Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Rathlin and Cape Clear Ferries III - Believe It or Not

[A Fáilte Ireland website]

The directors of Rathlin Island Ferry Limited (RIFL) continue to have problems with the accuracy of detail on their Antrim and Cork ferry websites:

They surrendered their contract on the Cape Clear route earlier this year and even though the website shows they've since merely operated a summer service the snaphot claims 24/7/364.

"Even some locals were impressed that they could depart at 0645 from North Harbour [Cape Clear] and be in Belfast at 10***."

The first Manx2 flight from Cork Airport arrives in Belfast George Best Airport at 1030 so that rules out air travel. Baltimore to Belfast via Dublin is 322 miles so that means an average road speed of over 100 mph. No doubt An Garda Síochána and the PSNI would be impressed at such a turn of speed too!!

"New Contract is being tenderd for by four companies. It is due to be awarded during November 2010 and the new operator commences on Dec 1st. 2010**."

If the contract is out to tender how would the directors know how many tenderers there are? I can find no mention of this information on the DCEGA website but the Department has released the statement that it issued to RnaG:

"Tá 4 tairiscint i gcomhar seirbhís farantóireachta Chléire faighte ag an Roinn agus tá siad á mheas faoi láthair.  Tá an Roinn ag súil le cinneadh a dhéanamh sa chás go luath".

The 20 minute Rathlin Express catamaran crossing on the Rathlin route has finally been downgraded to 25 minutes but the actual times are often in the range 30-35 minutes. shows that current speeds are down to around 11-13 knots. Lady Iona, a similarly designed catamaran, achieves speeds of over 20 knots in Scottish waters.

Added November 19

Links on websites are always worth a look. West Cork Islands looks like a public information site but the opening page gives no clues to its ownership; a domain search sheds the following light:

     Created on: 2010-04-03
     Updated on: 2010-11-16
     Expires on: 2011-04-03
     Registrant Name: CIARAN O DRISCOLL
     Contact: Ciaran O Driscoll
     Registrant Address: North Harbour, Skibbereen

Even though the site was updated on November 16 there's a link on the Cape Clear Island page to the Naomh Ciaran II ferry, now apparently just a summer service, but no mention of the main government subsidised year-round service

** According to emara News DCEGA has postponed the start of the new 8-year contract until January 1, 2011.

*** The visitors and locals will be equally impressed with the speedy alteration to the website!!

.. they could depart at 0645 from North Harbour and be in Belfast at 10.45. (Not 10!)

However, according to the Cape Clear Xpress flyer, the first sailing each day is at 10.30, not 06.45. The 24/7/364 claim has also disappeared into the ether. Perhaps the Rathlin Express catamaran crossing time should now be altered from 25 minutes to a more realistic 35 minutes.