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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

No ferries to Failaka for months?
By Nawara Fattahova, Staff Writer

Kuwait Times
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

KUWAIT: Those who chose “Liberation Day’ last Sunday, to visit Failaka
Island using the KPTC ferry were not lucky. The ferry scheduled for the
afternoon return trip could not come.

About 150 passengers had to stay on the Island for about 12 hours, while
some managed to return on private boats. According to Abulfutouh, an
employee at Ras Salmiya from where the ferry leaves to Failaka, the
Ministry of Communication is responsible for this complication.

“What happened yesterday is similar to what happened last year, when
some Ministry of Communications inspectors refused to let the ferry to
operate and hold trips to Failaka. They officially announced that they
canceled the trip from Failaka due an expired license, but the real
reason was a fight that took place on the first returning ferry,” he
told the Kuwait Times.

“The first ferry left at 2:30 pm from Failaka, and Ministry of
Communications inspectors were onboard the ferry. Unfortunately, some
impolite youths caused a problem with girls travelling on this ferry
with their families. A huge fight took place on the returning ferry. The
inspectors did not do anything, but the passengers stopped the fight
after one was seriously injured. Four police vehicles and one ambulance
were waiting for the passengers at the dock in Salmiya. They took the
injured to hospital, while the other participants in the fight were
escorted to the police station,” explained Abulfutouh.

The next ferry brought the passengers from Failaka at 6 am Monday. Then
both ferries returned to Failaka to bring the rest of the Island’s
visitors, who were spending a longer stay there.

“All the ferries sailed to Failaka empty, without passengers, just to
bring people back from the Island. I expect the ferries will not operate
for about a month or two now. All the officials from KPTC are at the
Island now to make sure all the visitors there are transport

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Interislander would be a potential cornerstone operator in a new port in Clifford Bay if a private sector party developed it, Interislander general manager Thomas Davis says.

Mr Davis' comments were in KiwiRail internal newsletter Express posted on bettertransport.org.nz/forum, a website forum operated by the group Campaign for Better Transport.

Interislander, which operates rail and vehicle ferries between Wellington and Picton, is owned by KiwiRail.

Mr Davis said he had been asked by Interislander staff what was happening, and that was not something that he could answer now.

A feasibility study for a new port at Clifford Bay as an alternative to Port of Marlborough's Picton port is being done by the Ministry of Transport, at a cost of $650,000.

The study was called for by the Government after potential interest in developing the site had been shown by private investors.

KiwiRail has said it would not develop the port itself, but would be interested in using it.

The ministry is expected to report to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee by March 30.

Mr Davis said Interislander would be interested to see the outcome of the study and, as a potential cornerstone operator, to discuss Clifford Bay's future.

"There are some realities we can't avoid," Mr Davis said.

"Over time, we will need to replace existing ships and that will require investment in new port infrastructure at Picton.

"Just as importantly, future ships will need to travel at slower ship speeds through Tory Channel to reduce the impact of wake on the shoreline.

"The result would be that Interislander would only be able to complete four return trips a day compared with the six we currently achieve.

"That would have an obvious impact on the economics of our business."

New ferries would also have to obey a bylaw that reduces speed through the Marlborough Sounds.

Mr Davis says operating from a Clifford Bay facility would provide the opportunity for six trips a day as well as the road and rail cost savings that can be achieved from shorter sailing times and the reduced distance to travel to Christchurch.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The timing for Martha's Vineyard travelers could not have been worse. School vacation week began Saturday with gale force gusts out of the west and Steamship Authority ferry cancellations, the majority by the Island Home, the boatline's newest and largest ferry.

Early Saturday morning, Islanders with a reservation on the Martha's Vineyard held something of a winning lottery ticket. The older, single-ended ferry held to its schedule throughout the morning as winds blew between 30 and 40 miles per hour and gusted to 49.

The story was different on the Island Home. The new, $32-million double-ender did not cross Vineyard Sound until 1:15 pm, when she left Woods Hole on her first trip of the day. Sunday, the Island Home failed to make its first trip of the day due to weather, an 8:15 am departure from Woods Hole. Island travelers with reservations on the 9:30 am trip to Woods Hole were left high and dry.

Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said this week that there are many factors that affect the decision to sail. They include the direction of the wind, the direction of the tidal current in Vineyard Sound, the judgment of the ferry captain, and the handling characteristics, which differ among the vessels.

"We were fortunate to be able to get the trips in with the Martha's Vineyard," Mr. Lamson said in a telephone call with The Times Tuesday.

Ultimately, he said, the decision to cancel a trip is left to the ferry captain's judgment. "They are ultimately responsible," he said. "That decision is left to the captain. Management would not tell somebody to go when they do not think it would be appropriate."

Mr. Lamson acknowledged that there is a degree of subjectivity. For example, the decision to sail at 1:15 pm, Saturday coincided with a change of captain and crew.

Mr. Lamson said he thinks it was more a case of a change in the direction of the current than crew Saturday, but he agreed there is a degree of variability.

Passenger and crew safety is the primary consideration, according to Mr. Lamson. "When a captain feels that it is not safe, or somebody could get hurt, he is not willing to take that chance, that risk, and I support that," he said.

Mr. Lamson said the differences in performance between ferries are attributable to the differences in the design of the vessels. For example, the Nantucket continued to run Saturday between Hyannis and Nantucket. "Probably the best sea-keeping vessel we have is the Nantucket," he said. "The wind was out of the west. Generally, when it is out of the east is when we run into problems with the Nantucket route."

Mr. Lamson explained that each ferry design, a double-ender versus a single-ender, has built in trade-offs, and each port presents specific problems depending on the direction of the wind.

On Saturday, the Island Home's tall superstructure would have added to the difficulty as she entered the Woods Hole passage, a channel known for boiling strong currents, with a west wind pushing her from left to right across the channel. 

"Trying to make the turn in Woods Hole and then keep a course and then make the stop before the vessel gets into the slip can be very challenging," Mr. Lamson said.

Once the Island Home did begin running, the lift decks, which can accommodate eight vehicles on each side, remained up and unused to keep the vessel's center of gravity as low as possible and increase stability, he said.

Unhappy

In a Letter to the Editor published in today's Times, an unhappy Leah Casey of Oak Bluffs said she and her family had a reservation on the cancelled 9:30 am Island Home and were forced to wait until the afternoon to board a boat, even as the SSA loaded trucks rather than automobiles. She wanted to know why the SSA did not bump "enormous, probably empty, trucks" to allow long-delayed passenger vehicles to board.

