Lifeboat tow for new Alderney ferry on her maiden voyage

ALDERNEY’S travel woes continued yesterday, as a new ferry service had to abandon its maiden voyage due to engine trouble.

An ignominious end to the first passenger-carrying voyage of the new Alderney ferry, the Azula, operated by Alderney Ferry Services, which had to be towed in by the RNLI lifeboat, Roy Barker I, after breaking down with engine problems yesterday morning. (Picture by David Nash)
An ignominious end to the first passenger-carrying voyage of the new Alderney ferry, the Azula, operated by Alderney Ferry Services, which had to be towed in by the RNLI lifeboat, Roy Barker I, after breaking down with engine problems yesterday morning. (Picture by David Nash)

Nine passengers boarded the 12-seater Azula, operated by Alderney Ferry Services, at 7am, bound for St Peter Port.

However, after just 20 minutes, a problem was identified with the boat’s turbo system which was sufficiently severe for the Alderney lifeboat to be required to tow the vessel back to Braye Harbour.

‘The planned launch of our new inter-island ferry service has had to be delayed by 72 hours in order to replace an engine part on our vessel, the Azula,’ the company’s co-owners, Daniel Slimm and Charlie Smith, said in a statement a few hours later.

‘After fitting and thorough sea trials over the next three days, we are now aiming for the service to start officially on Thursday.’

The new company, which was incorporated just last week, plans to operate seven days a week, with two rotations per day. All being well, daily departures from Alderney will be at 7am and 4.30pm, with return sailings leaving Guernsey at 9am and 6.30pm. The company anticipates a journey time of 90 minutes.

Following the failed launch, the owners thanked Alderney RNLI for the rescue and customers for their patience.

As a gesture of goodwill to those passengers who had been inconvenienced and had to change their pre-booked crossings for this week, a 10% discount was offered on all those pre-paid bookings.

The aborted sailing means the northern isle of the Bailiwick continues – for an additional three days, at least – to have no regular passenger ferry service to Guernsey, following the breakdown of the Ashlin, a Stormforce 11 Rib operated by the Salty Blonde, before the Liberation Day weekend.

The company was controversially chosen by the States of Alderney to receive a subsidy to run a seasonal service and the States was prompted to issue a statement explaining its tendering process, after a social media backlash. The eight-seater vessel is expected to be out of service for several weeks.

Air connectivity was also an Easter problem for Alderney residents and visitors, with mechanical issues also affecting the Dornier aircraft operated by sole carrier Aurigny.

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