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Displaying items by tag: Irish Sea ferry news

Celtic Link Ferries new ro-pax Celtic Horizon made an inaugural appearance as she docked in Rosslare ferryport this morning, having completing her delivery voyage from Sicily, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As the 27,552 gross tonnes Celtic Horizon last night headed towards Irish waters (for previous report click here), her predecessor Norman Voyager was making her final sailing for CLF as she sailed away from the Celtic Sea towards Land's End bound for Cherbourg.

The changeover of vessels coincides with the existing Rosslare-Cherbourg sailing schedule of three round-trips per week, noting there are no sailings from the Wexford port on Mondays. Celtic Horizon is due to be introduced with her maiden 'Irish' voyage on Tuesday night, departing Rosslare at 21.30hrs. On the following Monday she is to be officially launched onto the service.

Celtic Horizon will boost capacity on the French route, offering a wider choice of restaurants, bars and a children's play-room. She can carry 840 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight vehicles. The 186m ferry is from a ro-pax series (including Norman Voyager) designed and built by Cantiere Navala Visentini based in Portoviro, outside Venice.

During her five-day repositioning route from the Mediterranean, Celtic Horizon made an en-route call to Gibralter, anchoring off the British colony on Thursday. Another of the same Visentini ro-pax class vessels, Cartour Epilson is believed to have taken over Celtic Horizon, formerly named Cartour Beta when she served her last season between Termini Imerese in Sicily to Salerno while on charter to C&T.

CLF will be the only ferry operator running services to France, between 2 January -19 February 2012, as Irish Ferries, which also operates on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route, will be taking off Oscar Wilde for annual dry-docking. For schedules click HERE.

In addition there will be no sailings between Cork-Roscoff, as Brittany Ferries final sailing for this year is 29 October, served by 'flagship' Pont-Aven. The 2012 season starts in late March.

Published in Ferry
At 13.07hrs Stena Line's HSS 1500 fast-craft ferry HSS Stena Explorer pulled away from her berth for the last time this year on the Dun Laoghaire Harbour-Holyhead route, as she headed for the harbour mouth several crew members waved from the stern to shore-based colleagues on the link-span, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Only yesterday, sailings on the daily single-round trip operated route had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions on the Irish Sea caused by the tail end of Hurricane Katia. The decision with today's closure was made well in advance and comes as no surprise as the Stena Explorer (1996/19,638grt) "has traded at a financial loss for several years" according to her owners Stena Line. Around 53 staff in Dun Laoghaire will be affected by the decision.

The core reason to withdraw the HSS on the 120-minute route which is not to re-open until the 2012 season, rests with the high operating costs of the fuel-thirsty fast-ferry which is powered by four gas-turbine engines. In addition the route's generated most of its turnover during the period May-September, leaving the remaining months unsustainable, as such the company wants the route to be seasonal-only in the long-term.

HSS_Stena_Explorer

HSS Stena Explorer departs Dun Laoghaire Harbour on her final sailing this season. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

Passengers and freight customers will instead need to use the company's other Dublin Bay route between Dublin Port and Holyhead. The 3 hour 15-minute central corridor route is served by two ro-pax vessels, Stena Adventurer (2004/43,532 grt) and Stena Nordica (2000/24,206 grt) which operate to a year-round schedule, for times click HERE.

What is not certain is the precise date for resumption of Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead services as Stena Line have only indicated that they hope to reopen in April or May nor it is outlined as to what type of fast-craft would operate the route next year.

With today's break in service for at least the next six months, this is the most significant absence of the revolutionary HSS (High Speed Sea Service) 1500 fast-ferry which made her official maiden voyage on the route from Dun Laoghaire on 10th April 1996. The only other notable occasions when the HSS was off-service was for the short spells to allow for annual dry-docking, refit, repairs or when the route in recent years was partially operated by Stena Lynx III.

The 1500 referred to the number of passengers the Stena Explorer could accommodate. She was the first of the three Finish-built HSS 1500 catamaran vehicle capable carrying craft to enter service on three routes from the UK. The next sister completed HSS Stena Discovery entered service in the same year between Harwich-Hook van Holland and the final of the trio HSS Stena Voyager entered the Belfast-Stranraer route in 1997. Several years ago the HSS ceased operating on the Dutch route and the HSS currently serving on the North Channel is due to be replaced by conventional ferries in mid-November as previously reported on Afloat.ie, to read more click HERE.

On the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead service the HSS enjoyed the boom years, and at its peak there were five daily round trips. From 2006 onwards the routes fortunes began to decline due to the ending of duty-free sales, competition from low-cost airlines, and the increasing cost of fuel.