Mr. Lamson said the current policy is to board reservations first for a scheduled trip that runs, not those that have been bumped. They will be loaded as space allows on trips that run.

"We would take them before standbys that didn't have any reservations," he said.

He said the advantage of this system as opposed to simply pushing each reservation back is that it disrupts only those who held a reservation for a cancelled trip, "rather than having a domino effect throughout the day."

To the point of Ms. Casey's letter, he said the SSA would not bump a truck driver holding a reservation but does work with the companies to open up spaces when there is a considerable backup. He said the SSA would ask if there is any way that the company can move a reservation or go later, perhaps another day.

Mr. Lamson said that depending on the weather, the SSA will issue travel advisories when it expects possible cancellations. In this case, there was some uncertainty.

He said many people anticipated cancellations due to the forecast of high winds and so traveled Friday. He said he understands the frustration people experience when there are cancellations. "It is unfortunate," he said. "We know how much people rely on the service, in particular this week when people are heading off for vacations and perhaps flights and other commitments that have been made. The crews do everything that they can to run if at all possible."

Numbers compared

On Saturday, the Island Home missed three trips out of Vineyard Haven: 7 am, 9:30 am, and noon. That translates into about 180 vehicles left waiting to cross.

Looking at 2011, Mr. Lamson said the Island Home was scheduled for 4,414 trips. She cancelled 59 trips due to weather and six trips due to mechanical issues. She made greater than 98 percent of her scheduled runs, he said.

By comparison, the Martha's Vineyard was scheduled for 2, 978 runs in 2011, between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven and cancelled 14 trips due to weather and four for mechanical problems. There were another 952 trips between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs, for which 10 trips were cancelled due to weather.

In sum, the Martha's Vineyard missed 24 trips due to weather and the Island Home missed 59. Mr. Lamson said that difference could be explained in the handling characteristics, particularly in Woods Hole during certain current and wind conditions.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Last week the Cork Independent revealed that one family was left out of pocket by more than €1,300 by the closure of Cork-Swansea ferry.

The story of the plight of the Mathews family brought out the best in another ferry company however. Stena Line contacted the Cork Independent to offer the Mathews family a free return passage from Fishguard to Rosslare.

Ian Davies, the Stena Line Rosslare - Fishguard Route Director said: “When Stena Line heard the unfortunate situation of the Mathews family, we wanted to offer our help to ensure they were able to make their family reunion without having to be out any more money.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the family complimentary return travel from Fishguard to Rosslare and hope they have an enjoyable time reuniting with their family and exploring Cork.”

Booked

Unfortunately for the family however, they have had to reject Stena Lines offer of free travel as they had already booked to travel to Ireland using Irish Ferries.

According to Marie Mathews, “It’s a real shame as we could have saved paying for the crossing twice.”

She added that the offer was “very much appreciated”. She thanked Stena Line saying “Thank you so much for the offer of a return crossing for my family”.

“We were not expecting any company to be so generous, we rebooked a ferry and hotel package through Irish ferries and due to the cancellation policy we are unable to cancel our booking.

She added: “It would be quite difficult to now take up Stena Lines’ offer due to Irish ferries cancellation policy, as much as we would love to as it would mean we won't have to pay twice for the holiday!”

Marie Mathews' mother-in-law had spent £1,146 on a Christmas gift of ferry tickets for a family reunion trip to West Cork, but they have not been able to secure a refund.

The Fastnet Line receivers Price Waterhouse Cooper told the family that because they paid by debit card, they are classed as an unsecured creditor and are unlikely to receive any refund. It's thought that they are the only people in this predicament. 

Marie Mathews and her family will arrive at the Celtic Ross on 22 April for a four night stay. The group numbers seven in total, who are looking forward to a family reunion.  

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

 

Fog delays HMS Vengeance sailing up River Tamar

HMS Vengeance is one of four submarines in the Royal Navy that can carry nuclear missiles


Related Stories

The Torpoint and Cremyll ferries on the River Tamar were due to stop between 09:20 and 10:30 GMT on Thursday.

The Ministry of Defence said the move was needed because Vengeance was larger than other submarines which sailed to the city's Devonport Dockyard.

The vessel is believed to be remaining offshore from Plymouth.

Torpoint Ferry managers confirmed that services were operating as normal.

Nuclear deterrent

Vanguard class submarine HMS Vengeance is one of four submarines in the Royal Navy fleet that can carry nuclear missiles.

It is the newest of the four Trident-carrying, Faslane-based strategic missile boats that make up the UK nuclear deterrent force, and was launched in October 1998.

Plymouth's Devonport Dockyard has a £5bn contract to refit the Vanguard class vessels.

They are berthed in a specially-converted dock because they are too big for the yard's other docks.

The 150m (492ft) long vessel has a submerged displacement of nearly 16,000 tonnes and a crew of 135.

In comparison, Devonport Naval Base's Trafalgar class submarines are only 85m (279ft) long.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Winds as strong as 150km/h are possible across large parts of New Zealand over the next day or two, according to WeatherWatch.

The forecaster has issued 19 weather warnings for the incoming storm, which is expected to arrive overnight.

"The rain will be heavy, especially for the lower half of the North Island and upper South Island, but it's really the winds which will be far reaching with severe gales expected in most regions for a time on Saturday," says WeatherWatch.co.nz analyst Philip Duncan.

Mr Duncan says the low, which is currently over the Tasman Sea and expected to get worsen as it approaches, will cross the country quite quickly.

"It's a short, sharp, nasty blast of weather"… For northern regions, such as Auckland, the skies may clear fairly quickly on Saturday if the winds turn more southerly during the afternoon."

Interislander ferry sailings have been cancelled due to the weather warnings but rival ferry operator Bluebridge has not cancelled any of its sailings. A spokesperson said they will closely monitor conditions.

The Interislander vessel Arahura will cross the Cook Strait this evening but all services after that have been cancelled until further notice.

Interislander acting general manager Ross Allen says the predicted conditions from both Met Service and Civil Defence would make crossing the Strait “too risky”.

“We are extremely apologetic to our customers and hope they will understand our rationale for cancelling the sailings,” he said.

“We are now working to contact affected customers and to move them to alternative sailings outside the weather warning period.”

The Interislander plans to resume sailings on Sunday morning, weather permitting.

By Monday, the storm is expected to be well and truly gone.

