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Bored with the dull period between Christmas and New Year I decided that I had better get off my lazy butt and get out there to see if I could find something new for the final new ship sighting of 2013. I wanted to capture something as close to the end of the year as possible, so the only days that were "goers" were either Monday 30 Dec or Tue 31 Dec. The weather forecast for Monday didn't look too good, but that for Tuesday was even worse so, after a bit of my usual dithering, I finally headed for Goole at around 8.00am on Monday. There was nothing at Howdendyke and, surprisingly, nothing at Neap House/Grove so that made for a relatively short circular tour. In the end I managed three new ships, the award for the last new ship of 2013 going to Beaumaiden. Highlight of the day was finally managing to arrange a visit to Goole that coincided with a port call by the latest Tharsis. The weather was generally poor but, for the Goole section of the visit at least, the rain managed to hold it down to a light drizzle. By the time I reached Flixborough things were getting worse and worse and, as I turned for home at Keadby, it started tipping it down. Nine ships and three new sightings - not really too shabby for the home patch although I confess that all the Mediterranean sunshine in September has turned me into a real weather softy!
My last full day visit to the Tees back in March had marked the 10th anniversary of the start of my ship photography obsession. Unfortunately that visit had been marred by weather of the very direst sort - high winds, lashing rain, and dreadful visibility. It had also been singularly unproductive, yielding only five ships in total, only two of which were new sightings. After an absence of slightly more than five months I decided that a return visit was long overdue so, on Friday 16th August 2013, I chucked a flexi day and set off for the South Gare. The weather overnight had been wall to wall heavy rain and it was still raining when I left York. Heading off up the A19 with the car doing a passing fair imitation of a submarine, the omens were not good and I arrived in Redcar with heavy rain still falling. Miraculously it stopped completely as I passed the Steel Works and I pulled into the parking at the South Gare in cloudy but dry weather. The cloud persisted for a while but, by mid-morning, it had cleared from the west, the sun was shining and all was right with the world. Shipping activity was resricted to the morning, though, with no major movements at all after 11.45 when Bore Song arrived. The big Sigma zoom earned its keep in snagging distant stuff in the anchorage although the curse of long range photography came into play and many of these images are marred by heat shimmer. I have broken somewhat with tradition with this collection and, instead of arranging the images in chronological order, I have grouped them loosely by type. First up are ships at their berth, these are followed by heavy metal movements, next up are harbour craft and fishing vessels, and finally there is a circular tour of the anchorage. The numbers stacked up very well indeed with 39 ships in total and 23 new sightings including fishing vessels. In just under three weeks time I will be embarking on Queen Victoria for a cruise to the Adriatic, so watch this space for more from the Med.
Sunday 14 July 2013 saw us in Hartlepool again for lunch with friends and, as usual on these occasions, I took the opportunity for a bit of ship photography. It wasn't the most successful expedition of its kind ever, but the weather was pleasant and the exercise helped walk off a few calories! There was little of interest around Hartlepool Docks - I had expected to find the jack-up rig, Haven Seajack 1 at Irvine's but, in the event, she was down near Seaton Carew. The heat had produced some serious haze over the sea and, although there were quite a few ships in the anchorage, all but two proved to be unreachable, even with my 500mm lens. Despite all this I still managed to rack up eight new sightings, three of which were fishing vessels, so I'm not complaining.
On Sunday 9 June 2013 I decided that some fresh air was in order so, after an early start, I headed for Goole and the Trent. There wasn't a lot around but the ships that were there were well spread between Goole and Gunness. The weather started out overcast and quite chilly but it gradually brightened as the day went on and by the time I reached the Gunness the sun was out and the day was warming up nicely. When I did my homework before I left the house I noticed that Alexander Kuprin was inward on the morning tide for Goole. There was also a remote possibility that Till might show up heading for Flixborough. As it turned out the latter was a non starter - I think she had only just left Szcecin when I hit the road - but I was lucky enough to catch Alexander Kuprin passing Old Goole and to get a few snaps of the Acaster Water Transport tug Little Shuva as she assisted with locking in operations. The final score was ten ships in all, four of which (including Little Shuva) were new sightings, so I was well pleased with that for a relatively short outing on the local patch.
The weekend of the Spring Bank holiday, against the odds, and at long last, provided a couple of days of really pleasant weather. As it happened this brief sunny spell coincided with one of our regular visits to Hartlepool for lunch with friends. So, a visit to the river was definitely on the agenda. Sadly and unusually, there was nothing of interest in Hartlepool Docks so I had to confine my rust-bucketing activities to the postprandial period. Heading down through Seaton Carew I spotted Eagle Torrance outbound passing the South Gare and, when I had eventually managed to find a parking place, I managed to grab a couple of very long range shots of her and also a couple of Kappagas that followed her out. The hike across the golf course to the North Gare was completed just in time to catch Happy Fellow inward for North Tees A Jetty. Other than those three movements, we had a bulker (Taunton) at the Ore Terminal, Aurelia on Simon Storage No 1, and Gas Myth and Tempest on the inside Phillips berths. I also managed one usable shot of the Maersk offshore support twins Tackler and Tracer in the anchorage but stupidity and compulsive fiddling on my part meant that I missed out on usable shots of the other ships in the anchorage as I had reset the autofocus to multi spot which is never a good idea with long range rust-bucket shots. Still, all in all, nine ships with five new sightings wasn't a bad resort for a causal Tees visit.
