Heading back from Ryde

Carrying on where we left off….

There was one thing I needed to see and that was the Portsmouth Naval Memorial at Southsea, it was designed not only as a memorial, but also as a leading mark for shipping. In the image below the memorial is the white tower with the greenish ball on top of it. It is a very impressive memorial, and one of three similar memorials that were erected to the casualties of the Royal Navy.
 
Shieldhall was now heading back to Southampton at a leisurely pace. The weather was hot and cloudy in places, and the water was calm. Perfect cruising weather really. The sun had discovered that there were areas of me that needed attention and I often had to head to a shade deck just to cool off.
 
My presumption as to why we were dawdling along was twofold. There was a small tug dredging in the approach channel, and we had to wait for her to finish, or the master was waiting for the cruiseships to emerge from Southampton so that he could regale them with the siren. Any cruiseship is fair game and often some merchant ships get the siren treatment too. It must be quite odd to be on the bridge of your sparkling cruiseship to be accosted by a small steam powered ex-sludge carrier with an often obscene siren. Cruise ship sailing time is around 16H30, and we were not quite ideally placed by the time they started unberthing and moving. Get a move on Smit Buffalo!!!
 
We also passed a few smaller vessels going about their business, and a host of power boaters and assorted water craft. Sand Heron was being followed by 3 of those water scooter type machines that were using her wake as a launching platform. I had seen this vessel in Weymouth awhile ago, and photographed her sister transiting the Itchen Bridge.
 
By now I could pick up the movement in Southampton at the further-est extent of the lens of my camera. (which reminds me, the lens extending mechanism does not sound very good). The leading vessel was Independence of the Seas, and I expected that because they are quite prompt in their departures, unlike certain other vessels……
 
And then we were waiting, siren at the ready… but would they catch the hint?
 
Independence of the Seas is a real beauty, she exudes size and efficiency and I have never seen her looking shabby or run down. She is also prompt, but her master chose to ignore our plaintive bleatings, parps and belches. 
 
I was fortunate enough to catch her as she turned into the Western Solent, and with the sun on her.
 
Emerald Princess on the other hand wanted to play along and we exchanged salutes with her (much to the amusement of everybody on board).
  
And finally Oceana also exchanged salutes with us.
 
As we passed the mouth of the Hamble I spotted a strange contraption festooned with lifeboats. I suspect it is some sort of training facility for ships crews, or maybe for scouts? it may be worthwhile finding out more about it. (Apparently this is part of Warsash  Maritime Academy)
 
Somebody was missing from the sailing list, Azura had also been in the harbour and she was not amongst the sailings. We had left her at Ocean Terminal when we had sailed, although she was berthed bow first instead of stern first like she usually does. Hopefully as we got closer we would pick her up. 
 
We picked up Whitchallenger on her way downstream, she is a bunkering vessel and may have been heading to top herself up as she was riding quite high.
 
We were also overtaken by two separate members of the Red Funnel fleet, and the Red Jets really left us rocking in their wakes, although Red Osprey just made us wobble a bit.
 
As we got closer to the harbour I spotted Azura being swung in the turning basin and soon she was bearing down on us. This was actually the second time I had seen her like this, the first being on my Cowes trip. 
 
You only get a sense of how big these ships are when they go past you, sadly though they do not really appeal to me, although I do recall that both her and Ventura were easy to work onboard from a baggage handling perspective.
 
and then we were alongside Hythe Pier
 
and I got to wave at Challenge, she is looking very lonely in that corner of the harbour. I really wish they would have her at a better spot because she is liable to be forgotten where she is now.
 
And then we were ready to come alongside, our trip completed. Shieldhall and her crew had brought us home safely.
 
I still had to get to the station and catch my train back to Salisbury, and I was tired. But it had been a different trip and I had enjoyed it. My only gripe was that there weren’t more ships to see on the trip. My next cruise will probably be one of the short harbour voyages that they have during the Maritime Festival which is being held on the 22nd and.23rd of  August. I will see you then Shieldhall. 
 
 
© DRW 2014-2018. Created 27/07/2014, images recreated and links changed 19/04/2016

Heading down to Ryde

My ears pricked up when I read about the trip from Southampton to Ryde pier onboard the Shieldhall. I have done three trips on board her already, so she is not a new experience. However, there is something about this classic steamship that gets into your blood. Possibly because she is a real ship and not some floating gin palace? I did a general blog post about her in May last year, so there isn’t much to say about the ship that I haven’t said before. But, I usually find something new each time I go on board.
  
Southampton harbour was quiet, and the cruise ships in port were Independence of the Seas, Emerald Princess, Azura and Oceana. I was secretly hoping we would see them in Southampton Water on the way back. And, I was hoping to see lots of ships on the eastern Solent as we sailed along. The best surprise was the THV Galatea , she was berthed bow to bow with Shieldhall and was a very impressive vessel. 

And then we were off. Springing away from the quayside and turning our bows towards the stretch of water that reaches to the Solent. If you look at a map of that area you will see that with a lot of pushing the Isle of Wight would fit quite snugly into the area known as The Solent although the geology is a bit more complicated than that. The theory was that once we entered the Solent we would turn to port and sail towards Portsmouth. 

