Pioneer tickets now on ‘sail’ for new cross-channel passenger ferry

Published on: 01 September 2022

Cross-channel passenger ferry routes

SailLink is a new cross-channel ferry service specifically for foot passengers, cycle tourists and small groups. It will use purpose-built sailing vessel(s) to take a maximum of twelve passengers between attractive coastal destinations. With this size, SailLink will access the commercial pontoons of marinas, thereby connecting passengers with the cultural centres rather than the out-of-town vehicle terminals.

The pilot phase with first passengers will be taking place from 10-18 September. Pioneer and supporter tickets can be booked through the company’s website, as well as sponsorship opportunities for interested partners. 

Its founder and director is Andrew Simons – boatbuilder, sailor, environmental scientist and, for many years, a regular traveler between the UK and European continent. SailLink was conceived as the solution to his own preferences and requirements in getting across the English Channel. Together with Jim Duerden, a highly-experienced sailor and the only RYA catamaran sailing instructor in the UK, the practical and regulatory feasibility of the concept was explored and a potentially suitable first route was defined.  

This first route will be between Dover and Boulogne-sur-Mer, with a crossing time of  approximately four hours. In the first year, we intend to achieve one return crossing per day.  Border formalities will be conducted on departure and arrival by the mobile border agents.  Passengers can go from the harbour café onto the boat within 30 mins and the same at the other end. This makes the total crossing time no longer than for a conventional ferry considering the time taken to arrive at the terminal, clear border controls and board the vessel.  

The SailLink routes are designed according to the prevailing winds and tidal streams as well as the accessibility and suitability of the ports. The visitor attractions, onward connection via public transport or connection with cycle routes are examples of the criteria considered. During the crossing, passengers have the option of joining in with the sailing or helping with regular marine sampling and observations for the company’s research partners.  

Our vessels will be fast, commercial sailing catamarans fitted with electric propulsion for port  access, maintaining the schedule and providing a quiet, clean and regenerative form of auxiliary power. The company will work with the vehicle ferry operators to carry its passengers and maintain their travel itineraries when weather conditions would make a specific crossing uncomfortable. 

Prices for the pilot phase are £85 for an adult one-way, £150 for a return. For children and  bicycles please see the website for guidance. 

SailLink’s ambition is not only to provide a fantastic and convenient passenger experience, but also highly-rewarding career perspectives for its employees as well as inspiring high performance innovation in commercial sailing vessels. “We want to provide professionals with a serious sailing job that they can combine with daily shore commitments (e.g. family) and to challenge a UK French collaboration in the design and construction of a sailing vessel equivalent to the Concorde.”

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