"Most of New Zealand will be settled under a ridge of high pressure with light winds almost everywhere," says Mr Duncan.

Areas that could be hit with 150km/h winds include the Hawke's Bay, Wanganui, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Wellington, Nelson, Marbourough, Buller and Wairarapa.
Winds almost as strong are possible in Taranaki, Waitomo, Taumaranui and Gisborne.

"It may be short but this system is very aggressive and may be one of the nastier lows we see in New Zealand this year," says Mr Duncan. "Friday afternoon will be a good time to clear gutters, bring in outdoor furniture and boaties should urgently secure moorings ahead of the gales."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

1st March 2012
WEYMOUTH: Condor Ferry berth repairs will take at least four weeks

 

CONDOR Ferries will operate its service from Poole until the end of March while £50,000 repairs are carried out to their berth in Weymouth.

Work on the harbour wall is due to start soon and, depending on site and weather conditions, could take up to three weeks to complete with another week of monitoring to ensure the work has been successful and the berth is safe to use.

Weymouth and Portland council said that the problem appeared to be that fill material was being lost from behind the harbour wall which was threatening its stability.

A solution is likely to involve filling the void with cement or cement-foam products.

Weymouth and Portland council environment spokesman Councillor Ian Roebuck said: “The borough council is committed to enabling Condor Ferries to resume scheduled sailings from Weymouth as soon as possible and to continue this service into the future long term and I am confident we are making every effort to ensure that this happens.  

“We recognise the need for Condor to provide their passengers with certainty about their sailings and this timetable should give ample contingency to cover any adverse weather conditions during the repair period.”

Monitoring will continue following Condor Ferries’ return to the berth to ensure the safety of passengers and staff.

The council said that this was an immediate repair to allow Condor Ferries to resume sailings from the port as soon as possible and ensure berth stability throughout the summer and beyond.  

More in-depth investigations with be carried out by the council with a view to conducting any further repair work which may be required to provide long-term stability for the berth during the winter of 2012-13.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Mackinac Island Ferry Service Dispute Picks Up
By Peter Payette

Interlochen Public Radio
March 1, 2012

The dispute over ferry boat service to Mackinac Island appears to be
gaining new momentum as the travel season approaches. Ferry boat
operators say it's becoming a challenge to stay in business.

Last year, Mackinac Island more than doubled the fees it charges ferry
companies and required them to operate longer hours. Chris Shepler,
owner of Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry, says with the rising price of
fuel it's becoming impossible to cover their costs.

"It's kind of a joke here in our office it's strangulation by
regulation" says Shepler.

The attorney for Mackinac Island says the ferry companies always
complain they can't make a profit. Tom Evashevski says the Island is
willing to be flexible about schedules and just agreed to let the
ferries increase the price of their tickets.

"Every rate request that was made was approved."

Evashevski says the ferry services still offer discounts to all kinds of
visitors and run more boats than required during the busiest parts of
the day.

Unlike last year, the ferry companies seem to be speaking in unison.
Back in 2010 one company, Arnold Transit, had asked the city for a
monopoly on boat service in exchange for lowering ticket prices. Chris
Shepler accused the Island and Arnold of conspiring to put him out of
business. Even though it didn't get a monopoly, Arnold praised the new
agreements and even the fact that it would pay the city more money. Now
Arnold Transit, is voicing the same concerns as Shepler's.

Once this round of negotiations is over the end of current franchise
agreements will be in sight. They expire in the spring of 2013. The
city's attorney says one option Mackinac Island will look at is creating
a transportation authority to run the ferry service itself. Ferry boat
companies can only operate with an agreement with the Island.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

12.40 update) Hawkesbury bridges and ferries now closed due to flooding

PETER GLADWELL

03 Mar, 2012 12:31 PM

Floodwater continues to surge down the Hawkesbury River, resulting in the closure of both North Richmond and Windsor Bridges and they may stay closed for the next 48 hours says the RMS.

The 12.30pm SES update said both bridges, along with the Yarramundi Bridge, which is now under more than 1-2 metres of water, will be closed for the next 48 hours.

The RMS has confirmed that both the Sackville and Lower Portland Ferries have ceased operation.

Other closures expected over the weekend include:

- The Webbs Creek Ferry

- The ferry at Wisemans Ferry.

The NSW SES is advising residents to contact Live Traffic RTA on 132 701 for further information.

A Flood Watch which has been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for moderate flooding is current for the catchment based on forecast rain for the next couple of days.

Flood Evacuation Orders have been issued for areas around Pitt Town Bottoms, Richmond Lowlands and Grono Point as well as caravan parks in low lying areas along the Hawkesbury River from Windsor to Wisemans Ferry. NSW SES volunteers are in the field doorknocking in these areas instructing residents to leave immediately.

The NSW SES is advising people to go to the house of a friend or relative in the first instance. Alternatively evacuation centres are set up in the following locations:

- Windsor Baptist Church, Corner Blacktown Road and George Street South Windsor

- North Richmond Neighbourhood Centre, William Street North Richmond.

- Glenorie RSL Club, Corner Post Office and Old Northern Roads, Glenorie.

The NSW SES is monitoring the situation and advises:

- People working, living or camping near rivers and streams must monitor the latest weather forecasts and warnings and listen to the radio for updates and advice.

- Farmers and other landholders should keep a watch on their streams and be prepared to move pumps, equipment and livestock to higher ground. Please ensure adequate feed is available.

- Don’t drive, ride or walk in floodwater. Water may be over low lying causeways.

- FloodSafe advice is available at http://www.ses.nsw.gov.au

For emergency assistance in floods and storms, call the SES on 132 500

For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately

For the latest weather forecast: http://www.bom.gov.au

Also stay following the Hawkesbury Gazette website and facebook page, by logging onto facebook, searching for The Hawkesbury Gazette and hitting "like" to put us in your news feed.

More updates as they come to hand.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Bangladesh

BARISAL, Mar 2 (UNB): The dilapidated condition of 22 ferries being operated under Barisal division is severely affecting the ferry service, inflicting sufferings on passengers of the region.

The rundown ferries have long been operating on various waterways of the region despite having cracks in their bodies and glitches in control panels of their enginerooms.

Of the ferries, six are operating under Roads and Highways Department of Barisal, two under Jhalakati and four under Pirojpur, two under Barguna and four under Patuakhali.

Mothbaria Upazila Health Officer Rafikul Islam Dipu said most of the time he has to go to Pirojpur district town crossing the Boleshwar river to attend their monthly meeting or other emergency purposes, but the ferry used for crossing the river is very old and small.

