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Displaying items by tag: Larne

Plans to operate the first passenger-only ferry service between Northern Ireland and Scotland are scheduled to start in late May, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Kintyre Express is to operate a Ballycastle-Campbeltown service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 27 May and 26 September. Three daily return trips are scheduled on the service though the 1200hrs sailing from Campeltown and the corresponding 1400hrs sailing from Ballycastle will only operate on customer demand.

The passage time is scheduled to take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes between County Antrim and the Mull of Kintyre which is a distance of some 50 kilometres / 30-miles. Ticket fares for a single journey are £30 and the return is £55. On the remaining days that the route is not operated on, the boat is available for private charter.

In addition the new venture is to include an on-demand Campbeltown-Troon route running between April and September. This second service, linking Argyll with Ayrshire, will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The journey time is somewhat shorter with a scheduled time of 1 hour 15 minutes. The on-demand service must be booked in advance with singles fares costing £50 and a return ticket at £80. For further information click www.kintyreexpress.com

Like the recent proposals announced for a passenger-only ferry service across Galway Bay click here, the Kintyre Express operation will also use a fast-ferry in the form of rigid inflatable boats (RIB). The two routes from Campeltown will be served by Redbay Stormforce 11 metre RIBS which have centrally heated fully enclosed cabins for about 10 passengers. The Redbay Boats are built in Cushendall, Co. Antrim, for further information about the type of RIB to be used on the new routes click here.

The Ballycastle-Campbeltown route will be unique in that it will be the sole passenger-only ferry operator serving between the island of Ireland and the UK.

When the second route opens between Campbeltown-Troon, the company will be able to provide their boat service linked in with a train journey to Glasgow which they claim can be completed in less than two hours. Trains between Troon and Glasgow Central Station operate every 30 minutes and with a journey time of approximately 40 minutes.

For those who are car-free and time-free, this most northerly of travel routes is arguably the most scenic way to travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland and will appeal also to the intrepid traveler.

On both ferry services bicycles are carried for free and currently there is a special offer with all ferry tickets that can also be used for a free-day pass on the local Kintyre bus network for up to 24-hours. The bus operator is Craig of Campbeltown which trades as West Coast Motors and which owns Kintyre Express. The bus operator also serves on routes throughout Argyll and the island of Bute.

The next nearest cross-channel operator to the Kintyre Express Ballycastle-Campbeltown service is the car-carrying catamaran fast-ferry seasonal service between Larne and Troon operated by P&O (Irish Sea). The same company operates the year-round conventional car-ferry service on the North Channel between Larne and Cairnryan. Also operating to Loch Ryan is Stena Line which operates both ferry and HSS fast-craft services on the Belfast-Stranraer route.

Over the years there have been several attempts to revive the ferry between Ballycastle and Campeltown following a service that catered for vehicles too. For three summer seasons starting in 1997 the service was operated by the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company, using the Claymore (1978/1,632grt) which could accommodate 500 passengers and 50 vehicles.

In 1996 the vessel was chartered to carry out tender duties for visitors and crew of the aircraft-carrier USS John F. Kennedy (displacement 82,655 tons full load) which was at anchor off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Published in Ports & Shipping
20th December 2010

Stena Route To Close This Week

Only several days remain before Stena Line close the Larne-Fleetwood route. The 8-hour route was operated by a trio of sister-ships, until the Stena Leader was withdrawn last week in advance of the service which is due to end on 23 December.

The Stena Leader went to lay-up in Belfast. In the meantime the remaining vessels Stena Seafarer and Stena Pioneer continue to serve the Northern Ireland-Lancashire link.When the route closes, it is expected that the pair will re-join the Stena Leader in Belfast, where all three sisters will be at lay-up berth at Albert Quay. The Swedish owned ferry operator uses the port's Victoria Terminal 4, for their HSS and conventional ferry service to Stranrear, Scotland.

In early December Stena Line announced the acquisition of two routes and four vessels from rivals, DFDS Seaways. The £40m deal sees Stena taking over the freight-only route between Belfast and Heysham operated by Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways, a pair of Japanese built 13,000 gross tonnes vessels.

The second route is the Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route, served by two chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax sisters, Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. The ro-pax vessels will be sold to Stena Line as part of the agreement between the two ferry operators.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Following the recent announcement of DFDS Seaways to sell two Irish Sea routes and four vessels to rivals Stena Line, the company are to close the Larne to Fleetwood route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Stena claim the closure is not to do with the £40m transaction deal with DFDS Seaways. "The decision to close Fleetwood to Larne was taken some time ago on the basis of the current and projected performance of the route, and before the opportunity arose to buy these other routes," said Irish Sea area director Michael McGrath.

The route has made significant losses over recent years and to running an aging fleet on the 7-hour service. Stena cite that investment in new tonnage was not an option due to higher capitol costs. "No business can continue to carry such losses on an ongoing basis so there is no alternative but to close the route at the end of this year," he added.

The trio of vessels, Stena Leader (1975/12,879grt), Stena Pioneer (1975/14,426grt) and Stena Seafarer (1975/10,957grt) serve the link between Lancashire and Northern Ireland which takes freight, cars and their passengers but does not cater for 'foot' passengers.    

