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A gap of nearly four months between visits to Goole is almost unheard of for me but, to be honest, there has been little to entice me down there recently. My main motivation for this visit wasn't so much the presence of loads of interesting ships so much as the fact that I simply wanted to get a few final photographs before 2011 disappeared down the plughole of history. I persuaded She Who Must be Obeyed to come along by dangling the incentive of a pub lunch in the White Swan in front of her and we set off from York in wonderful sunny and cold winter weather with a strong wind blowing. The weather was so good that I couldn't have anticipated that this would be one of the vanishingly few occasions on which I was rained off, but so it turned out. Howdendyke, with only one ship, was bright and sunny and I managed a shot of Prohov in the West Dock in Goole under similar conditions but already the sky to the west was turning very dark and threatening. By the time I had finished photographing the occupants of the Barge Dock and taken a few snaps of Cherry Sand locking in a few spots of rain were falling, but by the time I had finished off the South Dock, the wind had risen to gale force, and freezing cold rain/sleet was driving in from the west. I just made it back to the car with the camera tucked under my jacket in time to avoid getting thoroughly drenched. It was pretty clear at this point that there was more of the same to come and that the wind direction and strength were such that the rain and I would probably arrive at the Trent simultaneously, so that part of the trip was abandoned and we headed for our pub lunch instead. In the end I missed only four ships, all of which were at Neap House/Grove and only one of which would have been a new sighting. So, in the end, I was quite happy with seven new ships and two new sightings - not too shabby for Goole.
Having heard a rumour that Hepworths had a new build on the stocks I headed for Hull on the afternoon of Sunday 27 November to see what was on the go. The weather was very windy, but bight and sunny and quite cold. The new build turned out to be the stern half of a new bunkering tanker for Rix Petroleum that I understand is to be launched in early 2012. As She Who Must Be Obeyed was in attendance there was time to go looking for much else but, as luck would have it, I don't think there was a lot else on offer anyway. I did manage to stop for a quick look into the Albert/William Wright Docks but that was about it, so this is a pretty small collection.
It seemed like an age since I had spent a day up on the Tees so, after days of dithering over the weather and the number of ships on offer, I finally got around to chucking a flexi on Friday 18 November and headed for the South Gare. The weather forecast had been for sunny intervals with the afternoon being significantly better than the morning and that, in the end, was pretty much how things panned out. There was little of interest on the "accessible" berths on the river, and I photographed the only ship in Hartlepool as it arrived in the morning so, for once, I wasn't distracted by the requirement to head across the river to the Big H. Mind you, I'm not convinced just how much advantage that actually conferred as there were some pretty long periods of total inactivity. But, in the end, it was a pretty successful day with 24 ships on offer, 10 of which were new sightings (11 if you count a small inshore fishing vessel that I hadn't seen before). The early shots were taken in almost complete darkness so they are a little on the grainy side as the lowest ISO setting I was able to get away with was 1600!
My intention for the second day of our trip to Scotland was to drive from Greenock to Ardrossan, taking anything ship or lighthouse related along the way and, hopefully, getting back to Greenock in time for lunch. I was particularly interested in photographing the local ferries, a varied selection of which was covered by my planned route. My plan was to have breakfast in Greenock and then hit the road at around 0900hrs. The weather forecast was dire with heavy rain forecast for the whole day - and when they say "heavy rain" in Scotland they tend to mean "torrential, monsoon-like, deluge". In the event the rain held off until I had turned around in Ardrossan and was heading back for Greenock. But my timings were thrown badly awry by a very late departure from Greenock caused by the fact that a lot of ship related activity was happening just as I was about to get into the car. The final score for the day was 17 new ships (the only repeat sightings being of ships I had seen the previous day) which I think isn't too shabby. One of the advantages of Scotland at this time of year is that, in order to get night shots, you don't need to stay up late - in fact you don't need to bother about doing it at night at all, you can get up at a reasonable hour, have breakfast and still get the shots. I was able to get a few "night" shots of the occupants of the James Watt Dock on the morning we were leaving and I've tacked them on to the end of this collection as they don't merit a page to themselves.
