Tag Archives: boat

Steam Cleaning a Hull

Whenever I go to Anacortes, I always swing by the shipyard to see what they are working on.  This was a quick visit but there was a large vessel up on the yard with a crew of people steam cleaning it.  I don’t know whether this was the precursor to some work or the end of some.  I did like the shaping of the screws on this vessel though.  They looked pretty sweet.

HMS Severn

The Royal Navy has a bunch of coastal patrol vessels that are named after rivers around the UK.  From what I have read, HMS Severn is one of the first batch of vessels and it is less capable than the later batch.  Although originally planned for retirement, it has been kept in service patrolling the UK coastal region.  It was heading out of Portsmouth when I saw it.  I think it was originally painted grey when it was commissioned but it currently has more of a camo scheme applied.  It made me think of the disruptive camouflage used during the First World War.  I actually shot a pano of it as it headed out taking advantage of the lack of an immediate background to avoid any issues with the movement between shots.

Arriving Container Ship

Nancy and I were walking along the shore in Stanley Park in Vancouver during our visit over the Thanksgiving weekend.  As we got closer to the lighthouse, I saw the prow of a ship start to come into view.  A quick switch to video and I recorded the arrival of a container ship to the harbor.  Large vessels like that coming through a narrow entrance to a harbor look cool to me.  Once the harbor opens out a bit, it is just another large ship in open water so the scale is lost.  In that phase when it comes into view, though, it looks as substantial as it really is.  Get close and you are left in no doubt about these ships.


Guemes Ferry Needs Some Paint

During the pandemic, I got to take photos of a lot of ferries.  One of the ferries I checked out was the Guemes Island ferry in Anacortes.  After I had finished my visit up in Anacortes, I had my lunch with me and was looking for a spot to eat it.  I figured I would go to the parking lot by the ferry and see if it was in use.  It certainly was and seemed to be operating more regularly than I expected.  I did get a few photos and videos of it coming and going.  The ferry looked a little scruffier than I recall from previous visits.  I wonder whether it is due to be dry docked soon for a repaint!

Car Transporters Are So Elegant

Having grown up by the sea, I always like looking at passing ships.  However, there are some that are just a little bit harder to like.  Car transporters are that type of ship.  While on the Isle of Wight, I saw this one passing by.  I was going to take a shot of it because when don’t I take a photo but this is a prime example of just how lacking in grace this type of ship is.

The Most Unpopular Bridge

I spent a lot of my childhood in a town called Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  Cowes was on the coast by the outfall of the River Medina.  The other side of the river was East Cowes and the two were connected by a chain ferry known to everyone as the floating bridge.  I remember as a small boy when the previous floating bridge got replaced with a newer and larger version.  This same one was in service until relatively recently.  A new one was ordered and its introduction to service has not been smooth.

I see the content of some Isle of Wight Facebook groups and complaints about the new bridge are widespread.  Like most people, I don’t know the actual details of what is behind the problems, but the online experts know everything, and the accusations of corruption are widespread.  In my experience, the most likely problem is just a screw up.  People make mistakes a lot and looking for a deeper reason is usually fruitless.  I don’t even know if it is all working properly now, and everyone is rehashing old stories or whether it is still problematic.

We did take a trip on it though.  It was working and we needed to get from East Cowes to Cowes so we gave it a go.  Everything was fine.  However, it was busy and the car in front of us was the last one to get on.  That did give me some time to get some photos of it and I also took a little video too.  As an aside, while we were in Portsmouth, I saw the old bridge laid up awaiting its fate.

Slotting A Large Ferry In A Narrow Space

The car ferry terminus at Portsmouth has moved locations over the years.  The current Gunwharf location is tucked in quite a tight spot and the ferries are getting ever larger.  It requires some skill to get a boat that big in to the berth frequently and quickly.  I had multiple opportunities to watch them do this when in Portsmouth and when waiting to board so I got stills and video.  A little video of them working is below.

We also were close to the terminus when we had our lunch on Spice Island.  The ferries actually come around Spice Island and in to dock and the view along the shore looks almost continuous so, when the ferry goes in or comes out, it looks like it is emerging from the land.  For some reason, I don’t tire of watching this happen.

MV Royal Iris Decaying Slowly

The Thames is a busy waterway for commercial shipping and has plenty of docks and wharves along its shores.  Seeing boats tied up is no surprise but seeing one that is sinking is not what I would have expected.  That is exactly what I found, though.  This old ferry was sitting at an awkward angle and looking very unwell.  I came upon it from the stern and then had to go inshore as the path deviated away from the river but it was soon back on the water and I was able to look back at the sad vessel.  A little research when I got home told me it is the MV Royal Iris, once a Mersey ferry.  She is not looking at her prime now!

Woolwich Ferry

I last used the Woolwich Ferry around 1990.  At no point since then have I needed to do so.  However, on my exploitation of the eastern parts of the Thames (at least while still in London), I started out in North Woolwich and needed to get to Woolwich.  The foot tunnel was an option but the ferry runs frequently and is free so it was my preferred option.  From what I have read, they replaced both ferries relatively recently.  One of them has an obvious name – the Dame Vera Lynn.  The other one is named Ben Woollacott in honor of a young crewman who lost his life on duty a few years ago.  I think that is a nice touch.

The two ferries run at the same time with each loading on opposite sides of the river and then departing at the same time.  There is an odd “dance” that they do with one going upstream  and one down as they cross each other before then sliding in to the dock to unload and repeat the process.  When I boarded the ferry, I didn’t know how this worked so was quite confused as we headed up river.  However, it all became clear quite quickly.

The ferries are very maneuverable.  They was in which the crews can put them wherever they need to while operating on a river that has some strong currents is quite impressive.  They seem to slide into the berths sideways when coming from one direction while they approach the northern side in a more traditional way.  If you haven’t heard of a Voith Schneider drive, I suggest you look them up.  Very clever stuff.

I made the crossing and got some shots and video while doing so but my interest was now piqued so I ended up spending a little longer on the south bank of the river watching them repeat the process to see how it looked from the outside.  A slick operation.  As I got off, I saw the holding area for the vehicle traffic that was waiting to board.  It seemed that there was a lot more going south to north than in the other direction at that time of day.

Handbrake Turn In A Ferry

When you look at something like a ferry that can hold 180 cars and a thousand passengers, you don’t immediately think of agility and maneuverability.  However, the Wightlink ferries that run between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight have surprising capabilities.  The entry to Portsmouth Harbour is followed by a rapid change of direction to get to the terminal at Gunwharf.  From the Spinnaker Tower, you get a great view of how rapidly the ferry can be thrown around.  The St Clare is a bi-directional ship so it doesn’t back in like Victoria of Wight.  Instead, it looks like it is doing a handbrake turn.  The wake ends up almost combing out of the side of the boat!