Andy Mahon: Cammell Laird – and the mystery visit of damaged new superyacht, Solandge


Cammell Lairds has moved from SOS [Sound of Soay & Seil] to SOS [Super Ostentatious Solandge].

Since the departure of Western Ferries’ Sound of Seil & Soay on the 30th November2013, Cammell Lairds have been kept busy with various  vessels coming and going.

solange in Cammell Laird wet dock

But one in particular aroused the  imagination and curiosity of the ship spotting community -MY Solange, a super yacht, built by the German Yard Lurssen Rendsburg, and launched only in June 2013.

Solandge left Rendsburg  on the 7th of November, heading for Stavanger in Norway,  But  on the  12th of November, she  arrived  not in Norway, but Douglas IOM.

Immediately, questions about the ostentatious new arrival  were being asked. Who are the owners?  A search of the internet would not reveal any details, other than the owners’ representative, Masters  Yachts’ and that she is available on charter.

Why is she here in the IOM?  Rumours initially had it that she has called in to re register to the IOM from her current  registry of George Town, Cayman Island , but this would prove incorrect a little later.

Solandge was quickly becoming a bit of an enigma.

solange at CL night

After a five day visit to the Island, Solandge, left at midnight 16th November.

One hour after departure, her AIS (automatic Identification System) was switched off,  with her next stop supposed to be the  Caribbean?


At 07:00 on the morning of the 17th November, Solandge [still with AIS off] arrived at the Mersey Bar and waited to take a pilot for an inbound journey up the Mersey. But where was she heading?

The answer would quickly follow: Cammell Lairds No 5 dry dock.

But why was she coming here?

A small group of ship spotters gathered at Monks Ferry for the arrival of the Mysterious Super Yacht Solandge but  as she neared her destination of No 5 dry dock,  fog descended, as if by divine intervention. Who does owns this yacht?

As luck would have it, the fog thinned enough to allow a few shots of her entering No 5 dry dock.

Later in the day, a trip to the Birkenhead Priory which has St Mary’s Tower, a good vantage point to see into Lairds No 5 would  prove profitable, enabling  many photos of the  yacht and her opulent  furnishing – but the dock had still not been drained down.

solange night close up

Later that evening, knowing that the priory and  tower would be closed and not be available to view into the dock, a little sideways thinking  was employed, resulting in an alternative  method of viewing  the yacht taking the blocks.

A ladder was placed up against a boundary wall outside the priory on a public road and on the top rung of the ladder was fitted a Cullmann Hide Clamp [used by bird watchers] with a camera attached to enable night photography.

solange night wide

After Several days, one of the ship spotters took a photo of her starboard propeller, which had been removed, with work around her stern in evidence.

solange dawn leaving

Solandge, would remain in dry dock for  14 days before departing on the  30th November, once again without AIS, destination unknown.

soange passing liver birds

On the 16th December, Solandge showed up on AIS as  currently in port – at St Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Missing the Mersey already…NOT !

Andy Mahon, Das Boot Photography

Andy Mahon is one of the MMMs – Mersey Mad Men – photographers specialising in shipping in the Mersey. As is obvious in this article, there is not much the MMMs will not do to get shots of the ships that ply the Mersey, trading, working, visiting and going in and out of the shipbuilding and repair yard at Cammell Laird.

Earlier this year, Andy sent us a series of superb photographs and information on the last weeks of Western Ferries’ two new vehicle and passenger ferries at Cammell Laird, commissioned by the Dunoon company. He then captured Soay and Seil as they left for the Clyde, where they are now working reliably in all weathers on the Western route between Dunoon and Gourock.

In his running down of Solandge, Andy  Mahon was [fruitlessly] warned off by Cammell Laird, even though neither he nor other MMMs were anywhere other than on public property – but wealthy owners – whoever they are – pull clout. During her time in Laird’s No 5 dry dock, a tarpaulin shielded her name.

Shipping forums record other similar experiences – one photographer also using St Mary’s Tower at the old Birkenhead Priory to get shots of Solandge, was shouted at by two Laird’s workers from a crane.

One forum carried circumstantial speculation that Solandge might have been the victim of IOM fishermen who are evidently known to leave fishing gear around and have previously damaged the IOM Steam Packet Company’s  ferry, MS Ben My Chree. This would be supported by the removal of her propellor at Lairds.

We’ll never know.  But it remains of interest that she showed Stavanger as her destination when she left Rendsburg – which is in Scandinavian waters on the Kiel Canal – and then turned up at IOM. Why the ‘cover story’?

Andy Mahon’s brief encounter with the shadowy visit of the brand new and prematurely damaged toy of some oligarch provides a variety of fascinating insights. And when it comes to luxury – Solandge, the 62nd biggest motor yacht in the world, at over 85 metres, has accommodation for 12 guests – and 29 crew.

