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On Thursday 11th December 2014, family business took me to Hartlepool to visit our friends and also provided the opportunity for some ship photography. By 11.15, I was out at the Headland hoping to get some photos of ships in the anchorage. However, that particular aim was forestalled by the fact that I was extremely surprised to see a coaster very close inshore and heading west along the coast. The ship was clearly named Anita but later research turned up nothing for her on the Teesport website. MarineTraffic.com, however, indicated that she was on passage from Terneuzen to Seaham Harbour. It was nice to get a couple of well lit shots of a ship that was within reach of my standard zoom for a change, especially from the Headland. After that it turned out that only one other ship in the anchorage was in range and she was some six miles off the South Gare. Hartlepool Docks yielded a couple of ships and I then headed off to the other side of the river where a couple more were on offer. The South Gare itself, however, yielded very little and as the weather was just about the coldest I had experienced in what is, at the best of times, a very cold location, I headed for Redcar for fish and chips and a cup of tea to thaw me out. While there I was finally able to pick up some stuff in the anchorage and the final score for the day turned out to be 16 ships of which 9 were new sightings – not too shabby for a short visit.
It seemed like an age since I had made a tour of the local patch and inspection of my records revealed that it was, in fact, over nine months. So, I considered that a visit was long overdue and, on Sunday 9th November 2014, fine weather and the prospect of a ship count reaching double figures, finally tempted me out of my computer chair and down to Goole and the Trent. The double figures in fact depended on two “on passage” ships arriving as advertised, but they proved reliable on this occasion and the final total was 12 ships (including the barge Hiddekel), three of which were new sightings. The weather remained fine and sunny throughout the trip although light levels were low to begin with and there was a bit of patchy mist hanging around the river that made photographic life somewhat difficult at times. Highlights of the day were catching RMS Cuxhaven locking in at Goole and moving on to the Steel Terminal berth, and the barge Hiddekel berthed at the wharf immediately above Keadby Bridge – a berth at which I have never previously seen a vessel. All in all not a bad four hour’s work.
This is quite a short gallery recording another visit to our friends in Hartlelpool that allowed me to combine an excellent lunch with a little bit of ship photography. First stop as usual was the Headland to record the distant stuff in the anchorage, the odd fishing vessel, and the geared, general cargo vessel Clipper Kisashio discharging at Irvine’s Quay. After lunch we headed off down to the South Gare where there were a few ships on the Phillips berths, the Ore Terminal and way upriver on Tees Dock No 8 Berth. There was also one outward movement – the suction dredger UKD Marlin heading off for Immingham after some repair work at A&P Tees. The weather was beautiful, bright warm sunshine, and a light breeze and the final score was good for a short, opportunistic visit to the Tees – 20 ship, of which 10 were new sightings. I’m afraid that, due to a combination of rapidly advancing senility, total stupidity and general inefficiency, I manage to avoid recording quite a lot of relevant movement information for this visit, but I have put down what I’ve got and will try to do better next time!
On Sunday 18 May 2014, we headed off for Hartlepool on our regular monthly visit to our friends for Sunday lunch. As usual this involved a bit of pre- and post-prandial ship photography. Hartlepool Docks had only one ship on offer, the Dutch general cargo vessel, Deo Volente. Some additional interest was provided by the wind farm support vessel, Endurance, entering harbour from the Redcar Wind Farm. After lunch, as usual, we headed for the North Gare where the offerings were the bulker Cape Valencia at the Ore Terminal and the chemical tankers Seahake (Simon Storage No 1), Joan (Phillips No 8 Jetty), and Lady Hilde (Phillips No 6 Jetty). But the real bonus was that, for the first time in ages, there was an inward movement on offer in the shape of the Gibraltar flagged chemical tanker, Aurora, inward from Immingham for Vopak No 2 Jetty. The remaining action was all in the anchorage and what a disaster that turned out to be – it is strongly recommended that viewers of a nervous disposition or refined aesthetic sensibilities, stop looking after Image #18 as image quality spirals downward catastrophically at that point. The problem arose form a photographically lethal combination of a light bluish haze over the water and quite the worst heat shimmer that I can recall seeing outside the Mediterranean. Mind you, I suppose I would have moaned even more if it had been raining or foggy. No names were legible and all identifications were made from the PD Ports listing of ships at anchor. So, notwithstanding the crappy images, the total for the day was 18 ships of which a very satisfactory 11 (counting smudgy things in the anchorage) were new sightings.
