musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Ocean Terminal

That last voyage across the harbour

In March 1990 a group of us went down to Durban to see the arrival of the Cunard cruise ship Vistafjord arrive. By way of explanation, I was a member of what was then the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society. We would occasionally go down to Durban over a weekend to see ships. Many times it was to see a specific vessel with a visit organised, and it would usually incorporate a trip out on the pilot boat or one of the tugs. Most of the vessels we visited are listed on my ship visit book page at allatsea. These were the days of film so we were limited by how many pics we could take which depended on how much film we had or could afford to process. It was an expensive exercise, and I shot mostly slide film back then and conversions to digital media is not always successful. 

The subject of this post is about a short voyage we made across the harbour on board the dedger Ribbok. She was in her last days, and was laid up at the Ocean Terminal awaiting disposal. The berth she was in had to be vacated for Vistafjord, and we were “in the area” when the pilot arrived. He was an amiable Dutch guy and usually tolerated our puppy dog eyed pleading and would allow us on board.

On sea trials. (Image by Pete Bower)

On sea trials. (Image by Pete Bower)

Ribbok was a diesel electric suction dredger, built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Glasgow as Yard No 698, she was launched on 11 November 1961 and registered in Durban.  She was of 4594 grt, 1726 net, 5120 dwt. and just over 110 metres long with a beam of 18 metres and draught of just over 5,4 metres. (

She was a regular sight in Durban and I would have loved to have spent a day on her, but dredgers are working vessels and really would have not been an ideal way to spend a day. 

Entering the harbour after a days work

Entering the harbour after a days work

Ribbok alongside

We boarded Ribbok and took up position, I no longer recall where, but we always kept out of the way of the crew or pilots during their work on a ship. The lines were singled and we were soon on our way, dead ship, with a tug at the bow and possibly the stern. The pilot remarked that the poor old girl was in a poor condition and that was obvious from the many rusted areas and plated over decking.

A last voyage

The vessel literally on top of the tug is the Estrella Do Mar, a small ferry that used to run up towards Zanzibar and Mozambique, she ended up in Durban in later years and we always hoped she would do coastals but that never happened. 

Then we were tied up alongside and we disembarked. We all felt saddened to see this stalwart like this, but unfortunately like so many ships before her there comes a time when she has to sail away forever. Ribbok had very little time left, she was broken up in July 1990 at Alang.

The replacement for Ribbok was the RE Jones, and amongst my images is an image of her alongside Ribbok. 

Bibbok inboard, RE Jones outboard

Bibbok inboard, RE Jones outboard

Unfortunately the scanner chopped off the bows of the pair but in the background you can see the Achille Lauro in her short lived StarLauro livery which puts this image at December 1989. I don’t think Ribbok ever wore the new corporate livery and had her SAR&H funnel livery till the end.

RE Jones underway in Durban

RE Jones underway in Durban

And what about Vistafjord? I have to admit I did find her somewhat of a disappointment, and I only really appreciated her when I saw her as Saga Ruby in Southampton in 2013.

Vistafjord arriving in Durban. march 1990


Saga Ruby sailing from Southampton 2013

And so our short voyage slipped away into memory, to resurface during a discussion at our tug group. Good memories, but a sad one too.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 15/09/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:37

More Triang Minic

Following on my post from 24 January 2016, my collection has expanded a bit more with some new acquisitions. 

To go with my RMS Ivernia, I have also acquired an RMS Carinthia, as a sister ship. I have also outfitted both ships with cargo gear and mainmasts.

Because the masts and cranes are pricey, I decided to remove the gear from one of my C4 Mariner Class cargo ships and use those on the two Cunarders and convert the C4 into a early container ship iteration. Fortunately I had a duplicate Volunteer Mariner so she ended up donating her cargo gear. 

The containers are left overs from my P&O City of Durban and I filed down the crane housings till they were level with the hatch covers and pasted the containers onto a false deck and glued that onto the hatchcovers. I stayed with only one stack of boxes though, too many would have left them with no view to the bow. I also added a foremast but  I am not quite done with this ship yet, and of course she does not have a name, but is more of a generic interim vessel.  

