Passengers tell of 25 hours of frustration

Exhausted passengers who last night emerged from their 25- hour ordeal on the stricken ferry Stena Challenger grounded off Calais told of their anger and dismay.

Most accepted that it had been simply an accident and shruged off their day at sea, but some were angry at their treatment by Stena Sealink.

One man was angry that his Polish fiancee was likely to miss her father's funeral in Warsaw which is due to take place this morning because of their enforced stay aboard. Steven Pawsey, 35, a self-employed taxi-driver from Northampton told of the despair of his girlfriend, Yolanta Mullan, 38, who was already upset by her loss.

"My girlfriend is absolutely distraught," he said. "We have missed the funeral, and that's what I'm most concerned about. Stena are trying to get a taxi to take us to Paris or Brussels so that we can fly there, but we've missed it.

David Barrow, an antiques dealer on his way to Holland, said that the stay aboard the ship had been frustrating but not frightening, although he believed that they should be compensated for their wasted time. "We tried to sleep, but we couldn't get much. I'm not angry. We have just lost a day. It would be good if they gave us some money, perhaps pounds 100 each or something like that."

But Hamad Rafiq, on a clothes-buying trip to Paris from Ilford, Essex, was much more adamant. "I want compensation," he said, from the driver's seat of his van. "It was like a prison in there." His friend, Omar Ahmed, was more forgiving, however. "It was just one of those things that happens."

Dennis Hoch, a 26-year-old dental student from Frankfurt told how they had spent the day watching videos and drinking unlimited soft drinks from the bar, though there had been only one free alcoholic drink supplied by the company to the passengers.

He said that only once had the mood grown ugly when one passenger wanted to buy another drink from the bar but the steward had refused. He had been trying to get another drink but the captain said that the bar was staying closed.

Like some of the other passengers, he said that the captain and crew had kept them informed about what was happening, but initially they were short of information. "The captain spoke to us: `I must apologise. We have a slight problem. We have struck a sandbank.' But he did not say how the problem had happened."

Philip Tweedy, 37, delivering a combine harvester to France from Ludlow in Shropshire, added: "We knew we were not in any danger. We just got on with things. It was frustrating and one or two people got a bit cross, but I didn't mind ... my boss pays me daily whether I work or not."

He described the bizarre feeling of being stranded on a huge vessel, yet able to wave to crowds on the beach just a short distance away.

"The captain told us we had hit a sandbank and when everyone went to look we found we were virtually on the beach. That seemed to break the ice and everybody just got on with things," he added.

Glaswegian-born Alec Smith, 66, now living in Australia, told how he tipped out of his wheelchair at the moment of impact. "I felt the bump and then I hit my neck. Everybody was very kind. They just lifted me back into the chair which had gone over backwards."

The 73 lorry drivers on board were keen to get off the ferry as quickly as possible and to pick up their journeys, many of which were deep into Europe.

Challenger's voyage

`Tint box head1'

8pm Tuesday: Stena Challenger leaves Dover.

9.35pm: Runs aground on Bleriot Plage, two miles south of Calais.

9.37am Wednesday: Rescue attempt abandoned until the next high tide after line from one of three French tugs breaks.

8.10pm: Ferry pulled off sandbank by one tug.

10.05pm: Vessel docks at Calais, two hours after she was refloated.

10.30pm: Passengers disembark, about 25 hours after their scheduled arrival.

(All times BST)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine