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|CANADA, SUMMER 2006
Part Two continued: C.T.M.A. Voyageur
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|Top: Arrival at Cap-aux-Meules with the rest of the fleet waiting for us in port.|
|As we pulled into Cap-aux-Meules the other pair of ships in the current C.T.M.A. ferry fleet were lying at their berths: the C.T.M.A. Voyageur and C.T.M.A. Vacancier. For now however, we were happy to make for our hotel and then to dinner where the delights of seal were on the menu. This was all superb and set us up for a late night stroll down to the quayside to observe the ships in the darkness – in fact we were able to walk on board the C.T.M.A. Vacancier for an impromptu look around, but we shall return to her later…|
|Above & below: Two views of the ship's open upper freight deck.|
|Above: The CTMA Voyageur at her berth.|
|The following morning we were up early and as we headed down to the port we saw the Madeleine departing for Souris in bright sunshine. Our immediate target however was the little freighter C.T.M.A. Voyageur. Completed at the Trosvik Verksted yard in Brevik, Norway in 1972, the ship was the fourth of a quartet of ships ordered by Stena Line in the late 1960s and a number of further non-Stena sisters/half sisters were produced at a variety of Norwegian yards. Before being completed however, Stena sold the ship to British Rail/Sealink for whom she entered service as Anderida (so called after the Saxon name for what would later become Pevensey Castle in Sussex). Completed with railway lines on her main vehicle deck she was deployed on the English Channel routes from Dover, principally the train ferry run to Dunkerque. She latterly also saw service on all Sealink’s Irish Sea routes. Sealink had no further use for the ship, (or sisters Dalriada and Ulidia) by the early 1980s and she was disposed of to Greek owners becoming the Truck Trader in 1981 before heading to New Zealand as the Sealink in 1984, being registered in that country in 1985. A return to Greece followed the subsequent year (under the name Mirela) before the ship finally settled down with her sale to C.T.M.A. in 1987.
Today the C.T.M.A. Voyageur is used mainly in the Winter when the ‘Vacancier’ is laid up. She runs a similar route, catering for freight only, but no longer follows the St Lawrence all the way to Montreal, services terminating at Matane on the Gaspé peninsular instead. We were welcomed on board the ship as she lay by in Cap-aux-Meules by the ship’s master. Although showing some signs of wear and tear she is in generally good condition considering her role and age. Sadly there is apparently now a rather large question mark about her future as her operations are tightly regulated by the Canadian authorities who clearly view this old ship with a degree of suspicion; it is presumably not worthwhile for her owners to invest in life-extending work on her, and there are no signs of any of the safety modifications many of her contemporaries have received: she remains proudly devoid of sponsons, duck tails or subdividing doors on her vehicle deck. The ship no longer carries passengers in regular service, although when the Madeleine had returned late from refit a few weeks before our visit, she had filled in with her nominal capacity for twelve drivers, the ‘Vacancier’ also making a few trips to Souris to help out.
|Above: It seemed appropriate to at least attempt to reproduce Lord Greenway's iconic image of one of the ship's funnels which graced the cover of Brian Haresnape's This is Sealink . At some stage the ship has received small additional vents to aid in the dispersal of fumes.|
|Onboard, she retains a simple layout with an upper vehicle deck, partially enclosed by the superstructure which wraps around the forward end and consists largely of crew and passenger cabins. At the forward end of the lower level can be found a compact eating area with windows overlooking the bow and, adjacent to starboard, a small lounge with bar, five comfy sofas and a couple of tables with chairs. Down below, the main vehicle/train deck is unchanged, seeming incredibly tiny to modern observers. The rail lines are still clearly visible where a simple arrangement of two tracks runs all the way through from the stern to just before the bow door where these were once met by a pair of retractable buffer stops (one either side); the remains of these can be found, the hinge still in place, but the wooden buffer itself cut back to its furthest extent.
It seems difficult at this stage to tell quite what the future holds for the C.T.M.A. Voyageur: her owners presumably would like to keep running her for as long as they are able. The authorities though, presumably now even more cautious after the loss of the Queen of the North, might intervene to ensure she leaves Canada before her time. There can be no doubt that this ship, and others in this series of little freighters, played a big part in establishing the modern-day freight scene in many countries around the world. Their success is represented by the fact that so often now they are felt to be too small; hopefully though the Anderida can hang on for a few more years yet.
|Above: Looking forward on the main freight deck with the parallel railway lines still very evident.|
|Above & below: More reminders of the ship's career as a train ferry:
Above One of the cut-back retractable buffer stops at the forward end of the train/freight deck.
Below A warning notice in one of the stairwells.
|Above & below: Two views of the main lounge area forward with settings for lunch.|
|Above: The adjacent bar area on the starboard side.|
|Above & below: A two-berth passenger cabin (above) and one of the senior officers' cabins (below).|
|Above & below: The forecastle, complete with builder's plate.|
|Above & below: The 'Voyageur's bridge and (below) the view from the starboard bridge wing.|