My other major acquisition was the “Might Mo”: USS Missouri,
I have also been working on and off on the HMY Britannia. This model was available in the Royal Yacht livery as well as in a hospital ship livery. She was built to be easily convertible to a hospital ship in the event that she was needed, but she never fulfilled that role in her long career. Triang Minic used to sell the model as part of a boxed set  
In 2014 I bought a Revell 1/1200 QE2 model, the intention being to waterline it and add it to the collection. 
I bought the paint and brushes and packed it all away and never built it, and like the original ship  it has been languishing in limbo until last month when I got it back with the rest of my collection from storage in Lichfield.  Last night I attacked it with a saw and cut away the underwater part of the hull and started to build it. The big problem is trying to find the sheer line as it is not really marked on the model. I also used gloss black instead of matt black as the matt paint is really lousy.I am probably going to have to give it a 2nd coat so will see how the matt works on it.  By this morning the QE2 was looking somewhat odd.  
It is not a very complicated kit, but the painting is a pain. the upper deck has not been glued down yet, but the fore and aft decks have. And the funnel has had its first coat. This is very close to the livery that I saw her in in 1986, although she did have a few changes in her stern area then. 
Alongside Ocean Terminal in Durban 1986

Alongside Ocean Terminal in Durban 1986

I will try get more pics of her before I glue down the main deck,  at the moment I am waiting for paint to dry.
I have a 1/2000 QE2 model that was bought for me on board QE2 in 1994. It does not have any makers identification on it and I have been looking all over for an answer and finally found it on the 2nd day of 2017!  The model was made by S.R. Precision in the UK, and was available with a blue hull too. Unfortunately it is not a very good likeness and it does not fit in with my 1/1200 and 1/1250 fleet, but it is an interesting keepsake. 

S.R. Precision QE2 Model

Meanwhile, back at the building dock QE2 is looking more like QE2 every hour. 
First coat on funnel and fore and aft decks painted. Lifeboats are still not on. Big problem is that the davits were all black at this particular part of her career, but frankly painting them black was a lot of work, and I decided to leave them white. I may do it later. The other question is, what colour was the roof of her bridge and the suites as well as around the funnel?
Lifeboats are added, most of the superstructure elements are in place and I am starting to look at the fit onto the hull. It was not a good fit. 
But eventually I got it on and started to fit the bridge and their wings as well as try to make sense of her sheer line, as you can see it is wobbly as can be. I will sort that once all is built and when there is better natural light. I did give it a coat of matt black and it looks better. Now to fit forward cranes and mast and touch up paintwork 
Mast is on, cranes are on. I have not given the funnel its final coat as I have white drying in the funnel area. She is more or less completed now and she just needs touching up, the sheer line needs finalising, and of course I have to add colour to the lifeboats, at one point their superstructures were orange and I do not have orange paint. I have also seen her with green above the bridge. The QE2 changed many times over the years, and this model has her original thin funnel which puts this before 1986, and probably just after the Falklands when they gave her the traditional Cunard funnel livery. I was also considering giving her a false flat bottom, but must first complete her properly and then she can join the fleet. Gee, I enjoyed that bit of model building.
A postscript. 
QE2 and Canberra were contemporaries, and that is partly one of the reasons I bought the model; to see them together once more, but on 1/1200 scale.
I was also able to buy a 1/1250 Oriana to add to the collection, and while it is a small scale it does fit in well with the QE2 and Canberra. The model is by Mercator and it sold for £20 on board the ship when we sailed on her.

(B-F) QE2, Oriana and Canberra

(B-F) QE2, Oriana and Canberra

My newest addition is really one of two similar vessels operated by the French Line.  The ill fated SS Flandre, or SS Antilles were both lost to fire. My particular model is numbered M714 “Flandre” so I will stick with that. Incidentally, she was also known as the “Flounder”, and was lost to fire in 1994.  

I acquired a pair of Ton Class Minesweeper. Actually I now have two of them,  the ship on the left (HMS *.ton) I got from The Triang version (HMS Repton) is on the right. 

A finally a particularly rare beastie came my way: SS France. I repainted her and added in masts and this is the end result. Unfortunately she never joined the other major liners that were re-introduced in later years from Hong Kong and tends to be hard to find. Her funnels do not have their distinctive wings though, and I believe that this was the original funnel design.  

One of the more rare Triang ships out there is HMS Albion in her “Commando Carrier” guise.  I had a spare scrap HMS Bulwark laid up so decided to convert her into an HMS Albion. Here the pair of them are together, Albion being in front. I bought 5 x 1/1250 Westland Wessex helicopters for her and am busy trying to make rotors for them, Ye gads, what a job that was! 

