The movement of cars around the world requires a specialist type of ship and, while they may be functionally effective, they are not good looking ships. They have the appearance of a box on the water. The large rear loading ramp allows the cars to be loaded and then they get driven around the multitude of decks for storage. This example was coming up the Solent and heading in to Southampton. A similar example had a shift of load in this area and was put aground on the Brambles Bank to avoid sinking. No issues in this case, of course.
Perched above the beach at Lepe in Hampshire, overlooking the Solent, is an old bunker. It is surrounded by fencing and there is signage about the purpose of the bunker. You can see the hatch to access the bunker as well as some of the vents for the space below. I’m not sure what the bunker was designed to survive. It is close to a huge oil refinery and close to the headquarters of the Royal Navy. In a shooting war, there would have been some large detonations nearby. I doubt it would have provided sufficient protection to its occupants.
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.
I have made countless trips between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight over the course of my life. Things change but most of the landmarks are remarkably consistent. I was therefore quite surprised to see some very large posts that had appeared in the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour. I knew that there had been dredging work undertaken to allow the new carriers (see this post) to enter the naval base. I suspected that these new large posts might be connected with the same project. Sure enough, some research after our returned confirmed that navigation lights have been installed to allow the carriers to navigate their way in. These light are mounted on top of large posts sunk into the seabed. They aren’t the most attractive things but I guess they do the job.
Another Isle of Wight development is the hovercraft. Much early development of the concept was done on the Island and many were produced in East Cowes. Hovertravel still provide a frequent service between Ryde on the Island and Southsea on the mainland. I got a couple of opportunities to shoot these hovercraft while visiting. On the day Pete and I went flying, we arrived over Ryde just as one of the hovercraft was coming in. Another was parked on the slipway at the time.
When we left the island, I headed up on the upper deck of the ferry to see what was going on and had two over the hovercraft come by in opposite directions. It was rather windy up on deck but I was able to get some usable shots of the two of them individually and as they crossed. Apparently, Hovertravel are in the process of acquiring new craft to replace the current AP1-88s that are in service. Given that they were built in the late 1980s, they have provided good service. It will be interesting to see what replaces them. I wonder whether the new vehicles will arrive before I next get back.
The aviation museum that is on the perimeter of Oakland Airport has been something I have passed a few times but never at a time when either I had enough spare time to visit or that it was actually open. Finally, I recently found myself coming by with some time in hand and decided to drop in and take a look around. The collection that they have is quite interesting and splits into a series of areas.
Obviously the aircraft are the major part of the displays. However, they do have a collection of aero engines, both piston and turbine, which span quite a period including a TF-30 from an F-14 Tomcat. There are displays of uniforms and historical sections on a variety of topics including individuals and airlines from the history of the area.
However, it was the aircraft that I was primarily interested in. Part of the collection is kept inside. It is a selection of types from some relatively familiar light aircraft like the Ercoupe, a replica Wright Biplane, a Boeing T-5 which is a unique type which was developed locally, the only example of the Hiller Ten99 which lost out to the Huey in an Army competition and a MiG-17. The internal displays are reasonably spread out although light is a little limited.
When you head outside, things are very different. A lot of more modern military aircraft are on display along with the flagship of the Museum, a Shorts Solent flying boat. The aircraft outside are quite close together although not very cramped. However, the combination of positions and the ever present overhead power lines makes getting an uncluttered shot a little tricky. Some imaginative angles are sometimes required. It was a bright day as well so the harsh light was not helping.
While the F-14, the A-3 and the TAV-8A are worth a bit more time, it is hard to ignore the Solent. It is set facing the parking lot so it is striking as soon as you arrive. Internal tours can be arranged and, had I been able to stay longer, I would have been able to take a look around. However, I had to make do with external only this time. The rudder is currently missing and the wing floats are dismounted but the aircraft is still in great condition. The shaping of the nose is a feature of that era of flying boats and you can’t help but want to accentuate it when photographing her.
My mum’s birthday included a party on Spitbank Fort. This is one of Palmerston’s follies built out in the Solent not far from Portsmouth. The place has been restored in a great way and retains a lot of the character you would expect of a Victorian fort out on the water but with modern comforts as befits a hotel. I will spare you the family photos but here are a few shots to show you just what it is like out there. The service is great so, if you feel like spoiling yourself, check them out.