Worst Ferry Crossing you’ve been on?

Scotrail314209

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This was happening within the breakwater of Ardrossan harbour. I wonder how many of the queuing drivers decided not to board.
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-51522580
Something similar can be seen between 4 and 5 minutes into this video of the Iona ferry. I don't think I've ever been to or from Iona in conditions as rough as that, but I have experienced difficulty as a foot passenger in getting ashore with dry feet.

Never underestimate the CalMac skippers. They are probably one of the best in the world, given their sheer skill at docking ferries in extremely horrible conditions.
 
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miklcct

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In my previous country, all ferries stop operating when there is a gale force typhoon warning. How come people here are experiencing F8/9/10 conditions?!
 

Aljanah

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In my previous country, all ferries stop operating when there is a gale force typhoon warning. How come people here are experiencing F8/9/10 conditions?!
Sometimes the weather gets worse after the ferry puts to sea.

e.g. 11 years ago we had

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11708004

"A ferry stranded off the north east coast of Scotland in "atrocious" high seas has docked in Fife after more than a day at sea.
Strong winds left 87 passengers stranded on the NorthLink passenger ferry Hjaltland.
The ferry was supposed to dock in Aberdeen at 0700 GMT on Monday after travelling overnight from Shetland.
It finally arrived in Rosyth at about 0124 GMT on Tuesday after a decision to take the ferry 100 miles south."
 

stuu

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In my previous country, all ferries stop operating when there is a gale force typhoon warning. How come people here are experiencing F8/9/10 conditions?!
The ferries being discussed are generally sea going ships rather than the normal ferries in HK. Cross Channel ferries can be up to 50000 tons
 

Tracked

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Have been fairly lucky on ferry crossings, not something I've done much recently, last time would've been over to Islay in 2010; it was quite wet and windy on the way there, after getting off I was swaying for about 20 minutes afterwards.

See the Dieppe-Newhaven route's been mentioned a few times, there was once early-mid 90's on the way home from a family holiday when it got quite lively out in the middle of the channel. Seasickness and a few broken plates in the kitchen didn't bother me or my parents, the only issue was visits to the toilet being nearly as grim as French Motorway toilets (the obvious reason, and the stand-up urinal in a storm reason). :o

Maybe doesn't count, but I went on a tour from Mull to Fingal's Cave once, tiny converted fishing boat on what looked like calm seas. Tiny converted fishing boat fitting with benches and nothing much to cling on to, on what turned out not to be as calm a sea as it looked, came back with a few bruises ...
 

Scotrail314209

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On the subject of bad crossings.

There was a close call on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry today (MV Isle of Lewis) as a small fire broke out in a camper van.

Nobody was hurt but the RNLI were scrambled as was another CalMac vessel, MV Loch Tarbert.


A FERRY was forced to reroute off a Scots coast after a camper van's fridge caught FIRE on board.

A fire took hold in the car deck of Calmac Ferries' MV Isle of Lewis as it was travelling between Oban and Castlebay.
 

thejuggler

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High speed cat from Weymouth to Guernsey in December with a 5m swell was interesting.

Our party of 5 all took anti sea sick tablets before the trip and I suspect us and the crew were the only ones not seeing their breakfast again.

I also once took the long trip from Oban to Islay via Colonsay. It was very close to being cancelled due to high winds, but the captain took the decision to go and the tablets came into their own again. Plenty of very ill people on board.
 

matchmaker

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Living on Shetland for many years means I experienced several rough crossings on the Aberdeen ferry. One I was not on, but a friend was in the early 1980s, comes to mind. The ferry left Aberdeen on time at 1800 for the normal 14 hour trip. My friend experienced a very rough trip but wisely stayed in his bunk, and the next morning looked out of the cabin window, expecting to see Lerwick Harbour. What he actually saw was Scapa Flow in Orkney...

They eventually arrived in Lerwick after a total of 42 hours at sea, with several wrecked cars after a trailer shifted on the car deck!
 