Other acquisitions are:

TSS Vikingen (Triang MInic)

Since repainted and with masts and cargo gear, although I am not too enamoured by those overly heavy masts. I may rethink those (since replaced).

And SS Varicella

USS Spruance (DD963), the lead ship of the  Spruance class destroyers.

USS Bunker Hill (CG52), a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser

HMS Gloucester (D96), a type 42 batch 3 destroyer

USS Guardian (MCM5) An Avenger Class mine countermeasures ship

HMS Bangor (M109), a Sandown Class minehunter. I also have her sister HMS Penzance (M105)

and finally a Hunt class mine countermeasures vessel. She has no pennant number, although I do have her sister HMS Brocklesbury  (M33)

At this point my Minic Ship collection really becomes a small part of my much larger waterline ship collection which started to grow alongside it, eventually overtaking it and leaving it behind. You can read about that collection here or by using the arrow below.
DRW ©  2016-2019. Created 05/03/2016. Updated 20/08/2016, 02/01/2017. Removed all links that point to the former triangminicships page which now has an error “Executing in an invalid environment for the supplied user” 14/07/2019
Updated: 14/07/2019 — 15:23

Triang Minic Ships

Many years ago. I had a huge collection of model ships and boats, including two radio controlled tugs. The smaller waterline diecast vessels I had never really indulged in because I did not know that they existed. A visit to the home of one of the friends of a friend opened my eyes because he had the three major liners (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and United States) in 1/1200 scale, and they were the start of my collection. The links in this page all point to the page, but it appears as if that page has “bit the dust” so I am going to remove those links. 
The first Triang Minic ship I acquired was the Aragon. She was in a poor condition and minus masts and half of her bridge wing. I repainted it and made masts out of pins and put her on my shelf as an oddity amongst my collection. I still have her today, bad paint job and all.

Then things went quiet until I picked up an advert in a local newspaper for somebody selling a collection. There were 2 Cunarders in it, as well as the Queen Elizabeth and two tugs and a light vessel and some bits and pieces of harbour. This was in the pre internet days so there was no real way of finding out what was available. He also wanted R500-00 for it, and given my dead end salary it was really out of my price range. I came very close to buying it, but never did. Awhile later I picked up a slightly used Queen Elizabeth and added her to my collection too. She was resprayed by a friend and her funnels need a lot of work.

I have recently found masts for her, and one day will do something about the funnels.
That was the sum total of my collection for many years. There were rumours of a huge collection being sold out of the country, but I had no way of knowing what was available apart from the two Cunarders I had seen and the three major liners. Nothing happened for a long time but I used to haunt the hobby shops hoping to build onto my collection and at some point I managed to pick up a Queen Mary.
The model above is not my original Queen Mary though, this one I found in Salisbury in 2014.  
I also found a mint United States in South Africa which was really surprising. By now we were in the internet era and I would haunt the net looking for more ships, the problem was no longer a lack of ships, it was more about an exchange rate that made them very expensive and postage that was never guaranteed.   
My last South African acquisitions were on a local auction site, namely the Aquitania which does need a lot of work. 
as well as a Canberra in a poor condition
and a mastless model of the NS Savannah
I have since replaced my Canberra with a better one and found white metal masts for the Savannah. 
Triang also had a range of warships, and while I did not really look for them I would buy them if they were affordable, and I managed to acquire a DKM Bismarck
as well as an IJN Yamato
When I left South Africa in 2013 I left my ships behind, but hoped to get them back with me at some point and to add to my collection until then. 
In 2013 I attended the Maritime Festival in Southampton, and on display there was an almost complete collection of Triang Minic ships and I was able to see what I was missing (and there was a lot).  My first acquisition in the UK was the Queen Mary pictured above as well as a Naval Harbour Set.
That set included HMS Bulwark and HMS Vanguard.
I also started watching ebay and buying modern warships that interested me. Including HMS Daring, HMS York,  HMS Chatham and of course HMS Ark Royal.
I also picked up three very nice C4 Mariner class cargo ships. 
and even bought a Ellermans container ship: City of Durban
and a thumping great bulker too.
I brought my collection across in 2014 and it was still small compared to what it could be.

The 2014 Maritime Festival in Southampton once again had a Minic collection on display and I did quite a lot of drooling over it. 