I had been thinking for some time about heading for the Costa Clyde to take some ship photographs. I hadn't been in Scotland for nearly 14 years, so a visit was long overdue, but I was also becoming seriously bored with wandering round the local patch photographing the same old ships time and time again. Finally I managed to summon up sufficient motivation and, on Saturday 22 October me and She Who Must be Obeyed head north for Greenock where we spent two nights in the Premier Inn. Our room on the first floor had a terrific view over the river but, better yet, vessels entering and leaving the James Watt Dock sailed right past the window of the room. The weather forecast, for days before we set off, had been predicting wall to wall heavy rain but, in the event, the weather was a little kinder than that. There was certainly plenty of rain but, on my "big day out" on the Sunday, it managed to hold off until I had got into the car to head back to Greenock. The final score was 48 ships of which, astonishingly, only two were previous sightings. This first gallery includes the photos from Saturday 22 October which was the day we arrived. Despite the limited time available it was also the most successful day in terms of new sightings with 28 new sightings.
My interest in ship photograph predates my Internet activities by a couple of years and, when I established my first website (the one that went down the tubes along with the late lamented Fotopic), I had already amassed a substantial number of ship photographs. I made no systematic attempt to add these to the site retrospectively, concentrating instead on adding collections from my little ship photography expeditions, as they happened. However, I did look back through my photo collection and managed to put together a set of images of those ships, photographed in 2003 and 2004, that had never, subsequently, appeared on my website. These images split relatively equally, in terms of numbers, between 2003 and 2004, and the images from 2003 were duly published on my original site, but the images from 2004 never made it before the site went down for good. So here they are. I selected a single representative image for each ship and there's little in the way of captions other than the name of the ship, the date the photo was taken and the location. I have, however, provided the usual summary of the technical details in the form of a downloadable Rich Text file that you can access if you are interested.the internet. The quality of some of these images is not great as many were taken on my first digital camera, a small Olympus compact with a nice zoom lens, but a sensor that could only manage 2Mp on a good day. The images have been interpolated up, and resized a couple more times than were good for them, but I'm putting them on here out of historical interest if nothing else. I may, at some stage in the future, reprise the 2003 collection but that will depend on space constraints and my level of motivation.
On Sunday 2 October 2011, a visit to our friends in Hartlepool provided the opportunity for a little bit of rust-bucketing on the Tees. For the previous week the country had been in the grip of an unseason, Indian summer heatwave. Needless to say this ground to a shuddering halt the minute we drove the car out of our drive in York and the rest of the day was characterised by leaden grey skies and drizzly rain. Nevertheless there were a few ships around and the final score was 12 new ships, 5 being news sightings, and a handful of inshore fishing boats. Not a bad afternoon's work really.
Well, it seems hard to believe, but I haven't been anywhere near Goole or the Trent since 3 July, that's more than two months. So, on Friday 9 September, I thought that it was really about time to remedy that. There were only eight ships between Goole and Gunness but the weather looked reasonable, work was boring, and lots of World Cup Rugby on TV meant that the weekend wasn't really an option. So off I went with She Who Must be Obeyed in tow, bribed by the prospect of a bar meal at the White Swan in Deighton. In the end, I racked up a total of eight ships, three of which were new to me, and an added bonus was the graveller, Fusedale H, undergoing some kind of repair work in the South Dock in Goole.
