Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.
Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.
The following story is from someone who has worked on both of the SAINT CLASS Ships and she has also sent in many great photographs of both ships.
Anni Ruecroft has been a real friend of the website and provided many insights which would perhaps never be seen but now they will be seen on the website and on the Blog.
The following is as told by Anni (Senior Steward)
As a bit of background information, I have lived on the Isle of Wight all my life.
As a result I have grown up with the St Helen and St Catherine always being there.
Sealink, who owned them, became Wightlink in the 1990's privatisation and I joined Wightlink as a steward in 2001.
Infact, St Helen was actually the first ship I worked on.
I am still with Wightlink and a great many of us are very sad to see the Helen go.
Nobody really knows what is planned for the Helen but her retirement is not a surprise to those of us who work on her due to events which occurred back in July.
It did make the news but you might not have seen it.
Late one night in mid July we had just arrived at the island and were unloading our traffic when the most incredible CRASH I have ever heard shook the entire ship.
Her starboard fwd section of mezz deck, loaded with cars and passengers, collapsed and fell to the main deck writing off numerous cars and injuring (non life threatening) several people.
Thankfully the main deck beneath was clear but the decks back was broken and was cut up and scrapped several days later as it was a twisted mess.
Since then she has only been permitted to run flat loaded which restricts her from her intended 142 cars to just 64.
I remember standing aft on her main car deck that fateful night and as the police removed the final car I looked up at the good old St Helen - car deck swarming with police, paramedics, coastguard, MCA etc - and said to the ship "This is the beginning of the end".
As for causes it is still in the hands of the MAIB and probably will be for some time while the experts ponder everything.
As for the Catherine I can report happy news.
The St Catherine left us in 2010 and went into service with an Italian ferry company called Delcomar.
Thanks to social media such as Facebook I am in touch with some of her regular Italian passengers and have received many photos of her in her Italian livery.
It certainly looks as if they have spent a lot of money on her as she looks good as new.
Her name is no longer St Catherine but is now "GB Conte" and she runs from a place called La Madalena although I understand she does alter routes at various times of the year.
The above photograph shows a proud Anni in front of one of her favorite ships ST CATHERINE
The above four photographs are all copyright Anni Ruecroft and shown by kind permission with many more and some great tales still to be shown.
The following Video was compiled by Anni Ruecroft as the ST CATHERINE left the South Coast of England to work in the Med for Delcomar. http://youtu.be/QzS5ScbVDZA
As said previous she operated between the Isle of Wight for nearly 30 years before finally being sold to Delcomar, a ferry company based in Italy, in 2010. She was renamed as the GB Conte and began operating for Delcomar almost immediately and can now be seen plying her trade in what are normally warmer waters around the Coast of Sardinia and who know's with proper maintenance she may well last for another 20 years.
G B Conte (ex-Wightlink ferry St Catherine) being prepared for service with Delcomar at Hythe
Photo: Â© Ian Boyle, 16th July 2010
(The above photograph was first shown on the Simplonpc.co.uk website)
More on the ST CATHERINE as she was prepared by WighLink for transfer to Delcomar as the new ferry GB CONTE. All photographs have been supplied to the website by Anni Ruecroft (senior steward) who worked on the Saint Class ships for many years
The St Catherine is seen above while being prepared for hand over to continue working in the warmer waters of the Med.
Repainted in this photograph although you can still make out her original name of ST CATHERINE
The ex St Catherine leaving the Solent for Italy
ST CATHERINE now the GB Conte sails regular from Palau, on the North of the Island of Sardinia to the Island of Maddalena.
Isola Maddalena is accessible only by boat or ferry.
The closest airport is Olbia, Sardinia. ( Olbia is a 50 minute flight from Rome Fumicino Airport. )
From Olbia Airport, travel north on SS125 near Arzachena take a right on SP123 to Palau. This is about a one hour trip. In Palau take a ferry across to Isola Maddalena. The ferry ride for pedestrians is .50 - 1.20 Euro // for cars 3.50 - 6.00 Euro depending on the size of the car. Ferries run every 15 minutes. The ride is 15 - 20 minutes
ST CATHERINE as the GB CONTE seen here in a photograph from the Delcomar website
The old ferry looks as good as she did when first in service almost 30 years ago which is a further testament to the shipbuilders of Leith and her new owners Delcomar.
Her current port of registry is Cagliari, Italy and she is a huge improvement on the ships that were being used in the region.
Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.