More importantly, I was able to add the Caronia to my collection, she has since had her upperworks painted in a lighter green. 
and bought a Canberra in a better condition to replace my existing one. 
My most recent acquisitions were DKM Scharnhorst 
as well as SS Nieuw Amsterdam 
and RMS Ivernia 
Sadly she is in need of a lot of work, but considering that she is quite an oldish model I was lucky to find her. Those missing Cunarders still haunt me though (Carinthia, Carmania, Franconia, Sylvania and Saxonia), but considering how many years it has taken to get to this point anything can happen. I am also on the lookout for an SS France to complete my major liner collection. 
and I would like to add an American battleship to my battleship collection
But that is for the future. Anything can happen in these collections, it seems to happen in spurts and bumps, and who knows what I will have tomorrow.

My passenger ship collection.


The Triang Minic ships are nice momentos for a ship buff like myself, but once again, they are only of worth to a collector like myself, and not to somebody else. So hands off my stash!  (I have images of my 2016 expanded harbour available too)
There is a part 2 to this post which may be found here 


DRW ©  2016-2019. Images migrated 02/05/2016. Added pointer to part 2 of the post 20/08/2016, added “open in new tab” option to links and unbolded them. 12/11/2018. Removed all links that point to the former triangminicships page which now has an error “Executing in an invalid environment for the supplied user” 14/07/2019.
Updated: 14/07/2019 — 15:21

Random Shipwatch: Huelin Dispatch

One ship that I have seen  on a number of occasions is Huelin Dispatch. Operated by Huelin Renouf Shipping,she serves the Channel Islands. Or should I say, used to serve the Channel Islands, because today the company stopped trading.


The vessel usually berths at the end of the Ocean Dock (Berth 45), and is a regular in the harbour, often sailing just after the cruise ships have left. She always does this without assistance, and many times I have been quite surprised to see her going astern out of the Ocean Dock before executing a turn and sailing away without any fuss at all. She is really a fixture, kind of like the Red Funnel Ferries and the bunkering tankers or tugs. 

She entered service in September 2012, and ran into trouble almost immediately when she hit rocks off the coast of Alderney on her maiden voyage.
Sadly, the demise of the company will mean the loss of 90 jobs from a company that has been serving the Channel Islands since 1935. It is hoped that some sort of rescue plan will be formulated so that this unique service, and vessel does not end completely.
I will post an update here as son as I hear more, but I am really looking for some of the pics I took of her. I know she was amongst the first ships I saw when I arrived in Southampton, little did I know that nearly 5 months later I would be watching her possible demise.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 10/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:40

Things I have learnt as a baggage handler.

Recently I have been working as a baggage handler at the cruise terminals in Southampton, it is really manual muscle work as opposed to brain work. I have also traveled as a passenger on aircraft and ships and may never view my luggage in quite the same way.
The views in this post are my own and reflect no official policy in force.
I have worked 7 shifts already and my muscles keep on reminding me that this is hard graft. However, I do get a vicarious thrill out of it for a number of reasons. The most important being that I am near ships.  Standing at Town Quay wielding a camera is great, but there is something even more special when you stand at the quayside and watch a large ship berthing. The vessel is so close that you could almost reach out and touch her. You can hear the noise of her engines and bow thrusters, and see the berthing crews standing at the hawse pipes with the  lines ready to come ashore.
Crown Princess

Crown Princess

Once the vessel is alongside a well oiled machine takes over. The airbridge is attached, the crew and services gangway is raised, shelldoors open and platforms are extended, forklifts move hither and thither moving conveyors, trolleys, bridges, cages, and all manner of things inbetween. On the night before the passengers luggage has been moved to central points on board from where it gets moved by conveyor or cage onto the quayside and then into the baggage hall where it is laid out in some sort of logical (and often illogical sequence). It is a frenzied period of activity which seems mocked by the quiet serenity of the ship alongside.

The passengers are many decks above the dockside level, and often peer down at all this organised chaos. I have stood in their position myself so know how it feels, although when I was cruising things were a bit more disorganised.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

By the time the passengers have started disembarking we have sorted the luggage and moved onto other tasks, usually portering or trolley recovery. Given how most ships carry in excess of 1000 passengers, there could be anything between 1500 and 5000 items of luggage moving between ship, baggage hall, and passenger. It can been chaotic as passengers look for their luggage, but as time passes the hall becomes less crowded and some sort of normality starts coming about. (On 8 August I worked Ventura, for’ard conveyor, and counted in 1900 + items of luggage. There were was another conveyor working aft)


Of course while we are scurrying about like ants on shore, on board the ship things are happening too. The vessel must be fueled, and stored, and cabins prepared for the next round of inbound passengers. Every ship photographers bugbear will attach itself alongside and start loading fuel and offloading garbage, crew will paint and wash windows, and some crew members will go ashore to shop or look around the city.

