Azura, Queen Victoria, Aurora & Balmoral
Four ships for the price of two on the 10th May 2015.  Azura had arrived a day late due to technical issues on the 9th, which had resulted in an overnight in Flåm while Balmoral had norovirus so came back a day early for deep clean.  Only Aurora and Vicky were normal!  Balmoral was scheduled to arrive for 10am so we went down.  It would be the second week running I'd watching her arrival only this time the weather was dry.  Red Eagle decided to photobomb as she came up from Cowes.  I could see her pass Balmoral around Fawley and then slowed as they neared Hythe pier before deciding to emerge just as Bally got close to Aurora  Since Azura was listed to sail at 3pm with Vicky and Aurora 4.30pm, we went back for the departures.  It was pretty busy on the water.  As we walked to the marina, we noticed the new Hythe ferry, Uriah Heep, having more tests.  Great Expectations was out of service but not in refit yet, this hadn't got its MCA certificate while Ashleigh R, which they charter from Blue Funnel, was earning money for its owner so they had no ferry service.  Instead, they hired a coach from Waterside Tours to shuttle people between Hythe and Town Quay.  With just room for sixty passengers (sixty less than Hottie and a hundred fewer than Great Ex), crap with wind and built for low washes on the Thames, I wouldn't be surprised if the MCA don't allow Uriah Heep to sail.  It wouldn't have cost them THAT much to bring Hotspur IV up to standard after their neglect and at least she was built for Southampton Water.  Anyway, CMA CGM Musca was sailing by and Uriah did what you might call legged it to the safety of her side of the pontoon.  Morning Chorus emitted thick black smoke, Uriah had trouble when anything went by, even the Red Funnels.  Basically as soon as either skipper in the wheelhouse saw something bigger than them, they fled to safety.  That really doesn't bode well since anything on the route needs to cope with everything and they can't keep running back to safety.  I have no idea if they have tried a run to Town Quay and back but I'd love to see what happens when a Red Jet zooms by.  Hottie was great but even she rocked.  Great Ex is heavier and she throws you around a bit.  Azura left after the MOL Brilliance had passed.  Red Eagle decided to photobomb Balmoral again after Azura had passed Town Quay.  Once the P&O got nearer the other two she began making a racket at Aurora who replied.  She was next then Vicky.

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© Patricia Dempsey 10th May 2015
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