We carried the cases down to the ferry and waited in a long queue watching motorcycles being craned in twos and fours onto the ships deck where they were roped vertically to the decks separated by large mattress-style pads. Each motorcycle had its petrol tank emptied on the dockside "for safety reasons". Pity the riders who arrived at the pier head with full tanks.
We then walked aboard up a steep gangplank and found seating - anywhere, sometimes down below when the weather was bad.
The ferry could take 4 to 5 hours to cross to Douglas. The weather could be very unkind and there were years when we felt that the boat stood on its ends and without stablisers, many passengers were sick. I preferred to walk the deck, if I sat down I felt sick. My Uncle could still find room for a pork pie no matter how much the the boat rolled and bobbed !
We were very pleased to see Douglas Bay appear out of the mist and after the delay while ferry docked and tied up, we were soon on Manx soil (or concrete). Some of us were so pleased to get off the ferry that we fell down on our knees and kissed the ground. Other years it could be a crossing on a mill-pond sea.
When we had retrieved the suitcases from the pursers area we went down the gangplank and set out to find a taxi. We were taken to our hotel, Kennishs Regal and were met by the owner who maqde us welcome. Our caes were put in our rooms and we went down to a slap-up meal. After along day of travelling, it was good to see a bed and we all crashed out.
We would be awakened by an alarm clock right next to the ear and we would be up and dressed and out in the dark to go to the "practice". In those days we walked up from the hotel on the sea front, through the little lanes and found Nobles Park dead ahead. It would getting light and we couls see more people converging on the Paddock area. Everybody seemed to walk in those days and we followed that pattern for about 20 years.
Along the sea front were coach companies vying for trade.
One group would visit the hotels at breakfast time to tell us where they were going that day, Round the Island, Rushen Abbey, Calf of Man and the Mystery Tour. We saw a lot of the Island in this way and it served me well for the days when circumstances changed. My parents sometimes had the use of a car but only for a day or two. So when I started going on my own I looked into car hire and was pleased to see how reasonable it was to hire for a week. However, I hired for practice week, handed it back in and reverted to coaches for race week.
PEWTER MODEL OF FORD 105E
In the 70s when I had family over with me I hired vehicles for the full period we were over. The definition of vehicle ranged from a small minivan to a large van, with Morris Marinas, Ford 105Es, a Mini and a Ford Escort in between. Being two metres tall, there were times when I found I was horribly cramped but still managed to go where we wanted to go. We went to the beach at Sulby one day and found an unexploded target shell which we reported !
It was not until the 80s that I decided to take a car over on the ferry. It was a company car, brand new, and I took the family. We parked outside the hotel (Tom Cringles Min-y-Don) and took the caes up to the room. When I came back down a seagull had bombed my car right in the centre of the bonnet. A lovely new red car and a very naughty seagull. Tom came out with water and cloths but we were too late.......
There was a big "burn" left by the bird droppings and this burn was still there two years after.
TTFAN AND THE NEW CAR THAT WAS BOMBED