Oriana in the background,  Whitonia alongside Celebrity Eclipse

Oriana in the background, Whitonia alongside Celebrity Eclipse

There is a lull at this point, and we reconfigure the system to handle inbound passengers. My favourite terminal has conveyors that lead into the baggage hall, and inbound luggage is stacked next to the conveyor entrance where it will be loaded once the embarkation starts. From there it will be moved onto a cage and transferred onto the ship, either via a conveyor or cage. On board ship it will be sorted and distributed to decks and cabins.  This is a hectic time because the ship has to sail, and cannot be held up while we load bags, and, as has happened before, the priority changes as sailing time gets closer.

Adventure of the Sea

A well managed embarkation will ensure that passengers arrive in a steady flow as opposed to huge amounts at once.  We will work constantly while around us passengers move from their transportation to the queue and finally onto the vessel. It is hoped that by the time the vessel sails their luggage will be at their cabin, but often that is not the case, and I expect some passengers get their luggage long after the ship has sailed. 

At some point we will see the pile getting smaller, and the queues shorter. Coaches stop arriving, taxi’s become less, and we start closing conveyors. The cage loaders will start seeing gaps in the queue too, and it takes longer to find 25 bags to fill a cage. Then we get the signal to pack up and sign off.

Crown Princess

Crown Princess

The terminal becomes a ghost town apart from the odd label blowing in the wind or the empty soft drink tins that line the area where we loaded. The baggage hall is now being filled with the detritus of baggage handling and the porters dollies start to fill their storage area once again. The ship, now full of passengers, starts to take on the chaotic role, but it will soon become a haven of peace as everybody settles down to their new home for the duration of the cruise.
Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

We are also on our way home, in my case it is a long walk home and then a bath and supper. Or, in some cases, a dash down to Mayflower Park to see a ship sail. From my photographic vantage point  I will watch to see the lines being dropped and then taken in, and see that first puff of smoke from the funnel. And if we are lucky the vessel will blow her horn, and I will hear the safety announcements, which often sound like a sermon on board some of the vessels.


Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

Then the ship will start to move, an independent floating city that will twinkle with light, and the sounds of music. She will pass all us shorebound photographers and our cameras will click away, trying to capture that perfect shot.


Then she will be past, and on her way down Southampton Water, and the Solent, and whatever destination she has after that. Occasionally one of the ferries will try get in on the act, but we are used to that.
Red Eagle and Oriana

Red Eagle and Oriana

Then it is time for me to go home, and I will have to process more pics and add them to my collection. I recall how in the days of film we would have to wait at least a week to see the results of our efforts, today I can edit images almost immediately.




And that was a look at my day as a baggage handler.

However there are a few things I would like to add, from the perspective of somebody moving luggage. It’s really only of relevance to people taking a cruise, or somebody moving their luggage for them. 

Crown Princess

Crown Princess

You will be shocked as to how many people don’t take many sensible precautions with their luggage. The tag that goes on your bag is supposed to refer to where your luggage is going. On board ship there are many places: Fore, Aft, Midships and any cabin and deck in-between. These tags do go missing, and so your luggage could end up somewhere it shouldn’t or in limbo. When we sort luggage we look for the fore/aft/mid designation and it gets shunted to a cage or pallet for that designation. If there is no tag it usually ends up midships. If your cabin/deck is not on that luggage then somebody has to try to find a list of cabin numbers and figure out just where you are. 
Queen Mary 2 at QEII Terminal

Queen Mary 2 at QEII Terminal

Which brings me to your name. Please add your name onto your luggage, somewhere. Preferably 2 different places. the more robust the label is, the more chance it will have of getting to you intact.
Ah, and the bags that survive the best are those that are strongly built. Many bags we see are really shoddy and do not stand up to the punishment of handling. The bags realistically move from conveyor to conveyor and then onto the ship. They are picked up by hand, and they have other bags stacked on top of them. Giant bags that weigh more than we do just don’t make the grade because often that giant bag is not meant to hold the kitchen sink and dishwasher.
Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

Wheelie bags are great because they have many grabbing points and handles. A non wheelie bag only has one handle. Invariably wheelie bags are placed wheels upwards on the conveyor because the wheels tend to make moving the bag on rollers very difficult. The bags generally are placed flat on the conveyors and not upright. These hard cased bags seem to stand up to the punishment better, but from our perspective they tend to be bulky and heavy. You would be surprised to see how many bruises I have on my shins already from moving luggage.