It suddenly occurred to me that, here we were in the second half of April and, so far, I had only paid one visit to Goole and the Trent this year! In my defence I would cite the fact that I have really been struggling to process and publish the photos from the last cruise, plus the very late onset of winter this year has not exactly been conducive to ship photography. So finally, a blink of sunshine and a ship grounded on the Trent managed to get me off my fat butt and out onto the old stamping ground. The main aim of the day was to photograph Celtic Endeavour which had taken the ground while swinging for her berth at Grove on 15 Apr and had then become neaped. Current thinking is that she will not get off the ground again until 24 Apr when the tide will be high enough to refloat her with some tug assistance. One problem that only occurred to me after I had set off was the fact that I had no idea where she had actually grounded and, with my luck, I expected her to be on some inaccessible stretch of the Trent hidden by a screen of trees, bushes and reeds. In the end though I found her clearly visible from the road just upstream from the Dolphin Berth and positively sitting up and begging to be photographed - even the light was reasonably friendly. It was just as well she was there because there wasn't a lot else on offer, with nothing at Howdendyke, Burton Stather (no surprise there!), Keadby or Gunness and only one ship actually on a berth at Grove. There were three in Goole though, one of which was a new sighting. So, with one ship at Flixborough the total for the day was six. Nice weather, if a little chilly, and great to get out in the fresh air.
A visit to our friends in Hartlepool for Easter Sunday lunch on 31 March 2013 provided an opportunity for some ship photography. And the weather proved to be a very pleasant contrast to my previous two visits to the Tees. There was bright sunshine instead of the fog and driving rain that had been my luck on those occasions. Having said that, the temperature hadn't improved much, the biting wind that had plagued me on 8 March was still blowing and, if anything, it was even stronger and colder. Still, one must be thankful for small mercies where British weather is concerned and I was delighted to scrabble together a total of 19 ships of which a jaw-dropping 12 (counting the long range stuff in the anchorage) were new sightings. Altogether a highly successful visit to an area that rarely rewards short, casual visits.
Some time ago I suddenly came to the realisation that 8 March 2013 was going to represent a significant date in my ship photography "career". Specifically, it marked the 10th anniversary of the day from which I date the start of the entire obsession. My first visit to the South Gare was made on 8th March 2003 and the rest, as they say, is history. Having come to realise the significance of the date it occurred to me that it would be good if I could mark the occasion by another visit to the South Gare. The weather forecast for the Friday of my visit was absolutely dire - in fact it was dire right through the weekend. And, on this occasion, the forecast not only lived up to its expectations, it exceeded them by a very considerable margin. A small hint of what to expect was granted to me as soon as I arrived and had parked the car - I found it nearly impossible to open the door as it was being pinned shut by the wind. Tees VTS was reporting the wind as 30knots straight out of the east and it carried on without once pausing for breath right through the 8 hours or so that I spent there. Not only was it a strong wind, it was an extremely cold one, and it was accompanied, on and off, by driving rain and sleet. Several ships had dragged their anchors that morning and had been instructed to raise anchor and steam away from the ever growing wind farm. Not that the anchorage was actually visible through the murk, I could barely see the opposite side of the river. The operator on the Pilot channel was reporting that it was impossible to drop off or recover pilots outside the river mouth so only masters who had made two inward or outward journeys in the past 12 months were permitted to enter or leave the port. In effect this rendered the day a dead duck in terms of movements. I saw four outward movements (and no inward ones) the whole day, of which three were repeat sightings. However, there were a couple of highlights - the departure of Maersk Recorder was spectacular to the say the least and the waves breaking over the end of the South Gare provided something spectacular for me to watch during the long periods when there were no visible ships. So, the 10th anniversary outing produced only five ships in total, two of which were new sightings. However the original visit 10 years previously only resulted in 4 ships although, of course, all of these were new sightings for obvious reasons. To start proceedings off I've put up one photo of each of the four ships recorded on my first visit to the South Gare, followed by the ships from the rather bleak commemorative visit.
On Sunday 27th January 2013, a visit to our friends in Hartlepool for Sunday lunch presented an opportunity for a little bit of ship photography. To be honest there wasn't much around and things were made somewhat difficult by a stong and bitterly cold wind off the sea coupled with the lingering effects of a bout of sciatica that has been plaguing me since last September. Because of that I decided that trudging across the soft sand at the Power Station really wasnt an option so I opted instead to go the North Gare, a location I haven't visited in ages. Highlight of the day was the wind turbine installation ship, MPI Adventure, berthed at Irvine's Quay in Hartlepool and it was good to see a bulker discharging at the Ore Terminal - something that, for a while last year, looked as though it was destined to be no more than a part of Teeside history. The visit to the North Gare was short but sweet and walking over the rocky and uneven path to get there may not have been a much more comfortable option than the sands. But I got what I went for plus an added bonus of the bunkering tanker Naxos alongside the bulker, and the twin tankers Alfa Britania and Alfa Germania on the Phillips jetties. The final score was 15 ships in total, 10 of which were new sightings (although the majority of those were lying in the anchorage resulting in pretty low quality images). Still, not a bad result for a very brief visit.
On Sunday 6th January 2013, motivated by a desire to see some daylight (something that I hadn't experienced much of since before Christmas), and to get my first ship photograph of the new year, I headed off for Goole and the Trent wharves. Both of my objectives were reasonably well achieved - there was plenty daylight although the sun wasn't particularly enthusiastic, and I managed, easily enough, to get the first ship photographs of 2013. However, there weren't that many ships on offer and only one of them was a new sighting. On the other hand, a welcome bonus was the fact that I was able to catch two ships coming upriver on the tide - RMS Duisburg inward for Grove Wharf on the Trent, and Orateca heading for Carrs Corner in Goole. The final score was ten ships with one new sighting and I was well enough satisfied with that. This gallery includes a new feature for 2013 - I have included, for the first time, a short video clip. I hope to include a few more of these in future.