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22 Responses to Andy Mahon: Cammell Laird – and the mystery visit of damaged new superyacht, Solandge

    • Actually, it’s an ugly brute. The most beautiful ships and yachts were probably built in the nineteen-thirties. As for the “aires” – a pox on them all, and their sycophants. They do little good, and the extreme gap between us and them is now obscene.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 17

  1. The 2002 IMO SOLAS Agreement included a mandate that required most vessels over 300GT to fit (and use)a Class A type AIS transceiver. The switching off of AIS is childish, dangerous and probably illegal.
    But there you go, down South, apparently in well connected circles it’s no longer illegal to snort class A drugs and have the odd spliff with the kids – all with Prime Ministerial support and a nod and a wink from the Met and Courts.
    But then to park your prized toy in the Mersey without getting a change of water smacks of forgetfulness or desperation from another super rich – who wouldn’t know what a tithe of income is anyway?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

  2. It’s quite amazing how SNP supporters – socialists by any other name – can be so pig ignorant.
    Can they not understand that the majority of people with extreme wealth have businesses that create the wages and Salaries for 1000′s of others. Do they object to that great Scot Andrew Carnegie, who created his wealth in the USA, returning so much of it to Scotland. That other half Scot at least, Donald Trump, employs around 20,000 people world wide. Apple mac are reckoned to directly and indirectly gives work to up to 600,000 people throughout the world and all from Steve Jobs taking a company from nothing to having more cash in the Bank at one point last year, than the whole of the USA’s exchequer. Bill Gates is giving away everything he earned from Microsoft about 45 billion dollars. These people with the drive and ability to expand their ideas are desperately needed – they are driven – they have that extra gene to succeed that separates them from the rest of us. We need more of them.
    Incidentally Cassandra ‘ Solandge ‘ is beautiful no matter what you think. Of course some 1930′s vessels were exceptional and I actually had the pleasure of helming the 125 foot J Class Velsheda on a beat through the Gulf of Corrvreckan a few years back and also have had the pleasure of taking Andrew Carnegie’s granddaughter and her lovely family sailing round the West Coast.
    One of the most boring jobs in sailing is being a crewman aboard a super yacht because you spend days and weeks in port waiting for the owners to use her, but they themselves are often just so busy earning the bucks
    and looking after the businesses that pay the wages, that they often just can’t get away..

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 14

    • I understand that you are a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist apologist and toady-to-the-rich Malcolm, but if anyone is pig-ignorant it is yourself. Unfortunately for you I cannot take seriously anyone who thinks Trump (who is a disgrace to the epithet “Scot”, or even “half-scot”) is any kind of role-model. For your further information, I am not an SNP supporter, and the SNP is not a socialist party. Your pig-ignorance is showing.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

      • At least Buffet had a sense of humour, but we can’t go around hoping for the rich to help us out. Charity is no substitute for organised wealth creation.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    • MK

      I am neither a pig nor ignorant nor for that matter greedy.

      Let’s talk about the here and now. Most of the high flier capitalists particularly in the financial sector have over the past 5 years have been found out as liars and cheats but for some strange reason immune from prosecution. At worst they may lose a knighthood or OBE.
      You seem immune to the ridiculous context of your admiration of an individual having 45 billion dollars and also you and your kind’s wish for nuclear weapons. At the same time food banks in this country are on the increase and world hunger continuing to increase despite the best intentions of Mr Gates ( he is an exception ).
      Maybe cruising up and down on a yacht tempers your views of others needs.

      I have unlike labour no concern about being called a socialist — better that than the greedy selfish individuals currently sitting in the so called UK cabinet calling themselves Conservative Unionist oh and of course liberal democrat. Lol.

      Merry Christmas

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  3. Once again Cassandra you bring all discussions down the lowest level possible, which is why I suspect you are one of life’s failures and non achievers who finds that forums like these are the only way of you ever being noticed. Nurse that inferiority complex because it’s the only thing you have.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

    • Wee bit of the soor plooms there Malcolm. I think you have got a bit lower there yourself, I mean you were the one who introduced the term “pig-ignorant” – if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

      PS Spelt with a “K”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

      • you were the one who described me as “having secret motives and being insincere” on another thread, to which I will request clarification on that thread. Pot Kettle Black springs to mind

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  4. Well, if that was what you were referring to, don’t put some completely different text in quotes. But don’t you lose any sleep either – just brush up on your textual markings. And a happy new year!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  5. disingenuous …. and I like the Oxford’s definition which says “Insincere, having secret motives”. This is perhaps where I remembered my. understanding of the meaning , perhaps you could explain what you meant.? and explain what was wrong with my textual marking relative to the Oxford’s definition!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    • Good grief sokay, I think this thread had run it’s race now. I take back the “disingenuousness” – I think it was just your elliptical style that was confusing me. By “textual marking” I meant that you had quoted (in ” ” quotes- which implies a literal quote) some words which were not the words I had written. Lets give this a rest now – its way off the subject. Happy new year – when it comes.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  6. Thought that the discussion was about the boat, which appears to me to have been designed by someone who previously specialised in expensive wedding cakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

    • Right enough, Arthur – and what a shower of yuletide backbiters!
      Hands up all those who are envious of a trip across the Atlantic in December in that thing.
      - and season’s greetings and God help to all of you.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • I don’t think she would go straight across Robert. She would probably run down to Madeira or even the Canaries, pick up the rich hirer and then turn right when the butter melted.

        With all these mod cons like fridge freezers on board they probably had to rely on some modern gizmo to make the turn.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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