Crown Princess (Mayflower Terminal)

Suit carriers are a major headache because they get stuck in the machinery. Many have hooks that will get entangled in something. Try to avoid those or carry them on yourself. Oh, and please don’t load your suitcase down with unprotected bottles of alcohol, wrap those bottles well and then put them in a plastic bag. Bottles will get broken, your clothes could end up smelling like an off license.  

Small fiddly locks will come off, as will those ID straps that people festoon their bags with. Tags will come off, and the marker flower attached to your handle may come off too. If you must make your bag easy to see please be practical about it.
MSC Opera

MSC Opera

I know we often joke about bright pink or luminous green bags, they stand out, and they are the ones easily found by their owners, although explaining to somebody that your puce wheelie bag is missing will bog down when you try to describe what colour puce is. 
On many occasions we see bags that are not secured properly. We don’t have the time to sort that out, after all it is your responsibility. An average ship will have in excess of 1500 pieces of luggage to be loaded and offloaded. Some ships may have as many as 5000 items. The loading window is small, and sometimes the first to arrive is the last to get their bags, that’s because they get stored on board for final sorting and delivery by the crew. It does happen that your first bag on board is at the furthest point where the sorting is being done. We have no control over that aspect at all.
Enjoy your trip, and remember, we will be waiting for you when you get off.

Mein Schiff 1 and Norwegian Breakaway.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 08/04/2016 
Updated: 11/03/2018 — 09:20

Southampton Maritime Festival. Day 2

And so day 2 of the Maritime Festival at Southampton arrived. You can read about the first day on its relevant page. Scheduled for the day was another Lancaster flyover, as well as my cruise on Shieldhall. I also wanted to revisit some of the things from the previous day, especially the large second hand book stall. 
But firstly…. there were more strange old buses.This one instantly reminded me of the old Johannesburg bus service (when it still worked)



The day was a “bank holiday” and the weather was glorious, although I was still feeling somewhat chilly.

Once inside I was confronted by two rows of immaculate Rolls Royce cars. I have never seen so many of them in one place at a time. I would hate to know how much money was standing there just free to look at. I did try to photograph them all, but there were just too many. Maybe one day I will put up an album of them. 


I did find it interesting that the real oldies attracted the most attention, the vehicle below was so popular I was not able to get a photograph of it without people standing around it, but then it was beautiful. A true classic.


There were supposed to be diving displays in the now unused Trafalgar Dry Dock, but it only seemed to be used by these guys in the canoe, (and I have no idea what they were doing either), as well as some model yachts that were sailing around inbetween canoe exploits. Maybe I missed seeing the divers because they were under the water?


A few additional exhibits had turned up for this day, including this beautiful old Austin 10, which would have fitted comfortably inside most modern homes.


And this Willy’s Jeep that seemed to be hiding a 50 Browning behind that cover. Those of us “in the know” were not fooled one bit!


And while this was going on the harbour continued all around us. The ferries ran as normal, ship loading happened, and sailings would go on just past us.


On the first day the only cruise ship sailing was Adventure of the Seas, and on this day Europa 2 was scheduled to sail at 18H00. Our own departure on board Shieldhall was scheduled for 16H00, and round about 14H00 we started hanging around her for embarkation and to await the Lancaster flypast. I was hoping for better pics this time around and did get a few.

If ever you want a crowds attention; tell them that there is a Lancaster flypast in a few minutes.

Then it was time to board the fine ship Shieldhall for our cruise. The ship wasn’t too crowded, although many of the best spots were taken up by photographers, but we literally had a free run of the vessel, including the engine room. Our route took us past Town Quay, up towards Mayflower Terminal where we would turn around and retrace our wake right through till past Hythe pier and back again. There were not a lot of ships in the harbour though, but it did give one the opportunity to see parts of Southampton Western Docks from a different angle.


Southampton City Terminal

Southampton City Terminal

Former graving dock

Former graving dock

Container Berths

Container Berths

Town Quay area

Town Quay area


Berth 38/39. Heading down Southampton Water towards the Solent

Berth 38/39. Heading down Southampton Water towards the Solent

Southampton Ocean Terminal

Southampton Ocean Terminal

And all too soon it was all over and we were coming alongside. There was no bow or stern thruster to help, just good old fashioned seamanship.