PeterY

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I once visited Rathlin Island, on the small ferry from Ballycastle. I'm not in any hurry to do that trip again. It was like being in a washing machine. I must admit I did feel queezy
 

Ediswan

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High speed cat from Weymouth to Guernsey in December with a 5m swell was interesting.
Normandie Express is a one channel high speed cat. When I first used it, there was all vinyl flooring, no carpet. The reason soon became clear.

When last seen, it had very short pile carpet. I don't know whether they 'did something' to improve the ride, or found a machine capable of cleaning the carpet. All subsequent crossing have been relatively calm.
 

rpjs

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Another vote for Newcastle-Bergen. It was a summer sailing in June 1990 but we hit a storm late in the evening after departure. The following morning the captain announced that it was the worst summer storm he'd encountered on that route. The return sailing a couple of weeks later was like a milkpond.
 

AndrewE

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Perhaps I should have offered this earlier...
One February about 30 years ago a friend and I decided to use our free passes and so we paid our Port Taxes to explore the Newhaven - Dieppe route and buy some alcohol in France... so maybe it was even longer ago!
We travelled overnight to Newhaven, only to find that the first sailing would not be operating because it had been too rough for the French boat to come over. A couple of hours were spent going to Seaford for a walk along the prom and back, where we saw sea-front houses with windows broken and others boarded up, plus lots of shingle and big pot-holes in the road with fish swimming round in them!
Back at Newhaven we set off for France, but were obviously losing time. We arrived after the ship should have left to return, but the tannoy announcement said "If anyone wants to go ashore, we shall be here for at least an hour and a half" so we nipped off for some exploring and hasty shopping.
Coming back was worse. We steamed West down the Channel and I remember seeing the night-time lights of Brighton off to starboard (and also losing a sick-bag which went straight up and over my head as I was looking into the SW wind!)
After going below the tannoy said "We are about to turn, please all sit down and hold on to something solid!" A right-hand turn was executed successfully and we then ran back up-Channel to Newhaven where we disembarked hours after the through train for London should have left. We jumped on the first local, leapt out at Lewes and asked "What about London passengers?" They said "Get on the train being held at Platform 3 (or whatever)!" and so we got into London very late, arriving at Euston in time to miss the last train on the WCML. A taxi to St Pancras got us there only just in time to get the last train to Sheffield where my friend lived... another taxi got us to his flat where I slept on the sofa.
Home across the Pennines to Crewe, wrecked, the next morning!
 

Southsider

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The Greek Islands ferry skippers would give them a run for their money....

To be honest that looks fairly tame compared to even relatively sheltered Cal-Mac berthings.
Many of the Greek island skippers will have learned their trade on former Clyde vessels, most of which were sold to that region at their end of service in Scotland.
 

Whistler40145

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Douglas (Isle of Man) to Liverpool on sea cat, it was pretty rough, not only rocking backwards and forwards, but side to side
 

Grumpus63

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I've been on a few choppy crossings between various places including Lerwick to Aberdeen and Stranraer to Larne but the worst was a crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone back in 1981. We arrived by turbotrain from Paris for a hovercraft to Dover but the cross-Channel transport was being disrupted by bad weather and the previous service to the one we were booked on was still on the apron waiting to leave. Eventually it left into the unknown for what must have been a horrendous and quite dodgy journey. We were then told that all services were suspended as the weather was worsening and were directed to the ferry terminal. We waited for several hours and eventually the ship put out to sea in a force something or other gale. I thought it quite entertaining at first until the first wave of nausea swept over me accompanied by the sounds of breaking glass and crockery from the bar area. Suitcases and people were barely indistinguishable from each other in shabby, scattered groups, some people lying on the floor, moaning while others tried to sleep. A sadistic few ate and drank copiously and joyously, revelling in their immunity, within sight and hearing of us less-favoured mortals. Ultimately, upon arrival in Folkestone we were conveyed by East Kent coaches to London at a rapid pace and I arrived there at something like 2 am. A grim end to THAT break.
 

