Planes, Boats and Trains

Afon Alaw – a 25m, shadow draught, 34bp tug.

SDC Marine Services was contracted to spend a weekend in Barrow inspecting tugs. This was on behalf of wind farm company conducting on hire surveys on 2 tugs. As always in this industry the plan went to custard at the last minute so I ended up only doing one survey, on a different vessel to one in the initial plan!

Afon Alaw is a tidy workboat. She was one of a fleet of 5 vessels chartered to assist the Maersk Connector – a new cable laying barge which was to be beached off Heysham for a couple of days to run the shore end of the export cable from the new local wind farm.

I completed the inspection on Sunday and remained in Barrow on Monday to oversee the close outs of the findings from the surveys on the other tugs.

On the Monday Barrow Docks was crawling with armed police – there to ensure the security of the PNTL vessels which were arriving that day.

Oceanic Pintail

I don’t know what these vessels were up to but a couple of days later HMS Audacious – the RN’s new Nuclear Sub was paraded out of the big shed in Barrow.

On the Tuesday the busy week continued with a trip to Sassnitz in Germany to conduct a IMCA MISW Inspection on a small passenger vessel. The trip involved a flight to Hamburg then a 5 hour train journey to the coastal resort town of Sassnitz on the Rugen Peninsula.

I was booked to stay in a former Eastern Bloc Seaman’s Hostel, now a hotel, just beside the Bahnhof. The following morning a nice walk in the crisp spring sunshine down to the harbour and to the MS Alexander.

A tourist vessel working from Sassnitz

MS Alexander operates tourist excursions up the coast from Sassnitz with up to 90 passengers. She is a family run boat and maintained in excellent condition. The Captain is called Alexander which is a nice touch!!


I completed the inspection during the first two 1.5 hour trips of the day. I was reluctant to remain onboard for the third trip as they were scattering ashes.

After another night in the hostel and some surprisingly good schnitzel and pilsner I retraced my 5 hour train journey across northern Germany back to Hamburg and the (delayed) Easy Jet flight back to Manchester.

A busy week.

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