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#NewFerryArrives - Residents of Rathlin Island now have an exciting addition as a brand new car ferry arrived this morning which is to serve the North’s only inhabited island, writes Jehan Ashmore.

After a 20 hour delivery voyage from boatbuilders Arklow Marine Services, the Spirit of Rathlin sailed into Church Bay. The main harbour of the island which has a population of around 150.

Crew of existing fast-craft ferry, Rathlin Express sailed out of Church Bay to welcome Spirit of Rathlin off Rue Point. A sight that was breathtaking for the operator to see as both vessels approached Rathlin in unison. By coincidence Rathin Express (see artists sketch) with a capacity just shy of 100 passengers was also built by AMS back in 2009. 

Spirit of Rathlin was commissioned by the Department for Infrastructure (Dfi) at a cost of £2.8m and through a tendering process a contract was awarded to Rathlin Ferry Co. The new vessel will enhance operations for both islanders and for tourists exploring the delights of the 'Causeway' coast. 

The tender contract is for a duration of a decade that is to see the new six vehicle ferry ply the Sea of Moyle. This six mile stretch of water separates the island and Ballycastle. The harbour on the mainland is located on the equally stunning Antrim coast.

The presence of Spirit of Rathlin will not mean immediate service as sea trials at both harbours will firstly have to take place. In the meantime routine sailings are operating. 

Vehicles using Spirit of Rathlin will involve the ferry's bow-loading ramp, however only islanders can take their cars on board.

As for the 140 passengers, they will be accommodated in a much larger superstructure compared to carferry Canna. This veteran vessel which has its origins in Scotland, having been built in 1976 for Caledanian MacBrayne (CalMac). They had operated the Rathlin service until 12 years ago and Canna will be replaced by the island's first custom-built carferry.

Last month Afloat reported on the unique arrival of Spirit of Rathlin into Greystones Harbour, as this enabled the 28m long newbuild to carry out the first ever trials of using the bow door. This took place at the boat slip that saw a car embark via the vessels ramp. The exercise was shortly followed by a van.

Published in Ferry

About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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