Sark Shipping faces growing baggage issue

SARK-BOUND passengers packing as if they were ‘going to Outer Mongolia’ have led Isle of Sark Shipping to look at how it handles baggage.

Shipping large amounts of baggage to Sark on the cargo vessel, the Sark Viking, is one option the shipping company is considering. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29071800)
Shipping large amounts of baggage to Sark on the cargo vessel, the Sark Viking, is one option the shipping company is considering. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29071800)

The issue came to light during a recent meeting in Sark at which IoSS managing director Yan Milner briefed members of the island’s business and hospitality community about the company’s performance in the last year.

During the meeting the issue of the amount of luggage being carried to Sark was raised, and Mr Milner later told the Guernsey Press that Guernsey residents travelling to Sark often took a lot more with them, even for a short stay, than visitors from the UK would do.

He said that while many UK visitors were restricted on how much they were able to bring to Guernsey in the first place, particularly if they came by air, locals had no such limits.

‘Guernsey people seem to think they’re going to Outer Mongolia and pack accordingly,’ he said. ‘This included taking drink.’

On one occasion a family of two adults and two children had 12 bags between them for a three-night stay in self-catering.

‘It became a little bit challenging and we weren’t really set up for it.’

But Mr Milner said charging for baggage would be the very last option, and the company may look to provide a similar service to that which it offered during the Sark Folk Festival, where a container is made available for people to deposit luggage in which is shipped across on the cargo boat.

This would avoid travellers having to take a lot of luggage on the peak morning sailings, he said.

Another option could be for those with a lot of bags to be restricted to off-peak trips.

Mr Milner said that there is a 20kg limit per person, but this has not really been policed.

‘It wasn’t really an issue. If someone turned up with three bags and we could get them on board, that was fine.

‘We are working on it. As people start buying tickets for next year, we are going to advise them.

‘We are looking, if we get permission, to put a container on the quay, a bit like we did for the folk festivals.’

Another point raised at the meeting was the difficulty some Guernsey residents had getting across to Sark on a Friday evening if they finished work at 5pm, with the early evening sailing departing at 5.10pm.

Mr Milner has moved that sailing to 5.30pm, although he said that working in Guernsey seemed to be a lot more flexible than it used to be, and people who wanted to travel could either leave a bit earlier after working later the previous day, or take a half-day off if necessary.

These changes will be in place for the best part of next year, he said, since even if the island’s borders reopened it was probably too late for tour operators, who account for a lot of bookings, to put packages in place.

‘Even if they open up, it’s going to take them a little bit of time to get themselves together.

‘We are planning on a summer like we had last year,’ he said. ‘The schedule we have put in place is based on that.’

However, capacity and frequency can be increased, if necessary.

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