So, once again, feelings of profound guilt and a desire to see some real daylight and breathe some fresh air finally forced me off my fat arse and out of my armchair. Easter Bank Holiday Monday isn't always a particularly auspicious day for shipping around the local patch but, on this occasion, the numbers held up through Sunday night and, early Monday morning there were still eleven ships in total spread between Goole and Gunness so I opted for a very early start and managed to get myself out of the house just after 6.00am. There was nothing at Howdendyke but, by the time I got down there, I couldn't remember clearly whether that was the case or not so I diverted to Hook just to check and discovered that, yes, there was nothing there. So, onwards to Goole where there were five ships in total. After that stops were required at Flixborough (x 2), Gunness (x 2), and Grove (x 2). On the way back to Goole, I realised that I ought to be just in time to catch Orateca locking out so I diverted to Old Goole where she appeared right on cue giving me a couple of reasonable shots of her turning away from the lock and heading off downriver. So the total score for the day, when barges and sundry other local craft were factored in, was 14 ships, of which only one was a new sighting. Nevertheless that was a good total for the local area, the weather was kind, and the fresh air was extremely therapeutic.
On Sunday 23rd March 2014, we visited our friends in Hartlepool for Sunday lunch - the spin off benefit being a little bit of light ship photography. I seem to be becoming very lethargic these days as this was only my third outing of the year, two of which have been to Hartlepool. Memo to self - get off your fat arse and get out more often! The weather, for once, was absolutely superb with barely a cloud in the sky... you can probably sense a but or two coming here! But (1) there was a very high and very cold wind and (2) there was an apparent shortage of ships. There was nothing I could do about the "weather but" except just roll with the punches and throw on more layers. However, somehow, I managed to overcome the second but to some extent - the problem arose from a combination of circumstances; specifically there was only one ship in Hartlepool Docks (Wilson Rough) and that one I had seen before; and there were only two movements during my visit, one a small inshore fishing vessel inward for Hartlepool, and the other the boxboat Marus arriving from Rotterdam. Fortunately though the anchorage had a very reasonable number of residents and there was a bulker at the Ore Terminal and four ships on other berths that were within range of my long lens. The final score for the day was 19 ships, a high proportion of which (12) were new to me. So, despite the obstacles to productivity, things worked out extremely well in the end.
After some modest success at Hartlepool on 16 Feb, I decided that a visit to the local patch might be in order and I was considerably encouraged by the fact that, during the afternoon of Sat 22 Feb, the population between Howdendyke and Gunness peaked at 14 ships. Of course, as is usually the way on weekends, inward movements failed to replace the losses occasioned by outward movements and, overnight, there was a net loss of six ships leaving just eight in the system. I had hopes that two planned movements for the morning of Sun 23 Feb might boost the numbers back up into double figures but a very early start put paid to that particular aspiration. In the event, I decided to go anyway and get some fresh air if nothing else; the weather turned out to be friendly – some light cloud but no rain – and, counting barges and other stuff, the numbers worked out at a total of 11 ships and one new sighting, so I was reasonably pleased.
I think this is the longest period in nearly 11 years that I have waited before getting the first new ship of the New Year. So, better late than never, the 16th February saw us in Hartlepool for Sunday lunch with friends and, as a spin off benefit, I was finally able to trap the elusive first ship of the year. And, as it turned out, it was well worth waiting for. Despite the fact that almost 200 of the type were built, ships of the Volgo-Balt class are about as rare as rocking horse droppings around the UK so I was pleased to find Volgo-Balt 200M berthed at Irvine’s Quay – this was a double first in that, as well as being my first new ship of 2014, she was also my first sighting of a member of this class. As is traditional, we took a post-prandial hike out to the North Gare to see what else was on offer and, unfortunately, the answer was “not very much”; at least in terms of movements. There were, however, three ships on berths that were visible and within reach of my 500mm zoom, one on the Ore Terminal and two on the Phillips Jetties. So, in the absence of movements, the main action of the day was out in the anchorage which explains the large number of low-res, long-range images in this small gallery. Still, leaving aside issues of image quality, the score for the day was not at all unreasonable with 16 ships in total, 7 of which were new sightings and I’m well pleased with that.