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Displaying items by tag: Rare Open Day

In a rare opportunity, the public had a chance to take a tour of the Isles of Scilly passenger/cargoship ferry as part of Maritime UK Week events held to promote a career in the shipping sector, writes Jehan Ashmore

Afloat previously reported on the 'Open Day' which took place a week ago onboard Scillonian III which operates the Penzance-Hugh Town on St. Mary's route and which has a passage time of the 2 hours 45 minutes. This is the longest domestic ferry route operating off the English south coast. 

Fans of the Scillonian III, had travelled from beyond the south-west England, to take the special behind-the-scenes tour of the 486 passenger ship which notably loads vehicles by crane as deck cargo or lowered into the cargohold.

Those who travelled to Penzance Harbour for the tour held on a non-sailing day, had come from as far afield as Bristol, Shropshire, Taunton and Plymouth. Among those visiting the Cornish harbour was Linda Himsworth, from Shropshire, who said: “There was no way we were going to miss it. It meant so much to us.”

As well as the ship’s admirers, the operator the Isles of Scilly Steamship also welcomed secondary students from the West Country including Mounts Bay Academy and locally from the Penzance Sea Cadets.

Asides the main passenger decks with lounges and a cafe, the once-off guided tour allowed the visitors to some of Scillonian III’s usually unseen areas. This included access to the wheelhouse, crew cabin/quarters, the cargo-hold and onto the aft-deck. In addition the engine room which generates a maximum of just over 15 knots.

Some visitors during their tour were emotional and some had even bought gifts for the crew which numbers 18 in total. While others spent time reminiscing about their favourite seats and trips on board the veteran vessel serving tourists along with the communities living on the archipelago some 50 nautical miles offshore of Cornwall.

The 1,255 gross registered tonnes ferry was custom built in 1977 in the neighbouring county of (north) Devon at Appledore Shipbuilders near Bideford. The 68m ship features an elegant cruiser-stern complemented by a traditional superstructure reflecting an older era in ship design.

In 2017 the veteran vessel celebrated it's 40th year and so the ship is the longest serving passenger ferry on the route. Two years later the ferry marked another maritime milestone having welcomed on board its 4.5 millonth passenger.

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group in 2020 celebrated 100 years of service, providing essential transport links for islanders, tourists passengers and freight between the Isles of Scilly and the UK mainland.

At this stage of the year, the seasonal service is drawing to a close with the remaining sailings operating until early next month, though the company continue with a year-round air-service.

As for freight, this too continues throughout the year with a cargoship, Gry Maritha which since 1990 has also faithfully served the islanders.

Published in Ferry