The ferry takes an unusual time to cross the Boleshwar due to faults in the control panel of its engine room though it is supposed to take only eight minutes to cross the river, said Mahbub, a driver of the ferry.

Contacted, deputy assistant engineer of Barisal ferry division Anwar Hossain said most of these ferries are in bad shape. "We've brought it to the notice of the department for providing new ferries, but there has been no response so far," headded.

"The ferries have turned fragile as those have to carry overloaded trucks," said M Moazzem Hossain, in-charge of Barguna and Patuakhali Roads and Highways Department.

"A project proposal involving Tk 0.1 billion to procure new ferries has already been sent to the Planning Commission," said M Rafikul Islam, executive engineer of shipbuilding department, Dhaka.

Work for building new ferries will start once the project gets approval, he said. 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The St Mawes Ferry Company has just announced its best year ever.

 



The St Mawes Ferry

 

The company, which runs the year-round ferry service between St Mawes and Falmouth, reported that in 2011, more than 162,000 passengers climbed aboard the classic wooden ferries, which include May Queen, Queen of Falmouth and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Operations manager, Garrick Royle, said: “It’s been a great year and we are really proud of our team who take such pride in the service.

“As both Falmouth and St Mawes have more to offer with festivals and events, such as the Fal River Festival, the Fal River Walking Festival and attractions and superb places to eat, people now have more reason than ever to travel between the two.”

MD Tim Light added: “Despite the tough economic climate we’ve had a great year and we’re rewarding our customers by freezing our prices this year.”

And Light expressed his confidence over business for the year ahead. “We have just recorded the busiest January we have ever had,” he said, “and we are investing in new services and employing new staff to reflect this confidence.”

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

THERE was a buzz around the Gold Coast City Marina recently when the first ferry in about two decades was launched.

The $4 million, 24m ferry has been built by the crew at MEC (Marine Engineering Consultants) for use ferrying LNG construction contractors between Gladstone and Curtis Island.

The workers will have plenty to keep them occupied on the trip, since the catamaran has been fitted with wireless modems and several flat screen televisions, which use satellite But since the new boat has a cruising speed of 24 knots, the passengers may not have much time to stick their feet up and enjoy the technology.

MEC boss Murray Owen was having flash backs at the boat launch after being involved with the last company that built ferries here, Atlay Cats, in the early 1990s.

"They produced five from about 23 metres to 32 metres here," he said.

"They went to places like China and Hong Kong and I did the deliveries for them."

Mr Owen is hoping MEC will produce more and better ferries than Atlay Cats did back then and said the quick production of the first one for Riverside Marine, was bound to help.

"It was supposed to take eight months, but we built it in about 7," he said.

"I believe Riverside will need more ferries and we are hopeful of getting something out of them.

"I am confident we will produce more ferries."

Mr Owen said he was quoting to build ferries for other companies currently.

While MEC has never built a ferry before, the company did provide the aluminium construction for Brisbane CityCats and Sydney ferries.

"It is unique in a way for us, but not a big change," said Mr Owen.

MEC was established by Mr Owen four years ago and then two years on, he decided to focus on producing commercial vessels because of the slump in the luxury boat market.

The company also does a lot of refit work, particularly with super-yachts, and Mr Owen said the company's diversified approach had enabled him to keep about 50 staff and contractors during the downturn.

"The refits and commercial work have kept us going," he said.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

‘No support’ for Kyles ferry extension plan

The Scottish Ferries Review's draft plan proposes extending the timetable of the Rhubodach-Colintraive ferry crossing to midnight in the hope of giving Bute's economy a boost.


Published on Friday 2 March 2012 09:01

 

PROPOSALS in the Scottish Ferries Review to extend the timetable of the secondary route to Bute are likely to attract little or no local support, according to the island’s community council.

 

The review’s draft plan, out for consultation until March 30, suggests that an ideal service model for Bute’s two routes would see a timetable running from 6am until midnight each day.

The plan rules out such a change on the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay route on cost grounds, but proposes extending the Kyles ferry timetable along those lines instead, and asks for the views of the local community on whether such a service would be well used.

But at a meeting of Bute Community Council’s transport committee this week, attended by BCC members, local councillors, officials from CalMac Ferries Ltd and Argyll and Bute Council and the public, there was little or no enthusiasm for the proposal.

BCC chair Grace Strong told the meeting: “Everyone I’ve been speaking to about a midnight ferry says, without exception, ‘what a daft idea’.”

Instead, BCC in its response to the review is to suggest the island would be better served by a year-round extension of the Rhubodach-Colintraive timetable to 9pm – currently the time of the last ferry from April to August only – and by later ferries between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay on Friday and Saturday nights.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Delta ferry reopens after repairs
By Ross Farrow/News-Sentinel Staff Writer

Lodi News-Sentinel
Posted: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:00 am
Updated: 6:18 am, Wed Feb 29, 2012.

The Real McCoy II Ferry is now open for limited service. The California
Department of Transportation us offering three round-trip crossings of
the ferry per hour between Rio Vista and Ryer Island.

The ferry will offer its scheduled crossings on the hour, 20 minutes
after the hour and 40 minutes after the hour. Caltrans' ultimate goal is
to move from the limited schedule and return the ferry to its full,
uninterrupted 24/7 service.

Ferry service was shut down for repairs since September. Caltrans will
continue to provide updated operating information for the Real McCoy II
and J-Mack ferries on the Ryer Island ferry update hotline at 510-622-0120.

__._,_.___

 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Published on Sunday 4 March 2012 01:11

 

RESIDENTS of a tourism hotspot are fighting to save the last major car ferry to Skye from a cut in subsidies that they say threatens their livelihoods.

 

The route between Mallaig and Armadale in south-east Skye is used by up to 220,000 travellers a year, bringing jobs and income to both the mainland around the fishing town and the island’s remote Sleat peninsula.

But a reduction in government subsidies for the popular summer service – run by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) – is under consideration as part of the Government’s wide-ranging review of Scotland’s ferry network, which is due to conclude at the end of this month.

Campaigners say the ferry is the “lifeblood” of their community and have been angered by comments in a government draft report which states that “the ferry service is now mainly about providing tourists with the opportunity to travel via Skye and the mainland in a different way from the road connection”.

It wants other commercial operators to bid for the route to drive subsidy costs down.

