Robert Stanley on ‘Ferries Near and Far’ – Report + Video

The ferries plying between Loch Ryan and Belfast/Larne occupied the central part of Robert Stanley’s CRSC presentation

The speaker at our pre-Christmas meeting at the Maldron Hotel in Glasgow on Wednesday 13 December was Club member Robert Stanley. A native of Northern Ireland, Robert immediately set out his objectives for the evening, beginning with comment on his formative years and his early interest in ships and the sea.

Andrew Anderson gives us an insight into the evening, and lower down the page you can watch a video of Robert’s presentation.

Youthful determination: Robert’s first contact with Stena

In 1996, at the age of five, Robert Stanley featured in a Belfast newspaper article about the involvement of ferry operator Stena in a travel exhibition, writes Andrew Anderson. Members of the public were challenged to have a shot at a simulator, where they could test their skills at manoeuvring one of the fleet into berth at Belfast harbour.

Robert proved so adept at such ship handling that he obviously had to make a career out of it.

The North Channel between Northern Ireland and mainland UK was to feature prominently in his presentation, reflecting the fact that Robert has spent a lot of time on a variety of vessels from Belfast or Larne to Stranraer and Troon — as both a passenger and subsequently professional seafarer.

Professional experience on board Stena Caledonia

HSS Stena Voyager and Explorer, with their capacity for 1,500 passengers, were described in detail, and compared to subsequent ferries that crossed the  channel.

All manner of vessels were highlighted, some notable for their sheer size, others for their sea-keeping characteristics, from the 40-knot Stena HSS to Jetliner cats and monohulls. The Jetliner was given a special mention for delivering returning football fans from a match in Glasgow, their faces apparently “turning a similar shade of green to their team’s strip.”

Robert touched on other sea routes — notably his spell as a new cadet with P&O on Pride of Bilbao, which ran from Portsmouth to Bilbao across the Bay of Biscay.

Stena ferries at Loch Ryan Port: Robert’s drone photography proved to be one of the evening’s highlights

Here he experienced a Force 12 cyclone (Cynthia). Intending passengers had been alerted that they might consider not boarding, due to the state of the sea. Robert had no such choice.

His time at sea allowed him, and his camera, access to all parts of his ships: we were treated to onboard images of areas many of us have never witnessed — an eye-opener indeed. It became clear during his presentation that Robert is an extremely skilled and dedicated photographer. “I have over a thousand photos of various ships passing Ailsa Craig alone,” he admitted.

Ferries apart, drone-captured images of Waverley on her 2023 visit to Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough, close to our speaker’s birthplace, were memorable. All in all, Robert’s first talk to the Club gave us a highly enjoyable evening.

His presentation was not only superbly illustrated, allowing his high-calibre pictures to tell a story, but he also spoke without notes, giving his delivery a fluent, spontaneous quality.

CRSC president Robin Copland delivered a hearty vote of thanks and Robert received a well deserved round of applause.

When you start the video, please remember to click the box on the lower right-hand side to get the full screen version.

Thanks to David Cherry, and Robert and John Newth for technical support.

If you have not yet renewed your CRSC subscription for 2023-24, do so here: your time is running out!

Published on 20 December 2023