Well, as usual I had my ferry booked early and was pleased to get the days and times I wanted. This does not say that these are definite, there are years I have either had them changed or changed them myself because of unusual occurances. However I will be doing two weeks on the Island again this year come what may !
I like to go over from Liverpool, which is only 215 miles from home in Berkshire. I arrive early, mainly to get into the mood, meet people from all over Europe, the first-timers and the many-timers.There are a number of vans containing bikes belonging to competitors. I meet old friends and it is though we had only seen each other yesterday even though it is fifty weeks since we had our last Okells Ale in the Grandstand beer tent.
We get our boarding passes and then it is the wait until we get the go ahead to drive down the ramp, along the floating dock and up the ramp onto the ferry.
Once aboard, I make sure I have what I need for during the crossing, lock the vehicle and go to the upper deck to watch the rest of the crowd come aboard. The vessel sinks deeper into the Mersey as the last of the group fill the huge hold.
The Hooter goes and the crew cast off and we set off towards the sea past Seacombe, New Brighton, Fort Perch and then out of the mouth of The Mersey.
The bar opens as does the food source so a typical Manx breakfast is ordered and eaten with a glass of beer !! Once this in inside me, I make for the inside upper deck where I find a seat or go up into the first class if I have been fortunate in getting an upgrade.
There is constant noise of talking and laughter as the captain opens the throttles and we really skim from wave to wave. I meet people who were on this same boat last year or the year before and we chat. The TT Programme is on sale on board so we eagerly open the plastic wrapping to find useful items for while we are on the Island.
As Liverpool and England, and Wales, disappear behind us we begin to look for the Isle of Man which looms out of the haze and we pick out Ramsey, Laxey and the North of the Island. We have past huge oil rigs and various freighters on our way across and we wave to an almost empty ferry returning to Liverpool for another batch of fans.
The bar closes so we know we must be close to docking. There is Douglas Bay gleaming in the sunshine and we can see St Ninians church which is at the top of Bray Hill, and the grandstand tower which is dedicated to the late commentator Peter Kneale and is known as Kneales Tower. And there is Snaefell and just below it the white dot which is Kates Cottage.
HOW IT USED TO BE - FANS ARRIVING - IN 2D AND IN 3D (pb TTFAN3D)
The hooter goes again and the ferry slips easily into the harbour.
There is a delay while all ropes are tied and then we are allowed back into the vehicle deck to collect our cars and vans and motorcycles. There is a thundering noise as the doors open and we all disembark out onto the ramp up to the proms.
My first decision is to drive the full length of the prom to assess the number of bikes and cars already over. If it is not too late I do a complete lap of the course and then go to my residence for the two weeks down near Kirk Braddan.
A SUNDAY EVENING IN MAY 2010
MANANNAN IS IN SIGHT OF THE HARBOUR
ENTERING HARBOUR MOUTH
STARTING TO TURN ROUND
TURNING ROUND (A)
TURNING ROUND (B)
REVERSING INTO POSITION (A)
REVERSING INTO POSITION (B)
REVERSING INTO POSITION (C)
WASH FROM VESSEL
DOCKING AND TIE-ING UP
VEHICLES NOW DISEMBARK
WE DRIVE ONTO DOUGLAS PROMENADE
WE ARE ON THE ISLE OF MAN
PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT WEBCAMS