It’s Engineering Baby!

It’s one of those lovely early summer mornings here at Dookes H.Q., the sun is shining, there’s a gentle breeze and all seems well in the world…until some crazy person messes it up.

Mrs Dookes is out, which means I can play a Jethro Tull album without snarky comments and grumbles; no, she really doesn’t appreciate Prog-Rock!

I’m also studying maps because trip planning time is here, actually that really came long ago, this is more like “Contingency Planning Time.”

This year’s adventure should see Harls and I heading off to the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain in a couple of weeks, we have unfinished business in those mountains.

There is, however, a slight spanner in the works.

We are due to sail from Plymouth to Santander on Brittany Ferries lovely flagship and one of my favourite vessels, the MV Pont Aven. Unfortunately the lovely white lady is currently dry docked in the port of Brest with fairly major problems in her starboard steering gear.

The poor ship has been a bit unlucky this year, back in April she suffered a fire in one of her engine rooms which led to a spell in the shipyard for repairs. Then, only days after her return to service, this fault in her steering system appeared.

One of the problems with modern transportation companies like Brittany Ferries is they operate on very tight margins, meaning that the assets are “sweated.” In plain language, they don’t have spare ships standing around doing nothing and those that they do have are kept earning revenue with minimal downtime. One breakdown can and usually does cause chaos to schedules. It’s difficult for operators to accurately predict when things are going to be back to normal and putting pressure on the engineers to get the job fixed as soon as possible can be counterproductive; better to do it once properly than to need to return through rushing or corner cutting.

Years ago a late friend and I undertook engineering services for a cross-channel ferry company operating out of Portsmouth. One of the jobs that we did was a repair on a vessel’s steering gear which necessitated a visit to dry dock in Southampton. One day I’ll dig out and scan the photo’s of that and maybe do a retro post about it. The job was straightforward enough, but getting all the parts, labour, heavy-lift equipment and inspection agencies together in one place when the dock was available was a logistical nightmare! I share the pain that the BF engineering team are going through.

Brittany Ferries operate a number of routes across the English Channel between the UK and France, plus serving Spain and Ireland. The impact of this breakdown has reached far and wide.

I have read some affected passengers grumbling that the company has not offered them good customer service by way of alternatives or compensation. From a personal point of view I do not agree.

Yesterday, I called into the Brittany Ferries offices in Plymouth to discus options for Harls and I. Basically, in the event of the ship not being back in service by our departure date, I was offered the option of being booked onto an alternative ferry to France, with costs if I have to travel to a different departure port and then provided with onward travel costs to get me to Santander as well as a refund of the difference in fares; or I could have a complete refund if that meant that I was unable to travel.

This I thought was perfectly reasonable and I’m probably going to accept the former, after all it’s no hardship for me to have to ride Harls for an extra two days!!

I did offer my engineering services as well, I was told to pop home and get my spanners; at least the staff haven’t lost their sense of houmour!

In the meantime, I’m really hoping that the MV Pont Aven is repaired as I do love sailing on her and best of all she has a fabulous restaurant.

Catch you soon.

Dookes

7 thoughts on “It’s Engineering Baby!

    • Ha! You have to be of a certain age to “Get” Tull and both you and Mrs D are waaaay to young!😎
      It’s quite nice to be flexible on my travel arrangements, I imagine that if I was stuck for fixed holiday dates with a family in tow that it would be a nightmare.😳

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hah, flattery! 😉 Actually I used to have Aqualung on cassette so I’m not that young. 😂
        That’s one of the things I hated about traveling, but this year for the first time, we’re traveling back to Scotland on our own. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

        Liked by 1 person

      • Isn’t every season haggis hunting season? I didn’t think they hibernated. 🤔
        Going to Skye for a weekend with friends this time as well as the usual stuff. I’m sure they have loads of haggises (haggi?) in the mountains of Skye. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Chase ’em found the mountain anti-clockwise, they fall over that way on account of their left hand legs being longer than on the right!

        Seriously though, Skye is beautiful, I spent many happy days in the mountains there.
        Dookes

        Like

      • I thought every season was haggis hunting season? 🤔 Do they hibernate?
        We’re going to Skye this year for a weekend with friends as well as the usual stuff we do, so I’m sure there will be loads of haggises (haggi?) in the mountains of Skye. 😊

        Like

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