But residents and local businesses fear that a cut in subsidies could lead to a loss of visitors to the area and a reduction in services if prices rise and tourists decide to abandon the ferry crossing for the free Skye bridge route further north.

One of the campaign leaders, Councillor Allan Henderson, provost of Lochaber and whose ward covers Mallaig, said: “We need to return everyone’s focus on the threat of reducing the summer subsidy. The proposal spells danger. If you alter one part of the service it will ruin the economics of the west coast.”

Part of the problem is the success of the service which has enjoyed a 30 per cent increase in fare-paying passengers – from 168,000 to 220,000 – in the past eight years.

The route is popular among travellers who want to avoid the 70-mile trip north involved in driving to the bridge from Fort William rather than taking the scenic 43-mile Road to the Isles west, which ends at the fishing port of Mallaig.

The only other car ferry from the mainland is the community owned Glenelg-Kylerhea ferry, the only remaining manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland, but which can only take around three cars at a time and is at the end of a long stretch of twisting minor roads.

The Mallaig-Armadale service passenger figures have risen even though a single fare for a car with two passengers is now £31.30 and a single passenger fare is £4.35. The bridge crossing over the Kyle of Lochalsh has been free since tolls were abolished in 2004. But the government is concerned that it is still paying out around £60m a year to subsidise CalMac fares even on routes – such as Mallaig-Armadale – where demand is high.

Martin Carty, who has run the Moorings guest house in Mallaig with his wife Jennifer for the past 15 years, said: “This area relies pretty much on the tourist trade. If the prices went up those on the trail to Skye would go from Oban to Fort William, Spean Bridge, Invergarry to Kyle of Lochalsh and then over to Skye by the bridge.

“If tourists cut out this part of the journey it would leave a huge area, including the Sleat peninsula, devoid of visitors.

“It just doesn’t make sense considering the Scottish Government stated in 2006 that it had set a target for a 50 per cent growth in tourism over ten years. Whatever the subsidy is, the Scottish Government is going to lose out in broken businesses and people going on the dole.”

Christine Jamieson, the marketing manager at Clan Donald in Armadale, who helped co-ordinate a response to the draft report, said the area could ill afford to lose one of its main generators of income.

“Tourism is our lifeblood,” she said. “The buzz word at the moment is ‘connectivity’ and how transport networks merge. But in some ways the draft report makes grandiose statements, but reads like a cost-cutting document.”

Rhoda Grant, the Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands and spokeswoman for enterprise, energy and tourism, said: “I have no problem with the draft review thinking about tourism, but it needs to look at local communities and how people move about. They have not asked the right questions or examined the connectivity of getting ferries to join up to help the local economy.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The future procurement of services on this route will look for bidders to come forward with proposals that will minimise the subsidy involved for the summer period. This level of subsidy will depend on what comes forward during the tender.”

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

4 March, 2012 5:04PM AEDT

Locals flock to Windsor to watch the river rise...and fall

Minor flooding continues at North Richmond along the Hawkesbury River, but at Windsor the river has fallen below minor flood level.

  •  

They came for the rise, and they were there for the slow fall.

Locals have again visited the Windsor and North Richmond bridges to sneak a peak at the swollen torrent.

The bridges reopened today.

702 producer Jen Lacey spoke to some locals about the flooding at the Windsor Bridge, shortly after it reopened on Sunday.

Just before 4pm Sunday, the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond was 6.25m and falling, while at Windsor it was steady at 5.46m.

weather warnings and flood updates

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Martha's Vineyard ferry service is weather and design dependent
By Nelson Sigelman

Martha's Vineyard Times
February 29, 2012

The timing for Martha's Vineyard travelers could not have been worse.
School vacation week began Saturday with gale force gusts out of the
west and Steamship Authority ferry cancellations, the majority by the
Island Home, the boatline's newest and largest ferry.

Early Saturday morning, Islanders with a reservation on the Martha's
Vineyard held something of a winning lottery ticket. The older,
single-ended ferry held to its schedule throughout the morning as winds
blew between 30 and 40 miles per hour and gusted to 49.

The story was different on the Island Home. The new, $32-million
double-ender did not cross Vineyard Sound until 1:15 pm, when she left
Woods Hole on her first trip of the day. Sunday, the Island Home failed
to make its first trip of the day due to weather, an 8:15 am departure
from Woods Hole. Island travelers with reservations on the 9:30 am trip
to Woods Hole were left high and dry.

Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said this week that there are many
factors that affect the decision to sail. They include the direction of
the wind, the direction of the tidal current in Vineyard Sound, the
judgment of the ferry captain, and the handling characteristics, which
differ among the vessels.

"We were fortunate to be able to get the trips in with the Martha's
Vineyard," Mr. Lamson said in a telephone call with The Times Tuesday.

Ultimately, he said, the decision to cancel a trip is left to the ferry
captain's judgment. "They are ultimately responsible," he said. "That
decision is left to the captain. Management would not tell somebody to
go when they do not think it would be appropriate."

Mr. Lamson acknowledged that there is a degree of subjectivity. For
example, the decision to sail at 1:15 pm, Saturday coincided with a
change of captain and crew.

Mr. Lamson said he thinks it was more a case of a change in the
direction of the current than crew Saturday, but he agreed there is a
degree of variability.

Passenger and crew safety is the primary consideration, according to Mr.
Lamson. "When a captain feels that it is not safe, or somebody could get
hurt, he is not willing to take that chance, that risk, and I support
that," he said.

Mr. Lamson said the differences in performance between ferries are
attributable to the differences in the design of the vessels. For
example, the Nantucket continued to run Saturday between Hyannis and
Nantucket. "Probably the best sea-keeping vessel we have is the
Nantucket," he said. "The wind was out of the west. Generally, when it
is out of the east is when we run into problems with the Nantucket route."

Mr. Lamson explained that each ferry design, a double-ender versus a
single-ender, has built in trade-offs, and each port presents specific
problems depending on the direction of the wind.

On Saturday, the Island Home's tall superstructure would have added to
the difficulty as she entered the Woods Hole passage, a channel known
for boiling strong currents, with a west wind pushing her from left to
right across the channel.

"Trying to make the turn in Woods Hole and then keep a course and then
make the stop before the vessel gets into the slip can be very
challenging," Mr. Lamson said.

Once the Island Home did begin running, the lift decks, which can
accommodate eight vehicles on each side, remained up to keep the
vessel's center of gravity as low as possible and increase stability, he
said.

