Vital ferry link restored
A PASSENGER ferry which will provide a vital link between two seaside communities was officially launched this weekend.The new foot ferry between Brightlingsea and Point Clear near St Osyth set sail on Saturday morning following a send-off by George Hopkins, Deputy to the Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea.
By Sharon Asplin
A PASSENGER ferry which will provide a vital link between two seaside communities was officially launched this weekend.
The new foot ferry between Brightlingsea and Point Clear near St Osyth set sail on Saturday morning following a send-off by George Hopkins, Deputy to the Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea.
It is hoped the vessel will open up new opportunities for both locals and visitors to enjoy leisure facilities while reducing the number of road miles between the two communities.
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A passenger ferry has run between Brightlingsea and Point Clear since 1699, transporting local people and visitors. It sailed for the last time in 2002 when the ferryman retired.
However, the service resumed at the beginning of May with the use of the Harbour Commission workboat as a temporary vessel until the purpose-built boat was completed.
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The new service will be operated by the Brightlingsea Harbour Commission, which, with the Brightlingsea Business Association, Community Reach, Brightlingsea Town Council, St Osyth Parish Council, Orchards Holiday Village and East of England Development Agency formed a partnership to raise funds to make this venture possible.
Custom built, the 21-foot boat will be able to carry up to 12 passengers and will be equipped to carry bicycles, buggies, dogs and wheelchairs.
Bob Shotton, Brightlingsea Tourism Manager, said: "As far as Brightlingsea is concerned, it should increase the number of tourists coming into the town. Residents of Point Clear do not have access to facilities like banking and this will give them the opportunity to use them and improve their shopping options.
"Obviously the shops and pubs in Brightlingsea should benefit form the extra trade but Point Clear has a wide beach and is adjacent to a nature reserve so residents from Brightlingsea can take their dogs across and go somewhere different.
"Environmentally the scheme is also good - by road it is 12 miles each way between the two but the crossing takes just two or three minutes."
The ferry will initially run four days a week, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday during low season and seven days a week during high season on a scheduled basis.
At high tide when the ferry cannot land at Point Clear, trips on the river will be available, offering the chance to see landmarks and towns such as Wivenhoe and learn a little history in the process.
It is hoped to extend the ferry eventually to Mersea Island.
Timetables will be available at local information points and tourist information centres as well as on the ferry website www.brightlingseaferry.co.uk.
Information can also be obtained by calling 07981 450169 during ferry operating hours.