A visit to family in Basingstoke gave me the opportunity for a visit to one of the south coast ports. I had hoped to visit Southampton on 16 July when six cruise ships were present. However, we had to reschedule the trip to Basingstoke so that turned out to be impossible. We eventually travelled down there on Friday 29 July and I opted for a visit to Portsmouth on Saturday 30 July. I had been in Portsmouth several times back in the 1980s but had not set foot in the place in the intervening 20 something years so I wasn’t certain what to expect. My original intention was to take one of the harbour tours and hopefully see some Royal Navy vessels before they are all scrapped or sold off at bargain prices to sundry banana republics. I was also keen to visit Southsea to get some pictures of the lighthouse at Southsea Castle. The first objective (the harbour tour) failed, mostly because of poor decision making, but also because of an old knee injury that had returned to haunt me. Nevertheless I did manage to see two navy ships and one of the Serco Denholm tug fleet. There were also a good selection of ferries on offer, both local and international, and a surprising number of inshore fishing vessels that I hadn’t expected to see. The Clipper Round the World yacht race started from Southampton the day after my visit and a few of the competitors also put in an appearance, presumably making their way round from Gosport/Portsmouth ready for the start. The weather forecast for the Saturday had been excellent but you could reasonably be excused for thinking that after 63 years on Planet Earth I would have set little store by that! The weather defied the forecast and remained relentlessly miserable with heavy cloud and drizzly rain, right up until the moment I started up the car to go home, at which point the clouds parted and the sun came out. In compensation though, the numbers stacked up nicely with 24 ships on offer, 18 of which were new sightings. The ships are presented here in the order in which they were sighted but all images of a particular ship are grouped together for convenience – this means that individual images are not necessarily in strict chronological order. Incidentally, I used the visit to Basingstoke to give No 1 Grandson some instruction in the black arts of Photoshop and some of the editing here is his work.
Having not visited the local stamping ground since 6 March I decided that a four month break was quite long enough and that it was time to get off my lazy arse and get myself down there for some fresh air and rust buckets. The weather was glorious all day, and not just in York either, the weather managed to stay marvellous all the way round the circuit. For all that it was a somewhat strange little expedition. Although there were thirteen ships on offer (fourteen counting the former RMAS tender Dunster in Goole Marina), they were very unevenly distributed. In fact, the only two locations that had any ships were Goole and Neap House/Grove. What’s even strange is that eleven of the ships were in Goole and only three on the Trent. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many ships in Goole and five of them were in the West Dock. The final score was four new sightings so I think that merits the term “a result”.
Lunch with friends in Hartlepool provided the usual opportunity to walk Poppy the Ship Photography Dog and get a couple of ship photographs at the same time. The weather was fantastic – clear blue skies and high temperatures (somewhere close to 30ºC). The tide was very low and something odd seemed to have happened to disrupt the flow of water around the sand spit near the power station. Normally it flows down the north side but, on this occasion, it had “flipped” over to the south side and was producing some exceptionally soft sand down near the water’s edge. Poppy found this extremely heavy going as she has very short legs, so we didn’t linger down there. The final score, including Hartlepool Docks, was five new sightings so I was well pleased with the afternoon’s work.
With the exception of a very brief visit to Hartlepool back in April, I hadn't visited the Tees since October 2010 so I thought that a day out on the South Gare was long overdue. Picking a suitable day is always a bit of a lottery where the Tees is concerned as the port isn't tidal and movements listings therefore tend to be a wishlist rather than an accurate prediction of future arrivals and departures. However, I noticed that HMS Hurworth was paying a courtesy visit to Hartlepool and that helped to simplify the decision making process. The weather turned out to be reasonably friendly with some good sunshine in the afternoon and the final score was 17 new sightings - more than enough to justify the expenditure in time and petrol.
On Sunday 3 April 2011 we paid a short visit to Hartlepool for Sunday lunch with friends and, after we had eaten our fill, Shipspotting Dog Poppy demanded to be taken down to the Powerstation Sands to indulge in her favourite hobbies (shipspotting, seagull chasing, swimming and digging holes). Once again, I have little in the way of notes for this little outing but I have labelled the images with the movement information I had for the arrivals and departures and the berth name for those that were alongside. The Rain God must have been taking a long weekend as the weather was particularly kind and, amazingly, there were six new sightings including those at anchor in Tees Bay.
This was my first outing after my original website went down the tubes. I have to say that, following that disaster, I found it a little hard to motivate myself to get out and about and, although I processed all the images and added them to my database, I never did find the inspiration to write any notes. So the photos here are simply labelled with the name of the ship and the location. Still, the weather was excellent and, against the trend of the "collector's curve" there were three new sightings on offer.