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

30 November 2010

Summer 2010, Part 4

Summer 2010
Part 4 – Swimming with Swallows

Click on pictures to enlarge

Sunday 4th July 2010
Overnight was spent in an hotel on the outskirts of Siena in Italy. I woke up quite early and decided to take a swim in the pool in the garden. I simply had to walk between some olive trees, and down the slope to the pool set amongst roses and lavender bushes.

The sun was coming up over the mist of the distant hills surrounding Siena, and the warmth of the air was like silk on my skin. There was no-one around as I swam in the clear water, until suddenly I was aware of movement in the air above me. A swallow swooped down and collected something flying above the pool. It was obviously to his liking, as he and several other swallows began swooping and diving down to collect insects just above the surface. It was the most amazing sensation – swimming back and forth in the calm and clear water, with swallows flying around just a few feet above and beyond me. Swimming with swallows has to be the name for today – it was the most magical and memorable sensation.

After a terrace breakfast, we set off for Ancona via Perugia. We passed Lake Trasimeno with its 3 islands and saw one of the local steamers, went through tunnels, beside mountains, ravines, hairpin bends, and forests, until we reached Ancona Airport to leave the rented Hertz car. Lack of Sunday public transport meant a taxi ride to the new Ferry Terminal at the port of Ancona – well, it was more like a tin hut, big, but still a metal hut, set in an industrial location. It was full of people, check-in desks, noise, luggage, the smell of sweat, food being unpacked and eaten, sparse seating, but absolutely no atmosphere. Thanks ISPS, we thought, what a missed opportunity.

We checked in and obtained our tickets, and the free shuttle bus took us back to the old terminal building, where we could leave our luggage safely in lockers before climbing the hill up to a favourite restaurant beside the Duomo.

CRUISE EUROPA was eventually spotted and photographed, and then it was time to return to the old Terminal Building and enjoy the air-conditioning until it was time for ‘footies to go’. She was to be our overnight sailing from Ancona to Patras in Greece.

CRUISE EUROPA was built in 2009 at 53,360 gross tons, in Italy, to carry over 2000 passengers. She might be a huge Minoan monster, with lots of chrome, mirrors, and other decorative features to admire, but we were due to leave at 5 p.m. and here I am drinking a cup of tea at 6.10 p.m. in the King Minos lounge, still in port. Mind you, I loved the beautiful blue fabric of the seating, which still looked in a brand new condition.

We eventually sailed at 7 p.m. from Ancona, and on the way out of the harbour had a good view of the Fincantieri yard where they were building L’AUSTRAL for Plan Tours. She looks lovely, and we admired her lines as we sailed past; we could also see FIONA berthed.

With this late sailing, and knowing that CRUISE EUROPA is a slow ship for her size and will not be able to make up time after her late loading and departure from Ancona, we will have to disembark in Igoumenitsa in order to catch our planned sailing on IONIAN KING, as she comes up from Patras.

With Plan B mentally already in place, we enjoyed dinner in the Restaurant; we felt they were understaffed, and with seemingly poor management, but the individual staff looked after us well in the circumstances. Hundreds of people were sleeping in the corridors, stairways, on deck, on chairs and mattresses, so after a final warm walk on deck we were pleased to have cabin accommodation.

Ships seen: Olympic Champion, Superfast XI, Fiona, MSC Armonia, Costa Victoria, a little island ferry on Lake Trasimeno, L’Austral (at the Fincantieri Ancona shipyard)

Monday 5th July 2010

After a good night’s sleep on board CRUISE EUROPA, I made my way carefully through the still sleeping people everywhere in the corridors and public rooms, to the self-service café for some coffee and breakfast. The outside heat was a shock, but it was lovely to be at sea. She is a slow ship, as I’m told the engines are not big enough for her size, so she cannot make up time lost in loading and the late departure from Ancona.

We arrived at Igoumenitsa at 12.15 and disembarked there instead of continuing to Patras. I was sorry about missing that last part of the journey, but it was the only way to get our next sailing, which was to be on IONIAN KING. Last year we had been booked on her but she had the euphemistically named ‘technical difficulties’, so I was looking forward to this midnight sailing from Igoumenitsa to Bari in Italy.

