knew that several fairly new ships were keeping safe off the coast of Dorset in the UK, and some very new ships were heading into the port of Southampton or the port of Portsmouth last week. There was an appalling weather forecast due all along the English Channel from Thursday 20th May 2021 but I left my home and set off by train for the ports. I haven't been to sea since September 2019. I had several trips booked but all had to be cancelled during 2020 because of the Covid restrictions here in the UK and in other countries. I've had my two vaccinations, and so last week when Government restrictions were lifted I was able to go away from home and hope to go to sea, which was very exciting. In Southampton I met one of my 'shippy' friends and we headed off to a big local hotel for Afternoon Tea, up on the 6th floor. Of course it was raining, and the high winds were gusting all around, but I could see a huge ship through the rain on the windows at one end of the Restaurant Terrace: it was the new P&O ship IONA. Well, that was a good start to seeing the sea and a ship. Next we visited Mayflower Park, which was almost deserted. The rain had stopped for a little while, so I could get a photograph of the MSC VIRTUOSA which was berthed at 101, and seemed to have lots of ropes keeping her safely tied up alongside. She is 181,000 tons and looked huge; she is due to sail soon on her Maiden Voyage in a Covid-secure environment. In fact she sailed on her Maiden Voyage, and the first post-Covid UK cruise, that very evening.
MSC Virtuosa, Berth 101, Southampton
MSC Virtuosa, Berth 101 Way off in the distance behind her I could see the bright pink hull of the ONE COLUMBA, a 2018-built container ship, due to leave on 22nd May for Port Said and the Suez Canal. It felt so strange to look and see a space where the Solent Flour Mills used to be until a few months ago. I remember when I worked as a Purserette on board a Union-Castle Liner many years ago, standing on deck for lifeboat drill before sailing on a Friday at 1, and on the port side we could always see the Solent Flour Mills. However, turning round and looking behind me I could see the white-capped waves and feel so grateful not to be at sea, even here in Southampton Water. It was still not raining and now I could see the RED OSPREY of Red Funnel about to head to the Isle of Wight, P&O's IONA just beyond her, and way off in the distance I could see the huge shape of P&O's other new ship VENTURA.
Red Osprey, Iona, Ventura in the distance The gale force winds and rain was forecast for at least the next two days, and it would be interesting to see what would be able to sail. Certainly we knew that at Portsmouth and Southsea the Hovercraft would not be sailing/flying over to the Isle of Wight. In Port Solent, further along the coast near Portsmouth and Southsea, bags were checked into an hotel, and then we went back to the seaside to look at the sea. The waves were hurling themselves into the water's edge, onto the promenade and over it, into the roadside and filling up the gutters. I remember getting out of the car for a minute just to get a couple of photos of the Brittany Ferries GALICIA heading into Portsmouth Harbour from Santander in Spain. I had to jump across the water and didn't quite make it, so ended up with a little sea in my left boot, but it was the only alternative. The ship looked fairly steady but I didn't envy the passengers on their voyage.
Sea water at Southsea
Galicia of Brittany Ferries heading into Portsmouth Harbour from Santander Back in the car and further along the promenade the sea was hurling itself against the sea wall and rising up high into the air and then onto any traffic that was parked. It was quite dramatic to be safely in a car but flinching as the water hit the windscreen and car body. We soon moved further inland, and found somewhere for an evening meal. Ships seen: Iona, Ventura, Virtuosa, Red Osprey, One Columba, Galicia To be continued...

26 May 2021

Spring in the south of England May 2021

Mother of two
Bluebells in ancient woodlands

19 May 2021

These were cowslips
Sheep and new lambs
New lamb

May 2021 in the south of England

The camassia were coming along nicely
Camassia getting going

08 March 2021

Spring in the south of England 2021

Copper beech hedge
leucojum under the hedge
daffodil family
daffodil family
daffodil family
climbing rose shoots
close up
viburnum bodnantense starting to flower
garden thermometer
last of the snowdrops
Lenten roses - helleborus
soldiers and sailors - pulmonaria
these might be primroses or cowslips
erysimum Bowles Mauve, new growth
snowflakes - leucojum
new growth on the pittosporum
the bay tree
camassia coming along nicely