Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ships in the Sound

This month's 'Ships in the Sound' offers a veritable cornucopia of vessels for readers of a nautical nature to enjoy.  The parade of passing ships has varied from the exotic to the mundane, if there is ever such a thing as a mundane ship.  We had better start at the bread-and-butter end with this offering, the Fri Sea.  Close readers of these pages will remember that a ship from the same group, the Fri Ocean, ran aground on Mull back in the middle of June, story here, which is a shame as these are tidy ships.  She's part of the Norwegian Koppervik Group of some twenty companies who manage vessels in the 'short sea market' - their website is here.

The SC Astrea passed on at least three occasions during the last month.  On this occasion, she was carrying a deck cargo of what look like the masts for wind turbines.  Although she has a Bahamian registration and an English-sounding name, Sea Cargo is another Norwegian firm.

Here's yet another Norwegian ship, the Kaami.  Her owners are Strand Shipping of Rana, website here.  an unfortunate name for a line as one associates it with the term 'stranding'.  She's unusually high in the water, something she might be willing to risk in the recent fine weather, but she'd bounce around like a cork if the weather deteriorated.

It would be an interesting exercise to make a note of the owners of all the cargo ships which pass us, and see if the majority are Norwegian.

We've noticed the Grimm in the Sound before because of her unusual bridge design.  She's German owned and operated, but is registered in Cyprus. She's seen here carrying a cargo of timber from Corpach, near Fort William, to Bremen.

Moving on to the slightly more exotic, this is the Balmoral, a cruise ship belonging to the Fred Olsen line.  With a passenger capacity of  around 1,350, she's small by cruise ship standards.  The website, here, says of her, "Balmoral is our largest and newest cruise ship", having been refitted in 2008.  A little research shows, however, that the ship is far from new, having been built in 1988 for the Royal Cruise Line as the Crown Odyssey - which makes her  twenty-five years old. She was later sold to the Norwegian Cruise Line, before being bought by Fred Olsen in 2006.

This is definitely more exotic.  She's Le Soleal, another of the Compagnie du Ponant's cruise ships - we've seen their Le Boreal before.  As we commented about her sister ship, she's described as a 'yacht' rather than a cruise ship, having only 132 staterooms and suites.  Their website is here and, being typically French, the language describing her is a little flowery - try "white Corian counters in the lobby contrast with the warmth of leather to recall a boat’s hull".

Becoming more exotic by the moment, this is the Polar Pioneer passing down the Sound on the 24th June.  Built in 1985 in Finland as an ice-strengthened research ship, she was refurbished in St Petersberg for polar expedition cruising.  She takes 56 passengers, and the website, here, says of her, "The Polar Pioneer is not a luxury vessel". At least that's refreshingly honest - but what's she doing in the Sound of Mull in late June?

This lovely ship, the Bessie Ellen, was photographed recently by Jim Caldwell off Portuairk - if you haven't seen his beautiful picture it's here.  We saw her on this side of the peninsula on 1st July under full sail, a fine sight.  She's a ketch built in 1904 but still working for a living - she carries "a twelve guest crew".  See the Classic Sailing website here.

This picture of the Lady of Avenel was taken at extreme range.  Sailing under a Dutch flag, originally built in Poland in 1969, she's now rigged as a brigantine.  Heritage Sailing offers adventure holidays aboard, this year's being along the west coast of Scotland - see website here.  She spent the night of 19th July moored in Ardmore Bay on the northeastern corner of the Isle of Mull, opposite Ormsaigbeg.

We couldn't read this beautiful ship's name, but she had a fishing registration, L208, which led to her name, the Eda Frandsen.  She's a large cutter available for charter for voyages along the west coast of Scotland.  As with the Bessie Ellen, she's managed by Classic Sailing - see her website here.

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