Tag Archives: Wightlink

Handbrake Turn In A Ferry

When you look at something like a ferry that can hold 180 cars and a thousand passengers, you don’t immediately think of agility and maneuverability.  However, the Wightlink ferries that run between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight have surprising capabilities.  The entry to Portsmouth Harbour is followed by a rapid change of direction to get to the terminal at Gunwharf.  From the Spinnaker Tower, you get a great view of how rapidly the ferry can be thrown around.  The St Clare is a bi-directional ship so it doesn’t back in like Victoria of Wight.  Instead, it looks like it is doing a handbrake turn.  The wake ends up almost combing out of the side of the boat!

Three Types of Wightlink Car Ferry

Having traveled on the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight for all of my life, I have seen many generations of ferry come and go.  The oldest ones I recall are Fishbourne and Camber Queen.  These would amaze current travelers with their limited car capacity and very limited customer amenities.  They were replaced by a bigger and better equipped fleet which were replaced in turn but the fleet of Saint named ferries.  Their time has mainly come and gone and now most have been replaced again.

On this trip, I got to ride of two ferries from the newer generation.  They have  a significant increase in capacity that has required the introduction of two level loading to allow the schedule to be kept.  While traveling on each, I got to see the other heading in the opposite direction along with one of the older Saint class.  The latest ferry has again gone away from bi-directional operation and has also added a hybrid power drive of some sort.  No idea how it works but the large logo on the side leaves you in no doubt that it is there.