- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

05 September 2010; Peel, Isle of Man.

We made or next “zag” across the Irish Sea and arrived at 0700 at the anchorage of Peel. It was very windy but as the wind was from the South West, it could not whip up any waves and thus we could make our call. As the wind was very blustery and sometimes gusted up to wind force 8, I spent most of my day on the bridge. When the yawning of the anchor became too much we had to reposition again and lower the other anchor to reduce the ships movement. This works most of the time very well as the 2nd anchor puts “the brake” on the movement of the ship before momentum can be gathered. Normally the ship lies behind its anchor and when there is a lot of wind, the ship starts moving behind the anchor as a sort of pendulum. We call that yawning. The 2nd anchor acts like your finger would when you would stop a clock’s pendulum from swinging. The danger is if there is a very strong wind gust and the main anchor starts dragging, that it gets fouled up with the 2nd anchor. Then you are in deep trouble as you cannot easily un-twist two heavy anchor chains entwined with two 6 tons anchors hanging on it. Thus it is something that has to be done carefully and then be closely watched. That meant: captain on the bridge from the time that we approached the anchorage until the safe return to open waters.

While I was fussing around with the anchors, Peel port was giving us a challenge as well with the tender service. We could not dock inside the outer harbour, which has some sort of Marina but were assigned a landing space inside the outer breakwater or Sea-wall. The challenge here was that we had to moor the tender against steps, constructed alongside the side of the sea wall. With high water about 7 steps with low water more then 15 and steep steps too. As a result we had to announce that for people with walking difficulties, not to mention climbing difficulties, this was not a place to go ashore. The breakwater was constructed sometime in the 19th century and in those days they were not so hot on the ADA act and other enhancements for physically challenged people that we take for granted in today’s world.

Still it is something that you have to expect once in awhile. The Prinsendam is visiting ports off the beaten track and then you can come across these situations. The other Isle of Man port that is visited by cruise ships is Douglas the capital. This port is located on the East side of the island and it was my plan B incase of S.W. winds. Now with S.E. winds, Peel was the best place and Douglas was out of the question. Most guests went there on the tours and saw the white capped waves rolling into the harbour while the wind whistled through the town. It was so bad there that the ferry service was suspended for the day.

Peel itself is a nice and picturesque town. It is dominated by a large castle on top of the hill; adjacent to the breakwater pier. Dating from the 11th. century it is now a ruin but still has a very commanding presence over the harbour. When you approach from the sea, the ramparts and towers are clearly visible from quite a distance. The whole medieval aspect is a little bit spoilt though by a large modern chimney, from the local power station, towering above it. Much taller than the castle towers but also much uglier.

We pulled out by 1700 hrs. to sail north towards Oban in Scotland. The guests had had a windy day but a good one, as the Isle of Man is a very nice island. The wind for tomorrow looks the same, so I will not know if I can make the call until I get there as I have to dock outside the sheltered harbour. The Prinsendam is a little bit too big for the inner harbour and if I would go in, it would mean the local ferries would be blocked from going out. No doubt this would upset the harbour master. Thus I will need a bit of shelter from the wind force 9 winds that are expected and they have to blow straight from land to avoid that the wind can build up waves.

I will be early on the bridge tomorrow for the approach and to decide on Yeh or Nay for the day.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your reply to my questions. I know my curiosity can seem “endless” to others.

    Best wishes for Oban to be a “yes”.

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