The ferry Tõll arrived at Virtsu port yesterday afternoon, after leaving the Remontowa shipyard in Poland on Sunday, where it ran into trouble when docking due to hummocked ice.
Tõll began its docking maneuver in Virtsu at around 2.30 p.m. when it piled up pieces of ice in front of its prow that kept the vessel from reaching the dock. The ferry then tried the dock one over to take the place of recently departed ferry Hiiumaa. The second attempt was successful. Hiiumaa used the other dock on its return from Kuivastu harbor.
“There was a little too much hummocked ice in the port, which is how it happened,” said harbormaster at Virtsu, Valdur Häng.
While Häng agreed that ice conditions – thickness of a few dozen cm – were hardly extreme, he said it is too soon for criticizing the new ferry. “It was the crew's first time in our port; they need more practice,” the harbormaster said.
He added that the fact Hiiumaa reached the ice-blocked dock in mere seconds makes sense. “Tõll had moved most of the ice out of the way.”
Chief mate of the Hiiumaa, Edgar Nuum, disagreed: “Tõll had pushed the ice up against the dock that kept it at bay. We also had trouble.”
Tõll's captain, Peeter Sepp, who brought the ferry over from Poland, said that problems were caused by the fact the Virtsu dock is not really suitable for the ferry.
“Tõll is longer than Hiiumaa, meaning it has less room for maneuvers. Because the dock we tried first has a small section of the jetty obstructing entry, Tõll cannot enter following a straight trajectory,” he explained. The captain added, however, that the dock the ferry tried next is well suited for it as it is accessible prow-first.
People who had come to welcome Tõll were not bothered by the minor incident, and initial emotions were positive. Viewers applauded the ferry's blue, black, and white paint job.
Tõll left the shipyard in Poland on Sunday at 2 p.m. Estonian time and entered Estonia's territorial waters at around 8 a.m. yesterday morning, between Saaremaa's Sõrve säär and Courland in Latvia.
The port at Virtsu was the ferry's first stop in Estonia. Tõll will now travel on to Tallinn where it will be prepared for daily service by having its cafe, shop, and children's play area fitted and its Wi-Fi, information and design graphics installed, as well as trainings for the crew and waiting staff.
The ferry will start servicing the Virtsu-Kuivastu line in the second half of January.