Unhappy

In a Letter to the Editor published in today's Times, an unhappy Leah
Casey of Oak Bluffs said she and her family had a reservation on the
cancelled 9:30 am Island Home and were forced to wait until the
afternoon to board a boat, even as the SSA loaded trucks rather than
automobiles. She wanted to know why the SSA did not bump "enormous,
probably empty, trucks" to allow long-delayed passenger vehicles to board.

Mr. Lamson said the current policy is to board reservations first for a
scheduled trip that runs, not those that have been bumped. They will be
loaded as space allows on trips that run.

"We would take them before standbys that didn't have any reservations,"
he said.

He said the advantage of this system as opposed to simply pushing each
reservation back is that it disrupts only those who held a reservation
for a cancelled trip, "rather than having a domino effect throughout the
day."

To the point of Ms. Casey's letter, he said the SSA would not bump a
truck driver holding a reservation but does work with the companies to
open up spaces when there is a considerable backup. He said the SSA
would ask if there is any way that the company can move a reservation or
go later, perhaps another day.

Mr. Lamson said that depending on the weather, the SSA will issue travel
advisories when it expects possible cancellations. In this case, there
was some uncertainty.

He said many people anticipated cancellations due to the forecast of
high winds and so traveled Friday. He said he understands the
frustration people experience when there are cancellations. "It is
unfortunate," he said. "We know how much people rely on the service, in
particular this week when people are heading off for vacations and
perhaps flights and other commitments that have been made. The crews do
everything that they can to run if at all possible."

Numbers compared

On Saturday, the Island Home missed three trips out of Vineyard Haven: 7
am, 9:30 am, and noon. That translates into about 180 vehicles left
waiting to cross.

Looking at 2011, Mr. Lamson said the Island Home was scheduled for 4,414
trips. She cancelled 59 trips due to weather and six trips due to
mechanical issues. She made greater than 98 percent of her scheduled
runs, he said.

By comparison, the Martha's Vineyard was scheduled for 2, 978 runs in
2011, between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven and cancelled 14 trips due
to weather and four for mechanical problems. There were another 952
trips between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs, for which 10 trips were
cancelled due to weather.

In sum, the Martha's Vineyard missed 24 trips due to weather and the
Island Home missed 59. Mr. Lamson said that difference could be
explained in the handling characteristics, particularly in Woods Hole
during certain current and wind conditions.

Martha's Vineyard ferry service is weather and design dependent
By Nelson Sigelman

Martha's Vineyard Times
February 29, 2012

The timing for Martha's Vineyard travelers could not have been worse.
School vacation week began Saturday with gale force gusts out of the
west and Steamship Authority ferry cancellations, the majority by the
Island Home, the boatline's newest and largest ferry.

Early Saturday morning, Islanders with a reservation on the Martha's
Vineyard held something of a winning lottery ticket. The older,
single-ended ferry held to its schedule throughout the morning as winds
blew between 30 and 40 miles per hour and gusted to 49.

The story was different on the Island Home. The new, $32-million
double-ender did not cross Vineyard Sound until 1:15 pm, when she left
Woods Hole on her first trip of the day. Sunday, the Island Home failed
to make its first trip of the day due to weather, an 8:15 am departure
from Woods Hole. Island travelers with reservations on the 9:30 am trip
to Woods Hole were left high and dry.

Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said this week that there are many
factors that affect the decision to sail. They include the direction of
the wind, the direction of the tidal current in Vineyard Sound, the
judgment of the ferry captain, and the handling characteristics, which
differ among the vessels.

"We were fortunate to be able to get the trips in with the Martha's
Vineyard," Mr. Lamson said in a telephone call with The Times Tuesday.

Ultimately, he said, the decision to cancel a trip is left to the ferry
captain's judgment. "They are ultimately responsible," he said. "That
decision is left to the captain. Management would not tell somebody to
go when they do not think it would be appropriate."

Mr. Lamson acknowledged that there is a degree of subjectivity. For
example, the decision to sail at 1:15 pm, Saturday coincided with a
change of captain and crew.

Mr. Lamson said he thinks it was more a case of a change in the
direction of the current than crew Saturday, but he agreed there is a
degree of variability.

Passenger and crew safety is the primary consideration, according to Mr.
Lamson. "When a captain feels that it is not safe, or somebody could get
hurt, he is not willing to take that chance, that risk, and I support
that," he said.

Mr. Lamson said the differences in performance between ferries are
attributable to the differences in the design of the vessels. For
example, the Nantucket continued to run Saturday between Hyannis and
Nantucket. "Probably the best sea-keeping vessel we have is the
Nantucket," he said. "The wind was out of the west. Generally, when it
is out of the east is when we run into problems with the Nantucket route."

Mr. Lamson explained that each ferry design, a double-ender versus a
single-ender, has built in trade-offs, and each port presents specific
problems depending on the direction of the wind.

On Saturday, the Island Home's tall superstructure would have added to
the difficulty as she entered the Woods Hole passage, a channel known
for boiling strong currents, with a west wind pushing her from left to
right across the channel.

"Trying to make the turn in Woods Hole and then keep a course and then
make the stop before the vessel gets into the slip can be very
challenging," Mr. Lamson said.

Once the Island Home did begin running, the lift decks, which can
accommodate eight vehicles on each side, remained up to keep the
vessel's center of gravity as low as possible and increase stability, he
said.

Unhappy

In a Letter to the Editor published in today's Times, an unhappy Leah
Casey of Oak Bluffs said she and her family had a reservation on the
cancelled 9:30 am Island Home and were forced to wait until the
afternoon to board a boat, even as the SSA loaded trucks rather than
automobiles. She wanted to know why the SSA did not bump "enormous,
probably empty, trucks" to allow long-delayed passenger vehicles to board.

Mr. Lamson said the current policy is to board reservations first for a
scheduled trip that runs, not those that have been bumped. They will be
loaded as space allows on trips that run.

"We would take them before standbys that didn't have any reservations,"
he said.

He said the advantage of this system as opposed to simply pushing each
reservation back is that it disrupts only those who held a reservation
for a cancelled trip, "rather than having a domino effect throughout the
day."

To the point of Ms. Casey's letter, he said the SSA would not bump a
truck driver holding a reservation but does work with the companies to
open up spaces when there is a considerable backup. He said the SSA
would ask if there is any way that the company can move a reservation or
go later, perhaps another day.

Mr. Lamson said that depending on the weather, the SSA will issue travel
advisories when it expects possible cancellations. In this case, there
was some uncertainty.

He said many people anticipated cancellations due to the forecast of
high winds and so traveled Friday. He said he understands the
frustration people experience when there are cancellations. "It is
unfortunate," he said. "We know how much people rely on the service, in
particular this week when people are heading off for vacations and
perhaps flights and other commitments that have been made. The crews do
everything that they can to run if at all possible."

Numbers compared

On Saturday, the Island Home missed three trips out of Vineyard Haven: 7
am, 9:30 am, and noon. That translates into about 180 vehicles left
waiting to cross.

Looking at 2011, Mr. Lamson said the Island Home was scheduled for 4,414
trips. She cancelled 59 trips due to weather and six trips due to
mechanical issues. She made greater than 98 percent of her scheduled
runs, he said.

By comparison, the Martha's Vineyard was scheduled for 2, 978 runs in
2011, between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven and cancelled 14 trips due
to weather and four for mechanical problems. There were another 952
trips between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs, for which 10 trips were
cancelled due to weather.

In sum, the Martha's Vineyard missed 24 trips due to weather and the
Island Home missed 59. Mr. Lamson said that difference could be
explained in the handling characteristics, particularly in Woods Hole
during certain current and wind conditions.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

NORTH GUWAHATI, March 4 – In a meeting convened at Majgaon point of Guwahati-North Guwahati under the auspices of IWT Division, Ulubari, on March 1, the Minister for Transport and Tourism, Chandan Brahma while speaking as the distinguished guest in a meeting held in a ship named MV Naranarayan owned by the IWT, assured the gathering to arrange frequent ferry services from 7 am to 8 pm every day not only in Majgaon ghat, but also in the other ferry ghats within the next few days.

Besides, light motor vehicle crossing services in between Guwahati and North Guwahati (Majgaon point) were started from March 1 amidst much public enthusiasm. The Minister narrated how a number of river taxies had already been ready for public use to replace some of the deteriorating ‘Bhutbhuti’ services.

It may be mentioned that eight big ferries would be used to transport light motorvehicles at a fare of Rs 100 per vehicle. The fare of carrying bikes etc, would be Rs 7, it was informed. Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, who accompanied the Transport Minister urged the transport minister to alleviate the sufferings of the commuters by providing improved ferry services from morning till the early hours of the night, including Sundays.

On the demand to take over the ferry services by the department itself, instead of the ongoing leissee system, Minister Brahma assured to do the needful in public interest.

Besides the IWT officials, the meeting was attended by two other MLAs who shared the river cuisine with the ministers.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

A number of Aegean islands are in danger of being without coastal shipping service this summer due to the problems faced by ferry companies as well as the bureaucracy of the state that has complicated the process of allocating services when it abolished the Merchant Marine Ministry.

Sources from the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies (SEEN) have noted that there are a number of issues that must be solved, or fears of many Aegean islands being left without a ferry service could turn into reality over the next few months.

A key problem for the execution of routes and the survival of companies is the high cost of fuel, which last year soared by 44 percent from 2010 and this year is expected to see an even greater increase.

This fact combined with the reduction in passenger and vehicle traffic have rendered a number of routes as loss-making for operating companies.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

25 years ago: 135 drown in North Sea ferry disaster caused by corporate speedup

 

The ferry Herald of Free Enterprise in 1984

On Friday, February 6, 1987, in the first moments after the Dover-bound North Sea ferry Herald of Free Enterprise left the Belgian port of Zeebrugge with 543 people aboard, it capsized in 30 feet of water, causing the drowning deaths of 135 people. This was the largest British maritime disaster since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

 

The sea-lanes across the English Channel were among the busiest in the world with as many as 250 ferry trips each day. Ferry companies were under financial pressure to streamline operations in preparation for the competitive threat posed by the proposed Channel tunnel planned jointly by the UK and France.

The British National Union of Seamen had previously criticized safety procedures on the “roll-on roll-off” channel ferries, in which cars and trucks are driven on and off quickly. The loading doors were often not completely shut while the ferries were in the harbor areas in order to make departures faster and to ventilate exhaust fumes from the vehicles in the ship’s hold.

In a public statement, a spokesman for the company that ran the ferry, Townsend Thoresen said, “We have accepted that it is something to do with the doors. That is how the water rushed in because there is no other hole in the ship.”

Regulations at the time of the accident considered shutting of bow doors before leaving the dock advisable but not mandatory. The Herald of Free Enterprise disaster was the fifth major North Sea ferry accident in as many years.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Macau-

Three applications have been submitted with the Maritime Administration for sailing services from the Pac On ferry terminal.

Reports do not say where the ferry services would sail to, and the names of the bidders have not been announced.

The bid closed on Friday and the Maritime Administration says that before a decision is made it has to take into account “applicants’ ability to provide efficient, safe and comfortable ferry services to the public.”



 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Shanghai - Nagasaki ferry now open for business!
By Jessica Colwell

Shanghaiist
March 1, 2012 5:00 PM

The ferry between Nagasaki and Shanghai that we have been oh-so-excited
about officially launched yesterday.

The service will run once a week for the first few weeks, then expand to
twice a week through the end of May. Price for the ferry runs 13,000 yen
(1,010RMB) one-way for the cheapest tickets. Normal price, something
they are calling "comfort seats", cost 15,000 yen (1,165RMB) one-way.
Unfortunately, that's almost double the prices we were hearing last year.

The whole venture was set up by an amusement park company looking to
draw more people to their park near Nagasaki. The ship itself, a Greek
ex-cruise ship by the name of Ocean Rose, is also run by one of their
subsidiaries. Their goal is to draw around 100,000 passengers annually.

We still can't yet get a read on the specific passenger accommodation.
If this is a 26-hour ride with no bed for $350, then our initial
enthusiasm may be slightly dampened. But it's still cheaper than a
flight, and there's also supposed to be okay food, booze, and gambling
on board. Sounds like a great chance for alcoholics and gambling addicts
looking to indulge our- themselves...on a boat.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

LEEDS, ENGLAND, Mar 06, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- EVBC have launched a ferry ticket website covering all ferry routes to and from the UK in Europe. FerryEurope.co.uk signals diversification for EVBC; Managing partner Fraser Malyk said that the reason for diversifying was simple.

"The sale of ferry tickets compliments perfectly EVBC, our breakdown insurance product for cars in Europe. If you need a ferry and you are taking a car, you will likely need EVBC".