Late last month a fire took place in the engine room of the Stena Pioneer during a sailing to Fleetwood, the fire was extinguished using onboard equipment and fortunately without incident to crew or passengers.The Stena Pioneer was operated by B&I Line as their Bison in a joint service with Pandoro on the Dublin-Liverpool route between 1989-1993.

Under the new agreement, Stena Line's take-over of Belfast-Heysham, the port is a close neighbour to Fleetwood will include the 13,000 tonnes sisters Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways.The other route aquired is Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) which is significant in that the deal will include the purchase of the chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax twins, Mersey Seaways and Lagan Seaways. The sisters were built in 2005 at the Visentini shipyard, Italy, which also built the ro-pax sisters Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways.

Measuring 21,000 gross tonnes these vessels operate Dublin-Birkenhead route but remain under DFDS Seaways control and this applies to their freight-only service from the Irish capital to Heysham served by the Anglia Seaways. The 120-trailer freight ferry is also a sister of the Belfast-Heysham pair.

Notably the transaction will see Stena Line enter operations on the Mersey for the first time.The Swedish operator will use the river's Birkenhead Twelve Quays ferryport terminal located on the Wirral, opposite the famous Liverpool waterfront.

Stena Line will not only share the double berth facility with DFDS Seaways but also the Isle of Man Steam Packet (IOMSPCo) which in recent years has operated winter sailings to Douglas. In the summer the Isle of Man ferry operator uses the Liverpool landing stage berth on the other side of the river which is also shared by the 'ferry cross the Mersey' fleet operated by Mersey Ferries.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Started in 1982 the season ending Hot Toddy event returned to it's originating Club in Larne on 22/23 October. Twenty two boats took to the water on a damp and overcast day with a Force 3-4 Easterly blowing over the hilly east coast of the lough, constantly varying in strength and direction and providing challenging racing conditions.

It seemed like business as usual for Tim Corcoran and Brendan Brogan, despite having sailed very little since the Irish Champs, as they reeled off three firsts in a row, starting and sailing very consistently. The first race was even more "business as usual" as John and Donal McGuinness took second place with President Richard Street and Dan Crilly third. Things were soon to change when silver fleet sailor (for how much longer?) Nigel Sloan and Michael Cox took second place holding off Norman and Rob Lee, While in the third race Curly Morris sailing with daughter Mel (bit of a comedown after sailing with Ger Owens in the last two events) took second with the rapidly improving Keith Louden and Dessie Hughes third.

Sunday was bright and clear although cool and as the wind backed slowly into a more northerly direction it became a little steadier in strength and direction. In the lightest conditions of the weekend (Force 3) Curly and Mel had another good pin end start but this time held on to lead at the first mark and throughout the race despite a strong challenge from Keith and Dessie who held off Tim and Brendan comfortably.

With the breeze strengthened to Force 3-4, Keith made a perfect pin end start and took a lead they were not to loose, despite strong challenges from both Norman and Rob and Nigel and Michael, the latter pair ultimately taking their second second place of the weekend. This was Keith and Dessie's first race win at a major event and well deserved. As both Keith and Richard have ben trying to "break their duck" by winning a race for a number of years, this was the inspiration Richard and Dan needed to do the same in the final race. With John and Donal in second place and well clear of the rest of the fleet their victory was hard earned with a lot of cover tacking! The Presidential celebrations could be heard all the way down to the leeward mark.

With a third and fifth in the first two races Tim and Brendan didn't need to sail the final race but for the next four boats the minor places were up for grabs. Race officer Richard Doig had reverted to an Olympic style course and with the wind backing steadily to the North the final reach became a bit of a cavalry charge with much tactical sailing. Robert and Ross Gingles managed to hold on to the inside berth at the final mark on Curly and Mel who in turn kept out Keith and Dessie and Alistair Duffin and Paul Whitcombe the latter having a quiet weekend by their standards. Despite slipping to 7th on the last beat this was enough to shade out Norman and Rob on tie break.

In the silver fleet Nigel and Michael's two second place finishes gave them a comfortable lead over Cathal Sheridan and David Lappin, with Steven Preston and Brenda Niblock doing enough to beat clubmates Lawrence Balham and T Brown

Lough Foyle Y.C. could be proud of their weekend as in addition to Keith and Dessie in second and Ken Louden and Ryan Louden also making the top ten. The bronze fleet was a L.F.Y.C. clean sweep! Kevin and J Lynch took the honours from Bill Johnston and James Hockley and Daniel and Gareth Gallagher in third place, with only eight points between the three of them. We look forward to seeing more of these up and coming sailors next year and not just when we go to Lough Foyle for one of our events.

The event marked 50 years of sailing at E.A.B.C. much of it dominated by a very strong GP14 fleet. Curly Morris was not the only sailor participating in the event to have launched their first GP14 fifty years ago – Commodore Paddy Thompson persuaded former N.I. champion Michael Hill to get his series 1 boat Trostan out of the garage and onto the water and revive a host of memories.

Published in GP14
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