Black Watch 29th October 2016, Part 1
Saturday 29th October 2016
This is to be a mystery weekend trip on BLACK WATCH, sailing from Harwich, in Essex. Fortunately the first part of my day started without mystery, by getting an early train to London Gatwick Airport. There I met one of my travelling companions who had very kindly offered me a lift to Harwich. We were soon there and parked near The Ha'penny Pier, ready for what we called a little trip round the bay. The sun shone down and the sea was as calm as the proverbial millpond as we watched the harbour ferry HARBOUR FERRY approach in its golden glory. Nearby was Lightship Vessel number 18, built in 1958 but now retired and used as a party boat I believe, and in the distance we could see another laid-up Trinity House lightship. Whilst we were standing on the Pier I was looking down at the water and suddenly realised that a seal was looking up at me, from just a few feet away. He obviously realised I had no fish or food to give him, so dived back underwater and swam away. That was fun.
We bought return tickets to and from Shotley on the Suffolk side of the River Stour and boarded the little ferry that in a previous life had been a lifeboat on CANBERRA although now with a tiny added Bridge. We set off and sailed past Trinity House's PATRICIA at a nearby quay and then we could see BLACK WATCH at her berth at the Harwich International Cruise Terminal some distance away at Parkeston. I could see a large Danish container vessel being loaded at a berth at the busy working terminal Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, which is on the north side of the river and nearer the sea. We approached the Shotley quayside on the peninsula which is between the River Stour and River Orwell in Suffolk. People disembarked and others embarked on this foot and bicycle ferry, which can carry a maximum of 58 passengers and 20 bicycles, but we were very lightly loaded today.
After another calm journey back to the Harwich Ha'penny Pier we went for lunch at The Pier Hotel Restaurant which offered delicious fresh food, including venison. Then it was time to drive to the Cruise Terminal and check in for our mystery two night/one port cruise on BLACK WATCH. I have enjoyed four trips on her in the past and was looking forward to another one today. We were soon checked in and on board, and met up with our other travelling companions. Nearby we could see the huge SEAJACKS LEVIATHAN vessel.
Afternoon Tea was available, followed by Lifeboat drill, and the various bars were soon open before we sailed from Harwich at 6 p.m. I noticed the Bookmark Cafe on Deck 7 offers a big range of premium hot drinks and a large choice of chocolates! I think I might need to visit this place another time... Dinner was in the Glentanar Restaurant on Deck 6 forward and our group second sitting was at 8.30 p.m. but we noticed passengers could also dine in the Garden Cafe. Food and service were most enjoyable and then it was Showtime which we all enjoyed too.
Ships seen: Black Watch, Harbour Ferry, Seajacks Leviathan, Trinity House's Patricia built in 1982, LV 18 party ship
To be concluded...