DerekC

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Whole family (self, wife & three kids) coming back from St Malo to Southampton (9 hours) many years ago on a fairly small ferry by today's standards. It wasn't that rough, but wave direction was wrong and she rolled and rolled and rolled. The captain kept apologising and trying to improve things by steering a slightly different heading, but it didn't make any difference. Our lot seem fairly immune to seasickness but decided to sit out on the forward deck anyway. I was sent to the cafeteria for sausage, egg and chips all round. It took two round trips and I vividly recall walking forward along a corridor in the centre of the ship, which was rotating round me. Visual field and balance contradicting each other, trying to stay upright and not drop the lot. Made it feeling a bit queasy - so the family scoffed the lot including mine as well! Eventually got into the lee of the Isle of Wight and things calmed down!!
 

Martin2013

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Two instances.

The first one during a family holiday to Germany back at Easter 2000. We were meant to take the Sea Cat from Dover to Oostende but due to a combination of mechanical problems and poor weather we ended up on the Hovercraft to Calais instead and all ended up sitting apart. It was a really rough crossing and whilst me and my family all avoided being sick most other passengers were.

The second was returning from France with school on the overnight Le Havre to Portsmouth Ferry. We were in windowless cabins on the very bottom deck and it was really rough. I slept through most of it although woke up every couple of hours. We all eventually dropped off to sleep and ended up sleeping through breakfast to the point where a member of staff awoke us and told us we were boarding the coach in 5 minutes. The same member of staff then stood up at the front of the coach and went on about how he'd enjoyed his waffles and bacon and egg!
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Liverpool-Dublin 1990-ish, Irish Ferries. Force 9 predicted.
Ferry left the dock on time, travelled 200 yards and tied up on the other side of the dock for 8 hours, as it was Force 10 outside now.
Unable to open the bar as we had "not left port", but also unable to disembark or cancel the trip.
Reached Dublin the following day in very rough weather after about 16 hours, just in time to fly back to Liverpool in about 30 minutes.
Missed customer meeting.

Otherwise I've been very lucky with ferries, including a sunny and scenic Wellington-Picton trip in NZ, reputedly a brute.
Some of the BC ferries up the west coast of Canada are similar in scenery, and being inshore are usually smooth.
Favourite is the Stockholm-Turku ferry via Mariehamn through 2 archipeligos, again usually smooth.
I don't know how they navigate the constantly twisting channel through the islands, though I'm sure they have all the tech aids.
Most disappointing was a Sorrento-Amalfi trip in thick fog and steamed-up windows on the fast ferry. Smooth it might have been, scenic it was not.
 

Farang

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My worst never happened. In the 80s I schlepped all the way from Reading to Harwich by train only for the crew to decide they were going on strike. No alternative but to turn round and go home.
 

markindurham

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The Spirit class were never used on the Western Channel, though there was a crazy idea to use the Pride of Bruges on a Portsmouth - Channel Islands route in a P&O bid to take over from Condor. You would have been on the Pride of Cherbourg or Hampshire, ex Viking Venturer /Valiant from Townsend Thoresen days, seriously ugly ships with a brutalist resemblance to the Spirit class, and as you say, we'll past their best.



Not strictly true. Each incident contributed hugely to safety in different ways. The Herald disaster led to the very rapid implementation of the ISM code, designed to reduce human /procedure failings - effectively making quality assurance mandatory on all international ships. This was the biggest change in shipboard safety since the Titanic (which lead to the introduction of SOLAS). It was designed to prevent, for example, a bow door being left open by accident, with closed loop reporting and checklists, and to improve responsibility in the office, so shipboard concerns could no longer be ignored, both massive issues at Townsend.

Physical changes to the ships were limited, mainly things like sensors, to ensure that a similar incident couldn't happen again.

The Estonia was a design issue with the ship, rather than a procedural issue - like most ro-ro ferries at the time she was not designed to cope with large amounts of water on the car deck. The Stockholm convention rapidly followed her casualty, leading to sponsons, watertight doors and other features to allow ships to survive an intake of water on the car deck.

In hindsight, it was obviously a great shame that physical design changes didn't follow the Herald, but the changes that did happen were massive, and have saved lives across the whole shipping industry, whereas the Estonia's changes only affected ferries. Even if they had been made, the relatively short time between the two incidents would probably not have been enough to make the legislation and modify every ship, so it may not have saved her.
Professional seafarer here - one whose ship passed the Herald Of free Enterprise about an hour after she had capsized. Our Master offered our services, but we were thanked for the offer & sent on our way as they had plenty of ships on scene already, & as we were a gas tanker realistically all we could have offered was extra life saving gear and boats. It was a VERY sombre atmosphere on board that night...