With lots of time to spare therefore, we caught the 2.15 p.m. ferry AGIA THEODORA

(built in 1989 in Japan as YUKAZURU MARU/FERRY BLUE SKY, at 2,336 gross tons) from Igoumenitsa to Corfu;

as we left we could see POLARIS tied up at a quayside.

We last saw her in Bari some time ago when sailing out of there on SUPERFAST I. We arrived in the little harbour of Corfu at 3.30 after a delightful passage to the island. There was the added bonus of seeing OCEAN MAJESTY in port too.

Whilst walking around to see her, I noticed an eye-catching balancing act on board SOPHOCLES V.

There was time for lunch and a stroll around the town, and watching the comings and goings of other ships, before catching the 19.15 back to Igoumenitsa on NIKOLAOS.

She was built in Sunderland, England, in 1987, as SUPERFLEX ALFA, for Danish interests, eventually coming to Greece in 2002, and taking her current name in 2007. Her evacuation equipment came from Japan, and the information notices were also written in Japanese.

That was a wonderful ferry journey back, in late afternoon golden light, with ferries and local vessels all around.

Safely back in Igoumenitsa, at 11.59 p.m. we watched from the cool comfort of the dark quayside as IONIAN KING arrived in a blaze of lights.

I was so pleased to see her, as her name at one time was Lavender, which is one of my favourite colours thanks to my Union-Castle Line connections. I remembered that she was once chartered by a Japanese group for transporting football fans, and apparently for that trip she was renamed the Japanese equivalent of Hooligan! Funny how one remembers some things…

Ships seen: Pantokrator, Agia Theodora, Ekaterini P, Nikolaos, Polaris, Superfast VI, Splendor of the Seas, Norwegian Gem, Ocean Majesty, Olympic Champion, Sophocles V, Lefka On, Cruise Europa, Christina, Elene, Thiella

23 November 2010

Summer 2010 Part 3

Summer 2010
Part 3 – Ships and Swallows

click on pictures to enlarge

Friday 2nd July 2010
It’s to be a MOBY day today, which will be fun, embarking at 8.15 a.m. for the 9.00 a.m. sailing on MOBY FREEDOM (36,100 gross tons) from Genoa to Bastia in Corsica. Overnight Renaissance glory was exchanged for South Korean-built 2001 styling, I realised.

She was designed by the famous Knud E Hansen and her interiors were by Figura of Gothenburg, so she has Danish/Swedish styling. Breakfast on board was followed by looking around the full ship, enjoying the pleasures of being at sea in extreme heat and, after dipping a toe in the newly filled pool, deciding not to have a swim but enjoy the views from a deck chair.

But a couple of hours later the pool had heated up from the sun so some of us had a gorgeous swim. We arrived at Bastia at 1.45 p.m. ready to check into our overnight hotel, which looked out on the waterfront.

The cool of the evening was just an ideal time to take a stroll and find the favourite fish restaurant (Restaurant Memé) – the one with turquoise-coloured napkins – right beside the rocks and sea. The set menu of 18 Euros offered us crudités or fish soup, perch or mussels, Corsican cheese with fig jam, and fresh fruit salad or tiramisu. It was two years since I’d sat in the same place, with the same turquoise pashmina, and it was still as memorable. I know, little things please little minds, but one should appreciate the large and small things in life.

Ships seen: Corsica Victoria, Moby Freedom, Moby Vincent, Kalliste, Mega Express Five

Saturday 3rd July 2010
A pre-dawn alarm call set us up for sunrise photographs of the ‘Saturday rush’ into the port of Bastia, in a warm and comfortable temperature on the waterfront. The main town of Bastia is a little way behind and to the side of us, at the foot of the mountains, and I do like this area, nestling within the Corsican coast.

We joined the ship rush, leaving at 7.40 a.m. for Livorno on the Italian coast, on board MOBY CORSE.