In order to stave off further losses, a series of cost cutting measures were implemented over the next five years. Firstly the sailing frequency was reduced then the passage times were increased to reduce fuel consumption at the expense of faster crossings. In addition the company resorted to withdrawing the Stena Explorer during the shoulder months surrounding the summer and as previously mentioned these sailings were covered by the Stena Lynx III.

When the Stena Explorer returned for the summer months, the Stena Lynx III switched to her normal high-season spell on Rosslare-Fishguard sailings in tandem with regular route vessel Stena Europe. This year she served as usual on the St. Georges Channel route with the last high-season sailing completed on 4 September.

Stena Lynx III remained initially at Fishguard until making a repositioning voyage to Dun Laoghaire via the Kish Lighthouse last Wednesday. She berthed adjacent to the now disused HSS berth link-span on St. Michaels Wharf. The Tasmanian built craft has spent previous winter layover periods in Dublin and last year in Dun Laoghaire whereas the Stena Explorer is expected to do so in her home port of Holyhead.

At the neighbouring Carlisle Pier, the former terminal where numerous steam-packets, 'mailboats' and the conventional Sealink/British Rail car-ferries served (the last being the Stena Adventurer better known as St. Columba built in 1977) there are plans for a national diaspora museum.

The centrepiece landmark building would form as part of the masterplan proposed by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company as part of a concerted effort to offset the reduced role of ferry operations. The masterplan is also to attract cruiseship business amongst other proposals envisaged.

Published in Ferry
Stena Line are to reduce its HSS fast-ferry between Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Holyhead next month, according to RTE.ie
The decision by the company for pulling the HSS Stena Explorer from service was because of the high operating costs and that "it traded at a financial loss for several years". The central corridor route generated much of its turnover between May and September.

Stena Line said the fast craft service would operate until 13th September and would then be suspended until the 2012 season. Two conventional ferries will continue to operate year-round on the company's neighbouring route between Dublin Port and Holyhead.

Stena said it hoped to start the service again in April or May although no decision has been made on an exact date.

Area Director for Stena Line's business on the Irish Sea Michael McGrath said: "Despite all our attempts to reduce operating costs over the last few years, it has not been possible to return the route to profitability.

"We regret that this decision will have an impact amongst our ship's personnel and our port operations staff in Dun Laoghaire but this is a decision that has to be taken for the benefit of the overall business. We simply cannot continue to sustain these levels of financial losses.

"We will now embark on a period of consultation with our staff and their union representatives to discuss the implications of the proposed changes with them."

Stena says it hope to start the service again in April or May, although no decision has been made on an exact date. It is believed around 53 staff will be affected by the decision.

Published in Ferry
The first of four freight-only ferries for Irish Sea operator Seatruck Ferries was launched last week according to The Motorship.
Measuring 18,920 gross tonnes the Seatruck Progrees built by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Germany is due for delivery in November with the final newbuild scheduled for completion in June 2012. The vessels are 142m long and have a width of 25m and with 2,166 lane metres, capable of carrying over 150 commercial vehciles spread across four decks.

The quartet of Heysham-Max class vessels are the largest ever vessels built to operate from the Cumbrian port which has determined the length of the new ships. Despite the restrictions imposed by the dimensions of the port, the optimum cargo-load of the newbuilds were achieved by positioning the deckhouse forward so to guarantee un-hampered loading of the upper decks.

Propulsion is from two MAN 7L48/60CR main engines of 2 x 8,000kW providing 21 knots. The powerplant is designed to meet rigorous emission and fuel consumption demands, according to FSG managing director Peter Sierk.

Published in Ferry
Operators of the Cork-Swansea port route, Fastnet Line celebrated their 100,000th passenger late last month, after opening the service in March 2010, writes Jehan Ashmore.
While down on its initially forecasted target, it should be noted that, between January to March this year, the 1,500-passenger capacity ferry Julia was dry-docked in Swansea for essential maintenance. Refurbishment of the 1982-built 22,161 tonnes vessel took place in some public areas and three new luxurious mini-suites have been created.

In addition passengers travelling on the Julia can visit the newly installed tourist office where an advanced booking system will be available for all accommodation, leisure, and hospitality facilities located on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Irish and Welsh members of the West Cork Tourism Co–Operative, which established the ferry operation will staff the tourist office full-time during the summer months. The facility is unique to Irish-UK ferry services and was officially opened by the new Cork County Mayor Tim Lombard. For further information from the co-operative click www.westcork.ie and more about the other on board facilities click HERE.

With competition from summer sells on offer from rival operators on the Irish Sea, in particular on St. Georges Channel services, Fastnet Line are combating with deals to encourage higher occupancy sailings during the peak season.

The company are also preparing to accommodate Irish soccer fans in the autumn, following the success of Swansea City F.C. in gaining promotion to the Premiership.

Published in Ferry
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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