A student who was stranded in Heysham over the weekend has said the people on the ground felt worse for those who found themselves stuck on board the Ben-my-Chree.
With the Steam Packet forced to turn back three times this weekend from docking in Heysham, we spoke to Millie Kinnin, who was supposed to get back to the island on Saturday evening but will instead make it home tonight.
Millie, who is studying Urban Planning, Design and Management at University College London, had traveled up to Heysham on Saturday for the 2.15pm sailing only to find it cancelled and herself staying overnight at the Lancashire port.
She said: ‘I got to the port and they said it was going to be delayed. No one thought much of it because the was no high winds, just a lot of fog and with my limited knowledge of boats, I thought the fog wouldn’t do much harm.’
As the afternoon passed by, there was still no sign of the Ben-my-Chree entering Heysham and it was then that staff had to inform the passengers that the boat was turning around and heading back to Douglas, something that would happen a further two times over the weekend.
A Pub in Heysham
While some people went to Lancaster, Millie decided to sit tight in Heysham and hope the 2.15am sailing would make it into the harbour. So, having walked to the nearest pub for some food, went back to the ferry terminal.
Millie said: ‘Some people got hotels but I just thought I don’t mind staying here for a bit. I stayed overnight at the terminal on Saturday night, hoping to get the 2.15am morning boat but then that was cancelled. So I stayed waiting for the 2pm afternoon boat before I decided to go get a hotel and try again on another sailing.’
Having been in a hotel since Sunday, Millie, who was travelling by herself but said she got talking to her fellow passengers, said the Steam Packet staff at Heysham have been helpful throughout the cancellations, providing passengers with lists of hotels, taxi firms and take aways that would deliver. They also kept the ferry terminal in Heysham open so people could stay for as long as they needed, looked after people’s bags and dimmed the lights at night so people who wanted to get some sleep did.
Millie said: ‘Whenever we went to check-in again, they were quite open about there not being much hope of the sailing going.’
Despite the terrible time many passengers had, Millie said that of the people she spoke to, many were actually feeling sorrier for those on-board, particularly those who had made at least two return trips to Heysham without being able to dock.
Back on Home Soil
Hopefully by the time she gets to read this, Millie will be back on the island, however she did say she is only here for a short trip over Christmas and had already missed out on seeing some friends due to the cancelled boats. However, now she is home, we hope Millie and all of her friends and family have a great Christmas and that her trip back to London is far less eventful than the one that she took here.