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The End of an Era for Emeraude on May 19th 2006

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On May 19th 2006, it was announced that Emeraude Ferries is making its staff redundant and the Jersey Evening Post wrote that Emeraude will not sail again between St. Malo and Jersey. Next year would have seen the 30th year Emeraude had sailed.  The company actually started off business in 1904 as "Bateaux de la Cote D' Emeraude", offering voyages around the Emerald Coast of Brittany.  Thus in 2004, they  celebrated 100 years of service in local waters.  It is very sad but however, after six months of speculation as to when Emeraude would sail again, perhaps Channel Islands travel can now go forward.      

                               

Solidor 5

We will all miss the many staff and crew members who we have known for many years. No more cheery, efficient Philipe the purser and his showmanship which we all so loved, when organising things such as the pre-Christmas on board tombola. It is a sad good-bye to the other crew members who who had been familiar faces on the Emeraude boats for so long.

 

 

Remember the vessels?     

  

I cannot recall the boat before Solidor 2 - was there one?  Where there other boats not mentioned here?  However ........           

                                                  

The Solidor 2, if I remember correctly, took two and half to three hours to transport passengers to France. Philippe, who has been purser on the Solidors 3, 4 and 5, ran the restaurant where passengers could pass the journey dining  French style, having dinner, lunch or even breakfast depending on the time of day. The restaurant was smart with "silver service" and the bar had maroon, velour  seating.  There was also a huge walk around duty free shop.  The good old Solidor 2 sailed in quite bad weather, as it was solidly built, and had the advantage of being able to take big freight vehicles.  Remember the rough days when passengers slid around the lounge on some of the seats which were not fixed in place!  Do you also remember the Channel Islanders, who did not want to spend money in the restaurant, bringing picnics on board on the Friday night sailing, all of them jolly as they were off to their second homes or going on holiday. I am told the ship is in South America now.

 

 

Solidor 2 - picture above courtesy of Emeraude and  http://www.ferryphotos.co.uk/  - where you can also see pictures of the Tridents which ran between the islands and France with passengers only.

 

 

The Solidor 3 -  Remember the crew sitting in a curtained area with a table and chairs and having what appeared to be a delicious evening meal on their way back to St Malo in the evening?  I am sure there are other memories. The Solidor 3 was joined by the Solidor 4 and at one stage there were two ships on the route.  So many happy memories though such as the "Vieux Retraitées " (Pensioners  .. but I may have mis-spelt this!) who were en route to a Jersey day out, being told to be a bit quieter and calm down.  They were all singing "Chants des Marins" and this was a very "tongue in cheek" reproach!

 

 

 

The Solidor 4,  formerly the Elba Express, had a very high super structure which caused it to rock around a bit - to say the least - when in the Channel as opposed to sailing in Mediterranean waters from Corsica. The journey on Solidor 4 also took half an hour longer than the Solidor 3 or 5.  However in summer days and in calm weather, it was pleasant sitting upstairs in the area by the bar with a door to the upper deck.  It was rather like being on a luxury yacht with the pale blue leather seats and panoramic windows.  I do however remember the rougher weather and the occasion when a friend, who had crewed on racing yachts in all sorts of conditions returned to Jersey and had to take the day off work due to extreme "mal de mer".  Some people described rough weather travel on this vessel as akin to sitting in a washing machine tub.  There are happy memories of the time when the "Commercants" from Dinard travelled to Jersey just before Christmas, bringing with them an accordionist and song sheets and sang in unison throughout the duration of the trip over and back again in the evening.  The Dolphins seemed to particularly love following this boat.  Solidor 4 went away off the route, was renamed "Aline" and painted in Sénégal  colours  but other research seems to come up with Solidor 4 now being called HSC Pitiusa Nova and sailing between Ibiza and Formentera. 

 

The Solidor 5 was the last boat to run on the Jersey St Malo route.  Although built newly for Emeraude the vessel  unfortunately suffered from a wealth of technical problems and eventually was taken off the route for some months and replaced by the Solidor 4 for some periods of time.  Who will ever forget the winter when just Solidor 4 ran!!!!  Solidor 5 is now, I believe, called HSC Don Francesco.  There was a magnificent picture of Victor Hugo, with a quill pen painted on the side of the vessel.  What a shame if that has gone but perhaps it now has.  I do remember travelling in very rough weather when the ship took a wave in a bad way and when the first class passengers were evacuated from the first class lounge - soaking wet!!  The fridges in the cafeteria area flew open and every bottle crashed to the floor and one of the hostesses asked if she could sit with my late husband and myself.  However most sailings were not like that at all and there were many happy trips and it was sad to say good-bye to the boat.

 

 

 

Solidor 5
Philipe
Happy Crew members
Solidor 2 - courtesy of www.ferryphotos.co.uk
Solidor 3

 

 

The Great Britain was leased to Emeraude by Hover Speed whilst problems with Solidor 5 where being sorted. Apart from the regular Emeraude crew, we saw some new English faces who were there as part of the arrangement with Hover Speed.  Sogestran, who took over Emeraude, eventually brought Solidor 5 back on the route until November 2005 when all went wrong and sailings were suspended.

 

Well it is "Au Revoir" Emeraude.  Thank you to your staff - administration in France and Jersey and crew on the boat - and we hope the future is good for these lovely people.  I, and I know many other passengers, have fond memories and great respect for you all.