The ferry market has seen a difficult time recently. SeaFrance has gone into administration and the economic climate doesn't appear too favourable for travel in general. Fraser Malyk commented that the economic climate is not of a major concern to him at the moment.

"I don't want to fantasise about what might go wrong. I don't think we will get too much work done. If we were going to throw into a mix a ferry website and booking engine that had no USPs, then I would be more concerned than I am right now."

FerryEurope.co.uk plans to integrate EVBC as well as diversifying further through a number of different products that Fraser was unable to comment on at this moment in time.

"We would be suitably unambitious if we did not have any additional plans that were currently in the development stage. Of course these are confidential for now, but we are developing products that complement our existing suite".

EVBC started in 2009 and since this time, has developed a strong reputation and client base. Serving thousands of happy customers, EVBC intend to take their strong customer service lead business into new markets, where competition is strong, but certainly not insurmountable; given EVBC's track record of entering late and proving successful.

FerryEurope and the sister site, http://www.ferrytoireland.co.uk is currently in the early stages of launch. Fraser Malyk said that the site that you will see within 6 months will not be recognisable.

"FerryEurope.co.uk is in the early stages of launch. We launched quickly and there are many changes that we would like to see already. We have launched with the necessities. We are working on the user experience and the USPs. Watch this space".

Notes to editors

Ferry Europe and EVBC are trading names of Philosophia Limited (Firm Reference Number 503979. Philosophia Limited is an Appointed Representative of ITC Compliance Limited.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Just two weeks after a Fort Lauderdale company publicly complained of government delays on its application for ferry service to Cuba, a U.S. Treasury agency has denied the request.

Officials at Havana Ferry Partners say they will appeal. Its executives see no reason why U.S. authorities allow planes to carry U.S. passengers to Cuba but not ferries. Current U.S. regulations allow both "aircraft and vessels" to serve Cuba as an exception to the U.S. embargo against the communist-led island.

"We're not going away," said Leonard Moecklin Sr., Havana Ferry's managing partner.

 

The denial came from the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees the 50-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba. Its Feb. 27 letter said ferry service to Cuba is "beyond the scope of current policy."

 

Moecklin said his company has contracted Washington, D.C. law firm Arent Fox and its senior policy adviser, former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, to press its case. Dorgan was the author of the 2000 law opening U.S. food sales to Cuba and played a key role in drafting its regulations as he worked to boost North Dakota's exports of beans and other agricultural products.

Havana Ferry Partners is among a handful of U.S. and international companies that want to offer Florida-Cuba ferry service, which had been popular before the embargo. It first applied for a license in 2010. Also interested in the route are Orlando's United Caribbean Lines, Paris' Unishipping and Spain's Balearia, among others.

Moecklin thinks U.S. authorities overlooked ferries last year when they expanded the list of U.S. airports authorized to offer charter flights to Cuba. Those airports now include Fort Lauderdale.

Broward County leaders, from the mayor to port officials, have backed requests for Cuba flights and ferries, hoping the area can cash in if Americans eventually travel freely to the island. Havana Ferry estimates its service alone could create hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs in the county.

Havana Ferry wants to operate a ferry that can hold 500 to 600 passengers and luggage and later, haul freight and vehicles. For now, U.S. passengers would be mostly Cuban-Americans, who are allowed by the Obama administration to visit family on the island whenever they wish.

The Fort Lauderdale company hopes to sell ferry tickets at prices at least $50 cheaper than Florida-Cuba charter flights, which now start at about $400 round-trip.

"The market is waiting for this ferry to open up," Moecklin said. "We can help people that can't afford a $500 flight and the cost of overweight luggage."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The captain of a cargo ship which was in collision with a passenger ferry in Belfast Lough will appear in court on Friday on a drink charge.

The 55-year-old man has been charged with excess alcohol by the master of a ship.

An investigation is under way after the accident, which happened between Carrickfergus and Helen's Bay on Wednesday.

No-one was injured, but both vessels were substantially damaged.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said both captains had been breathalysed.

The Stena Feronia ferry was on its way from Birkenhead, Merseyside, to Belfast when the collision happened about a mile and a half from shore at about 19:45 GMT.

Coxswain of Donaghadee Lifeboat Philip McNamara said the cargo ship, the Union Moon, was brought back to Belfast.

It was carrying 2,000 tonnes of aggregate (stones).

"A large section of her bow was missing and we just stood beside her with a salvage pump ready to go aboard if required," he said.

"It was just - get the lifeboat up as quickly as possible, have the salvage pump ready and prepare to evacuate anybody that had to come off. We were concentrating on how to deal with the situation."

The passenger ferry later docked at the Stena terminal.

The two ships are side-by-side in Belfast Lough

A man who was on the ferry said it was a very frightening experience.

"Basically there was a huge thump. People were being bumped about, thrown by the impact - it was huge.

"Then the emergency alarms went off and there was an announcement from the captain that there had been an incident and they were preparing the lifeboats and we were all put into life jackets."

The passenger praised the catering crew who looked after everyone, but said no one from Stena Line had been in contact with him.

"When I got to shore there was no one from Stena," he said.

"I can imagine some people might have needed a hotel after that - but there was no one there to support the passengers. So far, no one has been in touch from Stena. It would be at least a courtesy for them to get in contact with us.

"They should have been there on the ground. People were scared."

A female passenger said she was sitting in her cabin when she heard a "massive bang".

"Then all the sirens went and we went downstairs and we were all issued with life jackets and told to prepare to get off in the raft," she said.

"I was scared, but the staff were great, very good. They put us all at ease."

Cahill Loughran was also on board with his wife and four children.

"They said we might have to get into lifeboats, they weren't sure what the damage was, and then the captain came on and said the damage was above the waterline," he said.

Diane Poole said safety procedures were rigorous

"There was a hole, but it was above the waterline."

Diane Poole of Stena Irish Sea said the crew on board the ferry went out of their way to make everyone comfortable.

"Our safety procedures are second to none. We have safety drills every Monday - very rigorous training - so our staff are well prepared for any situation at sea," she said.

"They were very calm and looked after the passengers."

However, she apologised for the fact that there was no member of staff on board a coach which took foot passengers to the terminal.

"If we fell down anywhere, it was there," she said.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the police are all involved in the investigation.

Engineers from Stena Irish Sea are currently assessing the damage to the vessel to see how long it will be out of service.

The company said it would be contacting passengers due to sail on the Feronia to offer them alternative travel arrangements or a full refund.

 

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