  
A major grouping of vessels is to be found at the refinery at Crawley, although mostly tankers, there is also a nice grouping of tugs to be found here.
 
These three (Ajax, Lomax and Phenix), are operated by Solent Towage Ltd. and are occasionally seen in Southampton Harbour assisting some of the cruiseships. The next important area is Calshot Castle and I believe it is quite a good ship spotting venue, especially for afternoon sailings.
  
Once past the castle, we headed towards Cowes before turning to Port and sailing towards our destination. 
 
I had done the trip to Cowes once before with the Red Funnel ferry, and it was an interesting trip so it was not new to me. However, I had only been to Cowes, so far the rest of the Isle of Wight had evaded me. Ryde is easily accessible from Portsmouth as there is a conventional ferry service to the island as well as a hovercraft that does the run rather quickly.
 
Shieldhall was not unaccompanied in her voyage though. A swarm of yachts and small boats kept pace with us or came in close for a second look. She is a very popular vessel and I suspect getting a chance to see her sailing is one that you do not pass by. The Solent is also a very popular boating area and there were a number of people doing things in small boats. Unfortunately there were also a lot of those unattractive modern power boats that always seem to have a blonde draped languidly somewhere on the deck. The only real traffic we passed was the Hapag Lloyd container ship London Express that was heading into Southampton. 
  
As we got closer to our destination the Spinaker Tower in Portsmouth started to take on more definition, as did the Spitbank Forts and the ferries passing across our bows. I was really hoping we would get close to the forts but unfortunately never did.
 
Eventually we arrived at our destination which was Ryde Pier  and frankly from where we were it was not really very visible, and if the Master had not sung happy birthday we would probably have missed it. I cannot even show a pic as I do not have one that I can positively identify as “that’s it!”. Suffice to say I need to physically go there and take pics on the spot, and that will give me an excuse to go on the hovercraft. 
 
And talking about hovercraft, that’s her, crossing our bows. 
  
We sailed a bit further to Bembridge , or I believe it was Bembridge, again I cannot be too sure. It didn’t really matter though because it is not always the destination that interests me, sometimes it is all about the trip to get there. At this point we turned around and headed back in the general direction of Calshot, which was a pity because I really would have liked to have gotten closer to the Spitbank Forts, there was a Brittany Ferries boat heading away from Portsmouth that I was hoping we would get to have a look at but she was moving quite quickly and we would have never caught her anyway.

Our trip back towards Calshot was taken at a leisurely pace, and there were two possible answers to that question. But, we will have to turn the page to find out what they are.

 
© DRW 2014-2018. Created 27/07/2014. Images recreated 19/04/2016

Southampton Shipwatch 41: Emerald and Dawn Princess

I detoured on my way back from Portsmouth on the 12th of July to grab some pics of Emerald and Dawn Princess that were both in Southampton. The former at Ocean Terminal, the later at QEII. Unfortunately they are not really unique ships, Emerald  is one of the “Grand Class” clones and was launched in 2006. Her sisters are Crown Princess and Caribbean Princess. So technically I have seen her before. 
  
She was due to sail at 16H00, but as per usual the concept of time keeping was missing from her sailing, she finally started to drop her lines at 16H25, which was problematic because there were three others due to sail at 16H30 (Independence of the Seas, Oceana and Balmoral). There was quite a crowd of rubber neckers, fishermen and the occasional shippie watching her leave. 
 
 
Somehow though I cannot get much enthusiasm for these ships, I was considering that 30 years down the line these may be considered to be “classics” but I know I will really struggle to ever consider them that. 
 
 
And then it was time to head to the other side of Town Quay to catch Indie. Leaving the Emerald Princess to sail past her fleetmate Dawn Princess at QEII. I have to admit to a certain fondness for this big vessel, she is quite an attractive beastie and she is very prompt about her departure.
 
She was followed by Oceana, another ship for which I do not have much affection. 
 
One of the reasons I remained behind after watching Emerald Princess leave was to see Oceana alongside Dawn Princess.
 
Unfortunately QEII is an awkward place to photograph ships, it is too far away from Town Quay and unless they back the vessel into the Itchen or turn her when she arrives you only really get stern shots. These are the only pics I have of this 1997 built vessel. Her sisters are Sun Princess and Sea Princess, as well as Oceana. Incidentally the flat vessel alongside her is probably the slowest vessel in Southampton. I can walk faster than she can sail. Dawn Princess was due to sail at 21H00 (which probably means 21H30)
 
 
Then I turned my attention to Balmoral that was still being turned, unfortunately, being a bit of an old lady (and a classic too), she does not have stern thrusters so still needs a tug, but soon she too was heading down the channel. 
 
 

She was definitely the prettiest of the 5 ships in the harbour, but I could not really hang around as I had to get to the station by 17H36 for my train (which only arrived at 17H40). It was fun to do shipwatching again, and there are a number of unique arrivals scheduled for September that I will go down to Southampton for, so watch this space!!!

Emerald Princess 26/07/2014.
 
On the return to Southampton on Shieldhall on 26/07/2014 Emerald Princess was in the harbour too and I managed to get other pics of her. 
 
 
 
© DRW 2014-2018. Created 13/07/2014, updated 27/07/201, images recreated 18/04/2016