As I walked back home most of the exhibits had been broken up already, and only the steam traction engines were rattling their way home too. It had been a great day, the highlight being that short trip on a real ship. It made me wish that I could attend next year too.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images and links recreated 05/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:11

Southampton Maritime Festival. Day 1

I was very happy when I saw them advertising the Maritime Festival for 5 and 6 May in Southampton. Not only did it give me a chance to see a lot of interesting vessels, but also portions of the port that are generally closed to people not going on a cruise or physically working there. I also was hoping to get a trip out on board Shieldhall before I left Southampton, and this was my opportunity. 
The festival was held at the Ocean Terminal and the area surrounding what is left of the old Trafalgar dry dock, and it was expected that we would have visits from some of the Dunkirk little ships as well as traction engines and vintage/exotic motor vehicles. Being held over two days I have split the festival into 3 pieces. The first being Day 1, then Day 2, then the trip on Shieldhall. The posts will be very graphics heavy so a cup of tea may help pass the time while the images are loading. However, watch this space.
My first inkling of things to come was the appearance of buses from a different era at the bus stop nearby. I am used to the look of the Southampton buses by now, so anything different catches my eye. I cannot ID any though because I am not too familiar with buses. 
Of course being stopped by the Red Caps just inside the harbour gates made me feel right at home. I believe the Military Police here were called “Pebble Bashers”, although we preferred to call them  “Meat Pies”. 
While this nice VAD Nurse was quick to point out that she had an enema kit and knew how to use it.  There were  a number of people wearing period uniforms and displaying World War 2 related equipment, and they really helped to generate interest.

Of course no festival is complete without at least one pipe band. And we had one of them, although they did not seem to play enough for my liking.

Just past the Calshot Spit Lightship was where the “little ships” were to berth. I found a nice empty spot and decided I would hang around there to see what happened. It turns out it was one of the best spots to be because the ships would come around Shieldhall’s bow and come alongside more or less where I was standing. The first major arrival was the preserved Thames steam tug Challenge which is going to be based in Southampton from now on. 

She has a real oldtime look about her, although I was missing the roiling clouds of smoke that should have been coming from her traditional funnel.  Still, she is a pretty one and I enjoyed looking over her later that day. She is a Dunkirk survivor, and was launched in 1931. 
Then there were the “little ships”, the most menacing being the harbour defence launch ML1387 “Medusa”
Also attending was RAF Rescue Launch 102, that I had recently seen in Portsmouth. The motto of the RAF Air Sea Rescue Service was “The Sea Shall Not Have Them”, and many aircrew owed their lives to these vessels and their crew.
MTB 102 was also present. She too served at Dunkirk, and holds the distinction of being the fastest wartime British Naval vessel (48 knots). The Abdiel Class minelayers could reach 39.75 knots, so they would not be able to outrun this MTB.
But as far as I am concerned one of the real beauties was the Victorian steam yacht Amazon, a true timeless classic that just draws the eye. She dates from 1885 and was probably the oldest vessel in the flotilla of ships attending the festival.
Of course there were other things to see/do on the day.  For starters there were some traction engines (in lieu of real steam engines I guess). An extremely shiney Sentinel Steam Wagon caught my eye, and I could not help but mentally compare it to the neglected steam traction that we have back home.

A very nice Aveling & Porter that reminded me a lot of the steam roller “Judy” that was in steam at the James Hall Museum of Transport during the late 80’s.

And finally there was a very nice Fowler traction engine that had lots of moving bits and turning flywheels and an active whistle too. Sadly though none really went anywhere, but then I suppose H&S would have had to do a risk assessment and issue guidelines and generate reams of paperwork.
And while on the subject of Whistles. There was supposed to be a steam whistle challenge between Shieldhall and Challenge that did not really happen. I suspect one or both did not quite have enough puff left. But once they rectified that it was a different story. Shieldhall has a very “strange” siren, and I did manage to capture it on video. 

The bell mouthed object is the siren, and makes the odd noises, while the long pipe is the proper ships whistle which is beautiful to hear but not really preferred it seems. 

Even the Navy was present, although they did seem a bit lost without a ship. There were members of HMS Collingwood helping out at the festival wearing their best outfits and I was almost green with envy.
There was one highlight that everybody was waiting for, eyes glued to the sky, cameras at the ready. The last remaining flying Lancaster PA474 from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was scheduled to do a flyover at rough;y 16H00. It was a long wait because we did not know if the weather would keep her down, or if she was coming at all, or which direction she was coming from. However, I soon heard an unfamiliar noise and saw a speck tracking across the sky. She had arrived!

