FERRYING IN '15, 25th June, SNAV Sardegna
Thursday 25th June 2015 (continued)
At the railway station we bought tickets for Palermo, further west along the northern coast of Sicily, and caught the 13.50 train. During the journey I enjoyed dozing, listening to music, or drinking water, and I finally managed to finish reading last Friday's English daily newspaper. I had been reading various pages over the week, and discarding them for recycling as I went, but this all made very little difference to the weight of my rucksack.
We arrived at Palermo station at 17.29 later that afternoon, in great heat, and immediately noticed the sleeping dogs lying on one of the platforms. We all know what we have to do with them, don't we. We decided to take a taxi to the port, as it was some distance away, and once there we could see our ship for the night's sail from here in Palermo: SNAV SARDEGNA, of Grandi Nave Veloci (GNV).
My friend wanted to photograph some other ships so I climbed the metal staircase on the quayside and boarded the vessel midships. She seemed huge after the morning's little ferries; she is 33,336 gross tons, was built in 1989 as OLAU HOLLANDIA, became PRIDE OF LE HAVRE, and then SNAV SARDEGNA. I looked around some of the public areas and was particularly impressed with some of the original artwork in Reception.
Out on deck I could see LA SUPREMA in her new logo paintwork, which is not universally popular I believe. It is certainly noticeable.
Black smoke was coming out of our funnels for about 10 minutes, but once the ropes were let go we knew we were about to sail, on time, at 8 p.m. We saw the Pilot boat approach our starboard side, and then could see the Pilot himself stepping on the bow of his vessel. He held a mobile phone tightly to his right ear with his right hand all the time we could see him, and presumably was also talking into it; as we watched he continued talking into his phone as he stepped onto the inside deck of the SNAV SARDEGNA. The pilot boat pulled away and we gathered speed and turned to leave the harbour. I have never seen a Pilot board a vessel in this way before, and can't believe he was talking to the Captain. Hmm, seems a bit of a cavalier approach to what I always thought of as a professional job of work......
On the way out of the harbour we passed a small ship A F MICHELA which was half painted, as if her future life might be changing. I later discovered that this was her eighth name since she was built in 1974, and I have seen her before but with one of those previous names.
One of my friends said she is a really fascinating ship, and that he can claim something of a personal interest in her. "Like the Laurana she is ex-Adriatica, although from a slightly earlier, 1970s, generation. She did some really long voyages in her time, such as Venice-Dubrovnik-Piraeus-Heraklion-Alexandria, one of the final great cross-Med ferry routes. She was rebuilt in the early 90s but, before that, Michael Palin travelled on her when he went around the world in 80 days: http://palinstravels.co.uk/book-8. There is a brief history of the ship: http://www.adriaticandaegeanferries.com/adriatica/eseeng.html here."
My friend notes the last page hasn't been updated for her most recent sale, which is to local Sicilian operators for use to the remoter islands around the coast of Sicily. Now we know why she was only half-painted when we saw her.
My friend also notes that
"She is something of a personal favourite as she was my very first Southern European (outside the Canary Islands) ship when I sailed on her during her final years with Adriatica from Brindisi to Patras back in August 1999 - so she was the first of many! We caught up with her again in 2011 on what was a rather damp sailing to Albania and she is very '1980s Adriatica' on board, similar in some ways to the Laurana."
After sailing from Palermo in Sicily, we were heading for Naples, back on the Italian mainland, where we are due at 6 a.m. tomorrow. We made our way to the formal Restaurant, which was about a quarter full, for an evening meal. It was very cold in there and I had to collect some warmer clothing; the waiting staff had a very casual attitude to taking orders or delivering them, but the food was pleasant. After dinner I had a final warming-up session by going to the disco and dancing with some charming Italian ladies who made me welcome, so the evening ended on a high note.
Ships seen: A F Michela, SNAV Sardegna of GNV, Splendid, La Suprema in new GNV colours, TransHawk, Palladio of Siremar being worked on, MSC Opera also being worked on, Minerva Uno
To be continued...