The Sandbanks Ferry Company had suspended its service on 21 April as a result of the government-directed lockdown, which resulted in a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers throughout April, finally reaching on average less than two cars per hour before the decision was made to withdraw the service for environmental and economic reasons.
Unfortunately, whilst out of service, and moored in Poole Harbour to keep it safe whilst unmanned, a large piece of concrete unexpectedly detached from the fixed jetty and fell into the ferry on 8 May. The ferry was not directly attached to or connected with this piece of concrete, but it has resulted in a small but significant amount of damage to the hull. At least one of the main prow hinge fixings is cracked and will need repair using a platform and scaffolding fixed to the deck of the ferry.
As a result, unexpected repair work needs to be carried out, and the company is awaiting Lloyd’s safety surveyor’s approval. More information on the exact date for the return to service, and social distancing measures for staff and customers, will be announced in due course.
On the plus side, the ferry company can now confirm that the service withdrawal period will be used to carry out all mandatory maintenance and refit work ahead of schedule while complying with social distancing guidelines. This means that the ferry will no longer need to be withdrawn from service in November for its regular biennial refit and maintenance schedule.
Commenting, Mike Kean, managing director of The Sandbanks Ferry Company said, “We were very disappointed to have to withdraw the service during this public health crisis. However, we are pleased to be able to carry out the November refit and maintenance work ahead of schedule. This will mean less disruption for businesses and residents in the busy run up to Christmas this year, which I hope will be welcome news.
“The damage sustained by the jetty malfunction is incredibly frustrating, when we were expecting to return to service as soon as traffic volumes were back at a sustainable level. We are doing all we can, working with our contractors and suppliers, to get this rectified as soon as possible. Social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to, so we once again ask our customers for their patience while we carry out these unforeseen repair works under difficult conditions.”
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