90-know winds and 7 metre waves - but our ferries beat the weather
IT'S STORM force but crews were still bravely plying the Irish Sea today to ferry emigrants back to Britain after the New Year celebrations.
While fast ferry sailings on the Jonathan Swift have been cancelled since Monday,, passengers are being accommodated on their larger cruise ferries.
Crew steering the Ulysses super ferry told how they sailed through winds of around 90 knots per hours and seven metre-high waves.
Captain Calum Morrison, Master of the Ulysses, told the Herald that passenger numbers more than tripled due to the Swift cancellations, and the ship was delayed by up to half an hour for each sailing because of the extra load it was carrying.
"We've been very busy. Yesterday morning we had 1,800 passengers, yesterday evening 1,400, and this morning 1,600. We're trying to get everyone back to start work.
"This weather means that you've got high seas and waves to contend with, but the Ulysses is a very good ship. She was designed for this service and she has the power to dock in winds of up to 50 knots.
"In the bad weather, you've got to put extra cargo lashings (chains) to protect the cargo. The ship will roll and pitch and heave about so you've got to put extra precautions in place."
Extra staff were employed on the Ulysses over the last two days to deal with the extra numbers of passengers and the difficult weather conditions.
"Today we were getting gusts at sea in excess of 80 or 90 knots, and even pulling into Dublin port we have around 60 knots. When we're usually sailing at this time of year we'd probably be carrying around 400 or 500 passengers so you can imagine with 1,800 passengers arriving in the morning, we have to have extra staff on the terminal.
"With the weather being adverse, you've got to be more alert as to what track the ship should follow across the Irish Sea. Normally you'd just go straight across but we've had wave heights of up to six and a half and seven metres, so instead of going straight across, we have to go the weather route and try and avoid the ship rolling."
Head of passenger sales Declan Mescall said: "Ulysses is now in service for 11 years and it has never lost a sailing due to adverse weather.
"When it was built, it was the largest car ferry in the world and it's well able to plough through all weather.
"[The captians] are so experienced and they have a huge amount of information and technology available to them that helps them determine what the weather situation is like, and the strength of the wind and the anticipated wave height."
Irish Ferries cancelled a number of its Jonathan Swift fast ferry sailings on the Dublin to Holyhead route today but all passengers could be accommodated on its cruise ferry.