Lake trials and staff training begin onboard new Windermere Lake Cruises vessel

Windermere Lake Cruises MV Swift
Windermere Lake Cruises MV Swift

Five Windermere Lake Cruises Masters are set to being their training to skipper the MV Swift, the biggest new vessel to be launched onto the lake in 80 years.

With 32 years’ experience at Windermere Lake Cruises between them, Rob Beale, Mihai Nichita and James Ellis are undergoing intensive training to enable them to sail as Master of the MV Swift, after lake trials for the 300-seat new build commences. Completing the first group of boatmasters to undergo training are Operations Managers Nick Thompson and Tony Stockton.

In common with existing steamers MV Swan and MV Teal, the new vessel boasts three decks but is slightly shorter in length to enable access to smaller jetties on Windermere to help suppoert other businesses in the area.

Operations Director at Windermere Lake Cruises, John Woodburn said, “We are really pleased to announce the members of MV Swift’s first crew, all of whom have demonstrated tremendous levels of commitment and enthusiasm over the years. The new vessel has been designed to operate in all seasons and will sail every day of the year except Christmas day. This new addition to our fleet will enhance the visitor experience thanks to 21st century quality, comfort, and accessibility, and we know this fantastic new vessel will be in safe hands.”

Rob started working for the company in 2008 at 19 years old, and qualified as a boatmaster in March 2010. Since then he has worked as a launch crewmember, skipper, and more recently beeame a mate/engineer on the ‘steamers’ based at Lakeside. He is well-known locally for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the entire Windermere Lake Cruises fleet – a fact further evidenced by the release of his award-winning book, “Lakeland Waterways”, in 2015.

Both Mihai and James joined Windermere Lake Cruises in 2010 as seasonal crewmembers and, like Rob, secured permanent positions and then qualified as boatmasters.  Since then Mihai and James have worked as launch Skippers, based at Waterhead Pier Ambleside, and Bowness, respectively. Between them Nick and Tony add a further 60 years of experience to the team.

MV Swift has recently undergone commissioning of all the onboard engineering equipment and testing of passenger amenities which include heated windows, electric doors and windows, USB sockets and bar/catering facilities. Earlier this week, MV Swift was taken out onto the lake for trials in near-perfect weather conditions. These lake trials included the measurement of the cruising speed, turning circle and a crash test to demonstrate the vessel’s emergency stop capabilities.

Commenting on the forthcoming launch of MV Swift, Mihai Nichita said, “Rob, James and myself will be fully trained before we take passengers out for MV Swift’s maiden voyage and I am really looking forward to working with the shipbuilder’s training team to learn the new systems. I’m delighted to have been given the chance to try out this new vessel and am really grateful for the opportunity.”

The new vessel is due to be handed over by Damen Shipyards Gorinchem BV in late September 2020 for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to test the capabilities of both the vessel and crew before issuing the Passenger Certificate. It is anticipated that the MV Swift will be available to carry its first passengers later in the autumn; further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.