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New Fast Ferry For Cape Clear Island Is Licensed & Ready To Go

28th July 2018
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Purchased from Norway earlier this year, Dún na Séad II is expected to halve journey times between Cape Clear and the mainland Purchased from Norway earlier this year, Dún na Séad II is expected to halve journey times between Cape Clear and the mainland Photo: Cape Clear Island Ferries

#FerryNews - A new fast ferry has just been commissioned for Cape Clear Island Ferries after completing various surveys and sea trials and a number of modifications to comply with Irish MSO standards.

Dún na Séad II was purchased in Norway earlier this year and arrived in Baltimore in April. It is capable of speeds of up to 20 knots with an operating speed of 18 knots and has a crane and cargo capacity of 6 tons.

Features include airline-style seating with large windows in a comfortable saloon with air conditioning and other features.

Licensed for 97 passengers with upper deck seating that affords outstanding 360-degree views of Roaringwater Bay, the ferry marks a substantial investment for the Cape Clear Island Ferries which owns three other passenger vessels: Dún an Óir II, Dún Aengus and Cailín Óir.

Dún na Séad II will operate primarily on the Schull—Cape Clear route but it is planned to use her occasionally on the Baltimore—Cape Clear route which is the main year-round service to the island.

Current traveling times of 45 minutes from both Schull and Baltimore will be halved when this vessel is in use.

Cape Clear Island Ferries says that the larger vessel together with the shorter journey time more than doubles the potential passenger capacity, and its focus will be on larger groups, bus and coach tours as well as building relationships with complementary service providers.

The ferry company has in recent years focused on soft adventure tourism surrounding the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse, which has shown double-digit growth over the past four years.

Considered the ‘Gateway to the Fastnet’, Cape Clear Island regularly welcomes passengers arriving from both Schull and Baltimore to see the famous rock.

While the company does not offer specific whale-watching trips, whale and dolphin sightings are a frequent occurrence in the area.

Cape Clear Ferries is owned by local shareholders on Cape Clear Island and Baltimore and its management, shareholders and staff are all from the immediate area. The business was established in 2007.

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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