She was built as DANA ANGLIA in 1978 in Denmark for DFDS, with Lindholmen-Pielstick diesel engines, sailing mostly between Harwich and Esbjerg. Mr Pielstick’s name seems quite memorable to me. In 1987 she was chartered to Sealink British Ferries. In 2002 she became DUKE OF SCANDINAVIA, then in 2006 she was chartered to Brittany Ferries and became PONT L’ABBE. In late 2009 she was sold to Moby Line and became MOBY CORSE, so we were very interested to see her today. She was sporting her Moby Loony Tunes pictures outside on the hull, and everywhere inside.

Despite the funnels emitting too much ‘stuff’, we enjoyed the hot and sunny trip with cooling breezes.

At Livorno a hire car was rented in the Ferry Terminal, to take us first to Piombino for a little trip, then to take over the mountains to leave in Ancona on Sunday. Outside the terminal building I noticed a row of custard yellow chairs, which seemed to tone in well with the Corsican ferries colours. It was so hot I’m surprised they didn’t soften and melt.

Richard had to leave the trip here in Piombino, so was waved off on Moby Aki, whilst we parked the car and prepared to board the famous PRIMROSE of Blunav.

It’s so interesting to see and sail on a vessel I’ve only previously read about; she was built in 1975 as PRINCESSE MARIE-CHRISTINE in Belgium, for Sealink’s Ostend to Dover route, then marketed for Townsend-Thoresen and, later Sally Line and, later still, taken over by Trans Europa Ferries. Subsequently, she was chartered to Comarit, before coming to Bluenavy as she is today. Her profile has been changed, and sponsons added, but I was fascinated to be able to sail on her. I loved the curve of the stern lounge, all the wood and original fittings, and the general feel of the old ship.

Off we sailed to Elba’s Portoferraio, another new port for me, enjoying the other sea traffic and ships when we arrived there.

After lots of manoeuvring (egos and one-up-manship involved here I think) we finally came alongside, only to have to do a bit of a fast walk ourselves to board MOBY LOVE, sailing back from Elba to Piombino. On the short walk though I did notice a sign that informed me they offered Baby Rents – shame I didn’t have time to investigate that…

MOBY LOVE was built in 1972 in Italy as the train ferry SAINT ELOI

for the Dover-Dunkirk route, and there are several pictures of her in Sealink colours. She was sold and renamed CHANNEL ENTENTE in 1989. The following year she was sold to Isle of Man Steam Packet and renamed KING ORRY, sailing between Isle of Man and Liverpool. In 1998 she was sold to Moby Lines and eventually became MOBY LOVE, then later that year became MOBY LOVE 2 to sail the Piombino to Elba route. Finally she dropped the 2 but continued doing the same route, as we can see today. Down on the car deck we could see the train lines from her early days, still visible under the green paint.

She took us back to Piombino, and the air-conditioned splendour of the hire car for the drive over the mountains to the outskirts of the city of Siena.

The hotel and spacious grounds were set amidst a hillside olive grove,

and as the lilac veil of dusk was falling we could enjoy the sight of the calm swimming pool, surrounded by lavender bushes and roses, with swallows swooping around. There was peace and calm for all of us.

Dinner was found and enjoyed at a local village establishment, and I see that my diary also includes a little questionnaire.

How many people in the world have:

Q1. Travelled on Dana Anglia, Princesse Marie-Christine and Saint Eloi in the same day?
A. AMH, MJM, JBP, on 3 July 2010

Q2. Travelled in subsequent days IN THE SAME DIRECTION, on Tor Scandinavia and Tor Britannia?

Q3. Post 1998, travelled on all 4 Sealink Saints in the same year?

Q4. Launched a coherent and comprehensive demolition of the case for rocket (salad) in a pizzeria in Siena?

Ships seen: Moby Corse, Primrose, Moby Love, Moby Aki, Aethalia (Moby Low Cost), Moby Ale, Moby Lally, Oclasa, Luigi Pa, Giraglia, Giovanni Bellini