Panama Canal is very narrow

Panama Canal is very narrow

If you are really bored, Google in ‘shipping in the channel’. On the screen when you scroll down through the inevitable adverts is all about every ship in the English Channel.  There might be a lockdown, but shipping is still moving, albeit not so much. When you have satisfied this curiosity, you can then scroll further afield, say into the North Sea, or along the French coast into Holland, Germany, and anywhere you want to go.

Shipping in the English Channel

Shipping in the English Channel

But this article will initially concentrate on the shipping in the English Channel. There is a one direction rule, if you are sailing from right to left, or to be technical east to west, you must be close to the English coast. So it follows that if you are going the other way, the French side. But they are so close to each other, let alone when they are turning against the flow.

Commodore Clipper

Commodore Clipper

An example is the Commodore Clipper, a ro/ro car ferry from Portsmouth to St. Helier, Jersey. It has to break through the shipping, but does it slow down? Of course not, it’s doing 18.9 knots, which is pretty fast, and will still take 8 ½ hours journey time.

Cargo vessels are in green, tankers red, and passengers including cruise ships blue. High speed craft are in yellow. The Marella Explorer cruise ship is at sea, ‘awaiting orders,’ which is a euphemism for not really going anywhere. As I write this late Tuesday morning it left Southampton on 24th April, is travelling westwards at 4.8 knots, and is off Weymouth. I hope that the captain of the warship Westminster is paying attention, because it looks as if they are both going down soon on their collision course.

Marella Explorer

Marella Explorer

The Marella Discovery is about 5 miles behind its sister ship, so I suspect it is cheaper to keep cruise ships at sea with a very small crew than paying a lot in port fees.

Arcadia

Arcadia

The P&O cruise liner Arcadia seems to be going round in circles, because it hasn’t gone anywhere for the past ten days. It’s not moored, the depth is too great for anchors, but although it is under way, I keep looking and it’s still in the same area, not that far from Torbay.

The Dover to Calais ferries are still operating, albeit with fewer sailings, but you can track each one. The blue symbols usually show them in port, as the crossing takes about 75 minutes for the larger ferries. Press the refresh button any time for an update of shipping location. The oil tankers and container ships are interesting, because I didn’t fully appreciate just how much shipping of this nature went through the English Channel. All the time, day and night, they are mainly going to main European ports.

Then I scrolled down. Past the Bay of Biscay which still has a fair amount of vessels, but no cruise liners at all, past northern Spain, Portugal, the Straits of Gibraltar, to the Canaries. That was very revealing.

Mein Schiff its huge

Mein Schiff its huge

The large Tui cruiser Mein Schiff is ‘drifting’. This 2019 built vessel must be haemorrhaging  money for the owners, if it was in port then the daily fees would be even more horrendous, so they are losing less money this way. Enough of this area, I then scrolled through to the Mediterranean Sea. It doesn’t seem to me as if it is that busy, the Adriatic has quite a lot, but going down to the Suez Canal then suddenly there is a concentration, but no blue for passenger ships, down to the Straits of Hormuz, with all those oil tankers, it’s a wonder to me that they don’t run into each other, so many red symbols.

I have never been to Australia, am quite aware of the topography, so wanted to have a little look at the Bass Strait, that connects mainland to Tasmania. I am sure that there’s nothing wrong, but with twelve ships at sea, two appear to be mating, one has a suicidal course head on to two others, and with all that sea to choose from, their captains judgment is questionable at best.

Bass Strait

Bass Strait

Oh, is that where New Zealand is. I thought it was closer than that, how interesting. In the Tasman Seas there are six fishing vessels, four unspecified, one tanker, and one tug. No idea what the tug is there for, so far out at sea. Looking at Hawaii, the cruise liner Pacific Princess is almost at Honolulu, having taken 13 days from Los Angeles. She is underway at 5 knots, but am not too sure if any passengers are on board. Highly unlikely. The Panama Canal is jammed solid, no room for anything more, just as well no passenger ships are out and about.

To return to my original point, the seas are so busy, in the past 24 hour period 196,000 vessel movements have been recorded. Of course, the world is a small place, made all the more interesting by being access with a web site such as this one. But I can’t keep on returning to it, I would never get anything else done.