Free Surface Effect - water sloshing about on an open car deck is the one most folk know, thanks to the Herald & Estonia tragedies; however it has caused several ships to be lost as a consequence of fire fighting on board and the water from the hoses not draining away quickly. The Normandie in New York, and one of Canadian Pacific's Empress liners in Liverpool are two of the most high profile casualties; both capsizing at their moorings.

Finally - the Pride of Hampshire. I did a Cherbourg to Portsmouth crossing on her, back in August 2000. As I drove on board, I was horrified to see the state she was in, inside the car deck. Great sheets of rust hanging off, cables dangling, rusty water streaks on the bulkheads... What a wreck she looked...
 

Rhinojerry

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The MV Winston Churchill,Newcastle to Ejsberg in 1983 i think.Horrible.
The mv St Edmund in South Atlantic 1982,three bad storms,how we survived i do not know. BR Sealink ferry,she was great.
 

Wolfie

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The MV Winston Churchill,Newcastle to Ejsberg in 1983 i think.Horrible.
The mv St Edmund in South Atlantic 1982,three bad storms,how we survived i do not know. BR Sealink ferry,she was great.
Re last para, Falklands war? If so respect sir.

Professional seafarer here - one whose ship passed the Herald Of free Enterprise about an hour after she had capsized. Our Master offered our services, but we were thanked for the offer & sent on our way as they had plenty of ships on scene already, & as we were a gas tanker realistically all we could have offered was extra life saving gear and boats. It was a VERY sombre atmosphere on board that night...

Free Surface Effect - water sloshing about on an open car deck is the one most folk know, thanks to the Herald & Estonia tragedies; however it has caused several ships to be lost as a consequence of fire fighting on board and the water from the hoses not draining away quickly. The Normandie in New York, and one of Canadian Pacific's Empress liners in Liverpool are two of the most high profile casualties; both capsizing at their moorings.

Finally - the Pride of Hampshire. I did a Cherbourg to Portsmouth crossing on her, back in August 2000. As I drove on board, I was horrified to see the state she was in, inside the car deck. Great sheets of rust hanging off, cables dangling, rusty water streaks on the bulkheads... What a wreck she looked...
Re your first para l was still somewhere inside at that point. Took me three hours to get out. My best friend didn't make it.
 

mmh

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The Mersey Ferry. The only time I've thrown up on a boat. In my defence, I was about 8 and on a school trip.
 

markindurham

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Re last para, Falklands war? If so respect sir.


Re your first para l was still somewhere inside at that point. Took me three hours to get out. My best friend didn't make it.
My respect & condolences - not something that will ever leave you, I suspect.

As for the St Edmund - I did 2 northbound & 1 southbound Falklands - Ascension trips on her when she was HMT "Keren", joining/leaving my own ship that was 'down South' as a STUFT. *shudders*
 

341o2

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Penzance to St Mary's Isles of Scilly is known as the Great White Stomach Pump, even in good weather can be lively.

Once when I was on the Scillies, the helicopter was grounded due to fog, which meant around 500 people spent their first night in the school hall. The Scillonian was then chartered for an extra journey to get them off to the mainland and a storm blew up. As a resuly, the Scillonian had to wait for four hours offshore before it was safe to enter Penzance harbour.

My personal worst crossing was to Zebrugge in 1984 to see the Ghent trolleybus system. due to a storm, most cross channel ferries had been abandoned, but managed to get aboard this one. hired a cabin and stayed below, the crossing was very lively to say the least
 

Wolfie

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My respect & condolences - not something that will ever leave you, I suspect.

As for the St Edmund - I did 2 northbound & 1 southbound Falklands - Ascension trips on her when she was HMT "Keren", joining/leaving my own ship that was 'down South' as a STUFT. *shudders*
TY and again respect for your support during the South Atlantic campaign.
 

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