Word was circulating amongst the local photographers about the impending arrival of a Boeing 717. Qantaslink has been operating the 717s in Australia for many years but is now in the process of replacing them. One of the first to be replaced had made its way as far as Anchorage and was heading to Victorville for repainting and refitting for its next operator. It was due to stage through Seattle before the final leg to California. However, while the flight plan was filed, it never left Anchorage.
The process was repeated for multiple days. I think it may have been over a week before the plane actually moved from its parking spot in Anchorage and headed for the runway. To be honest, I was still wondering whether it would get airborne but, once it did, I prepared to head down to BFI. The journey must have been relatively uneventful as they arrived when expected. There was already a flight plan for the next stage of the trip, so I hung around waiting for the departure.
Part of me wondered whether the jet would break again but all was well, and they headed off. The flight crew had Australian accents and were working for a ferry company judging by the flight number. With the plane safely delivered, I am now curious to see whether more of the fleet will make the same journey. Maybe we’ll get bored of Qantas liveried 717s coming through.
While in Vancouver in November, we made a trip to North Van to see some friends. That meant a trip on the Seabus. The tricky thing about getting images of the Seabus is that you can’t really do anything if you are traveling on it. The dock is enclosed and the views are restricted so you don’t really have any options (or at least I haven’t worked out what they might be). However, I did go to the heliport which is very close by and this does provide a better view of the comings and goings of these ferries.
It’s not the most elegant of vessels but it does the job effectively. Back and forth without turning since it is a bi-directional vessel. It’s all about shuttling across the harbor as efficiently as possible. I did also shoot some video of it but it is safe to say that there is nothing terribly dynamic about it that makes for an exciting video!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
A variety of ferry operators have made their way on to the blog over time. Today I get to add a new one for me. I was taking a WSF ferry to Bainbridge Island and, as we were departing Seattle’s Colman Dock, some Kitsap Ferries services were also arriving and departing. The light angles weren’t ideal but I figured I would add to my collection of ferry shots anyway. Maybe I will go back deliberately at some point in the future to get some better shots.
I am known to take the occasional photos of ferries. I have even been known to search them out from time to time. However, I recently got a photo of one purely by accident. We were on Whidbey Island and in the town of Langley. We drove down a side road to a dock area to see what was down there and we came across a retired Washington State ferry. The MV Evergreen State was in the WSF fleet for decades but was finally retired from service in 2015. Apparently her disposal did not go smoothly and she was in Olympia for a while before a new owner bought her and moved her to Langley.
Supposedly, the new owner is in the process of converting her to electric power. Working on a vessel as old as she is sounds hard enough as it is but converting it to new technology seems like a major undertaking. Maybe it will all work out well but I have a feeling that another troubling time could be ahead. Meanwhile, she is moored in Langley and this is where I shot her.