Vital Harbour Ferry is Back in Action
The historic foot and bicycle ferry link was put in jeopardy in September when the 40-foot vessel was ripped from her mooring at Ha’penny Pier, Harwich, and badly damaged by an exceptional and unpredicted storm. The ferry is so popular that a GoFundMe appeal was immediately set up by a well-wisher to help get her back in service. Donations and the insurance payout were topped up by the owners and the ferry will be back in operation from March 29. Bookings can be made via the website at harwichharbourferry.com
Owners Chris and Lucy Zemann, who have built up a successful business since taking it over in 2015 when it was on the brink of closure, have been working tirelessly to repair the vessel.
The ferry was previously a lifeboat on the SS Canberra so, despite sustaining extensive damage, she did not sink.
Lucy said: “We are absolutely delighted to be back on the water and we can’t wait to welcome residents and tourists back aboard. It has been a long, labor-intensive mission, but now the ferry is better than ever and looking very smart!
“Every year we ferry 30,000 people between Harwich. Shotley and Felixstowe, supporting many other local businesses, providing an essential service connecting these communities and bringing pleasure to thousands. Now, more than ever, people want something fun and different to do outdoors, so we expect to be busy.”
Lucy added: “We have been inundated with messages of support and it really means so much to know how loved and needed the ferry is. We send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has sent words of encouragement and to every single person who donated. We also want to thank the incredible craftsmen, experts and volunteers, including the brilliant team at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, who worked tirelessly with us to bring the ferry back to life.”
Large sections of the port side of the boat were damaged in the storm and the electronic ticketing system and other equipment were lost. The engine was flooded and the most urgent need was to preserve it. It was taken apart, serviced, and put back together with new gaskets and cylinders. Work has also included the installation of new safety systems, alarms, dashboard, propeller, stern gland, heating system, and 300m of cables. New windows have been fabricated and repairs made to the fiberglass hull.
A foot and bicycle ferry has served the communities of Harwich, Shotley, and Felixstowe for more than 100 years, connecting families and businesses and delighting tourists who want to cross the busy harbour.