It was one of those oooh moments. And I could not decide whether to film it, photograph it, or watch it. I finally decided on a combination of all three. The noise is so unfamiliar, and I could not but help think that if you multiplied it by 1000 then you may have known what a 1000 bomber raid must have sounded like during World War 2.

The one area where I did spend a lot of time was at the “army” display. And it was quite nostalgic too, especially when I ended up comparing notes about being a conscript with somebody that had been a conscript in the UK. Strangely enough a lot of their experiences were the same as mine, except mine were in Afrikaans.

I did get to try out a Sten which was probably one of those guns from my childhood that I really wanted to try out (thank you Battle Picture Library
And of course there was a Thompson Machine Gun (aka Tommy Gun) which is another weapon I drooled about as a youngster, except it did require a violin case to carry it in.
Neither could I assist with their broken staff car….

And, the army had brought along a searchlight, and I could not help remember the old Rand East Show when they SADF used to shine the searchlights from the Milner Park Showgrounds. I suppose these are all obsolete now, and would not conform to some obscure EU directive anyway.
Of course much of this is out of sequence, because I ended the day on board SS Shieldhall, and after spending quite a lot of time on board her departed with a ticket in my grubby hands for a cruise on board on the next day.  

She is a magnificent vessel, with no pretensions about being anything but a working vessel. She has all the required shiplike appurtenances and tiddly bits. She is well maintained and well loved too, and is probably one of the most loved preserved vessels in the United Kingdom. I will cover her in a separate blogpost  because there is so much to say and see about her.

Inside the Ocean terminal there were a lot of organisations touting for business, and I had lots of chats with some of the stall holders, you just can’t help reminiscing about the “good ole’ days when the QE2 was ‘ere”. Southampton has a rich passenger ship heritage that is part of the history of the port. And while the Titanic does seem to attract most of the attention most ship buffs do recall the many other ships that called Southampton their home.
Then it was time to go home. It had been an awesome day. I cannot even begin to cover most of what I saw, I believe there were over 5000 people on that day, and the warm weather meant that many shed their drab winter gear.

So, to close off the first day I will leave you with an image of a child in a gas mask. Now wasn’t that a great idea? I am sure his mum will come and fetch him eventually. But until she does, continue onwards to Day 2 of the Maritime Festival

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 04/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:12

Hullo Southampton

Today, 7 April 2013 I packed my bags and headed for the port of Southampton. Like with London I do feel a connection to this city and its port, probably because so much of my maritime literature featured Southampton very strongly, and of course this is where the ill fated Titanic sailed from. When I did my original planning before coming to the UK I had listed Southampton as the destination where I would go once I left London, 
Of course ships will rate very high on my list of things to do/see while I am in this city. In fact, in a short period of six hours I saw two cruise ship sailings already. The first being P&O’s Ventura.


Followed shortly thereafter by Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Many years ago, during the 1950’s and 60’s these self same Western Docks would see rows of major passenger vessels, Our own Union-Castle Line would have had at least two ships in port every week.

Union-Castle ships in Southampton

So many years later the character of the docks has changed, containerisation has killed the traditional cargo ship and cruise liners now berth where once passenger ships from all around the world plied their trade.
And of course the Queen Elizabeth or Queen Mary would have dominated every other ship afloat when they were calling. Alas those days have passed and today we have to take what we can get. The two cruise ships above don’t really do much for me, I have seen much better looking. And, by the looks of it there are quite a few arrivals and sailings scheduled for the next month. On top of that is the anniversary of the sailing of the Titanic from these very docks 
How long will I be here? till 8 May probably, after that? who knows. I am going to do my job hunting here and hopefully be lucky, or will have to move on. Either way though, I intend to ship watch and visit the Hollybrook Cemetery to pay my respects to our fallen Mendi Men who are commemorated there, and I know that will be a sad occasion.
Till the next time I visit my blog, I shall leave you with photograph of SS Shieldhall, a really nice looking vessel that is more up my line. At any rate, it will be a change from cemeteries.
I finally left Southampton in October 2013, it had been a fascinating few months for me, and this prequel does not even touch the surface of what I saw and did. Follow the story from here, there is much to see, and much to discover.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 29/03/2016.
Updated: 02/02/2018 — 07:56
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