Three Types of Wightlink Car Ferry

Having traveled on the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight for all of my life, I have seen many generations of ferry come and go.  The oldest ones I recall are Fishbourne and Camber Queen.  These would amaze current travelers with their limited car capacity and very limited customer amenities.  They were replaced by a bigger and better equipped fleet which were replaced in turn but the fleet of Saint named ferries.  Their time has mainly come and gone and now most have been replaced again.

On this trip, I got to ride of two ferries from the newer generation.  They have  a significant increase in capacity that has required the introduction of two level loading to allow the schedule to be kept.  While traveling on each, I got to see the other heading in the opposite direction along with one of the older Saint class.  The latest ferry has again gone away from bi-directional operation and has also added a hybrid power drive of some sort.  No idea how it works but the large logo on the side leaves you in no doubt that it is there.

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The Alaska 321neo Didn’t Keep the Special Colors Long

The merger of the Virgin America fleet into Alaska Airlines started off slowly at first.  With Virgin taking delivery of new jets, Alaska pondered how to mark them up.  The first of the A321neos came in Virgin America colors but then one arrived in a plain scheme with some outlines on it of west coast skylines under the tag line “Most West Coast”. It didn’t have obvious airline branding and I wrote about it here.  It turns out that jet did not stay in those colors for long.  It has now received the standard Alaska Airlines branding and I saw it operating out of SeaTac heading to Los Angeles.

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Fastnet Race Start in the 90s

We recently had the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet race that ended up with a significant loss of life and boats.  Weather forecasting technology and the methods of communicating were very different forty years ago and some of the boats were ill-suited to open water racing of that nature.  Growing up in Cowes, the Fastnet race was always a big deal.  It was every other year as part of the Admiral’s Cup.  Some of my school friends got to crew on it.  I watched the start of one of the races when we still lived in the UK and I scanned in some of the shots I got that day.  The start was always frantic.  Boats are jockeying for position, often very close to shore.  Lots of shouting goes on.  With a good wind, big sailing boats look so cool to me.

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Falcon Freighter

Falcon 20s are not that unusual but, if one is coming close to home on a Saturday afternoon when I don’t have anything else planned, why not?  This one was coming in to Paine Field and the sun was out and it would be approaching from the north (hopefully) in the afternoon.  Good combination.  I popped up the road to see.  It did indeed show up on schedule.  This was just as well.  A short while after landing, clouds rolled in and the wind picked up resulting in them changing runways!  This jet belongs to Alliance Air Charter and appears to be configured as a freighter.  I wonder if it is an old FedEx jet?

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Diablo Dam

My sister was visiting so we took a trip up into the Cascades across the North Cascades Highway.  Having traveled this way before, I had photographed some of the dams already.  This time, we got a closer look at Diablo Dam.  You can drive down to the dam and across the top of it to get to the facilities on the other side.  The dam is wide enough for two vehicles to pass although that might not be obvious given the way some of the drivers behaved.

The spillways on either side of the dam look a lot bigger when you get close to it than is the case when looking from a distance.  The chance to see it up close, given that so many of the dams in the mountains are rather inaccessible, was pretty cool.

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Rather Disappointing F-35B Appearance

The F-35 has been around for quite a while by now so I have shot them on plenty of occasions (although an F-35C is still on the wish list).  My UK trip was one where I was hoping to get an RAF F-35B.  It was scheduled to make an appearance at RIAT but the information did not make it sound like a display.  On the first day of the show, the weather was shocking.  Low cloud and rain got in the way of a lot of things displaying.  Late in the day the F-35B was due in.  Our initial forecast for arrival was extended as the cloud base meant an instrument approach was needed.  It finally appeared and flew through the display line once.  Then it powered away and a while later we were informed it had gone home.I was shooting video of that which is at the bottom of this page.

The next day had better weather so I was hoping for a little more.  It did show up and we did get more than one pass.  However, even then, it was a rather lackluster performance.  I guess they have not worked up any form of display – not even a hovering portion – so we got some passes and a couple of configurations and that was it.  I don’t think I was alone in feeling a little underwhelmed by what they put on.  I guess in coming years, a more worked up display will be seen but I will have to wait a while for that.

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Island Flyer

Regular readers know I like the hovercraft.  I didn’t make a specific visit to Ryde on our last trip to see them but I did get to see them on our two ferry crossings and we also stopped at Southsea where I got to see a couple of arrivals and departures.  The new hovercraft have not had a trouble free introduction but I suspect they have had a few fixes embodied.  The memory of introduction problems will probably last far longer than the actual problems but I don’t know for sure whether they are doing fine now or not.  All I know is that the service was running while we were there.

I was rather pleased that one of the crossings ended up getting very close to the ferry as we headed in to Portsmouth.  It provided a far more interesting angle on the hovercraft than I would normally get.  Combine that with some shots from the beach at Southsea and I was happy with having got some shots of the new craft which I hadn’t really seen before.  During the departure, I was conscious of the potential for spray sideways as they lifted off.  What I hadn’t considered properly – pretty annoying given how I know to deal with jetwash when on a ramp – is that the departing craft got quite far offshore before you got blasted with their propwash.  That was mixed with seawater – an ideal combination for electronic equipment!  No permanent damage though.

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Comet Cockpit and Cabin

The Comet may have been the first British jet airliner and the first in commercial service but it is not too well served by Museums.  I guess the stragglers got chopped up when they had served their purpose.  Everett is home to a Comet 4 though with the Museum of Flight’s restoration facility being home to one.  Progress on it has been slow but steady.  I have seen it a few times over the years.  You used to be able to walk outside and see the bits stuck outdoors but now there is commercial service at Paine Field, the ramp is a bit more secure.

On my most recent visit, I wandered through the cabin and had a look in the cockpit.  The cockpit did result in some HDR shots and I wrote a post about that here that discussed the different results Adobe software provides for HDR.  These shots just give you an idea of what the early days of jet aviation brought to the flying public.

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Salmon Waiting to Head to Spawning Grounds

The salmon head to spawn in phases with the three different breeds coming at slightly different times.  They head through the ladder at the locks in Ballard in the fall but, before they head into Lake Washington, they pause in the approach area.  The transition from salt water to fresh is something that they have to adjust to and the area just by the locks where the fresh water is spilling out provides a good place for them to get adjusted.  They can stay for a couple of weeks or more.  The result was that we saw a lot of salmon swimming around in the waters by the dam.  This was not a risk free occupation as shall be covered in a future post.

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BOAC and the Red Arrows

RIAT is known for special formations and British Airways has been part of them in the past.  Concorde with the Red Arrows and an A380 with the Red Arrows spring to mind.  For 2019 and BA’s 100th anniversary, they wanted to do something special.  The focal point was to be the BOAC liveried 747-400.  I shot this jet at SeaTac and covered it in this post.  To see it in formation with the Red Arrows sounded pretty good.  They put together two passes.

The first was from the right and involved a gentle turn in the direction of the crowd to give a slightly topside view of things.  This was nice but the distance involved did mean there was a bit of heat haze to combat.  The second pass in the other direction was a more straight pass along the display axis.  The sun was popping in and out during this time so the colors popped sometimes and not others.  It made for some tricky shooting but it still looked pretty good and it was nice to just watch when not shooting.

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