HSC Wight Ryder I is one of two high-speed passenger catamarans operated by Wightlink on the Ryde to Portsmouth ferry route.

Wight Ryder I leaving Portsmouth
United Kingdom
NameHSC Wight Ryder I
Port of registryPortsmouth
RouteRyde to Portsmouth
BuilderFBMA, Philippines
Maiden voyage2009
In service29 September 2009
StatusIn active service
General characteristics
Tonnage520 GT
Length41 metres (135 ft)
Beam12 metres (39 ft)
Draught1.60 metres (5 ft 3 in)
Installed power2x 12-cyl Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel engines, each 1300bhp at 2100rpm
Speed26.7 knots (49.4 km/h; 30.7 mph)
Capacity260 passengers

Both vessels left their construction site in the Philippines in June 2009, and began service in September 2009. In preparation for their arrival, berth improvements at Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier were carried out. Following the introduction of the Wight Ryders into service, the existing vessels, FastCat Ryde and FastCat Shanklin were phased out, and eventually sold to new owners in Bristol.[1]

Unlike the older catamarans, the new vessels do not feature yellow and white "FastCat" branding, but are painted in a similar livery to Wightlink's larger car ferries.[2] They include an open-air upper deck whereas the previous catamarans were fully enclosed.

On introduction, the vessels were criticised for being too slow and too small, with a seating capacity reduced from 294 to 260. Wightlink stated that a new timetable would be introduced offering more services during the day to ensure that there would be sufficient places to meet demand.[3] The maximum speed is 26 knots compared to 34 knots for the earlier vessels, but as significant time is spent in the speed-limited region round Portsmouth Harbour, only a couple of minutes are lost, and fuel consumption is significantly less. However, the tight turnarounds can give cumulative delays if only one vessel is in operation on an hourly service.

A private naming and dedication ceremony took place on 17 September 2009 following the issuing of the passenger certificate. The vessels were initially expected to go into service on 21 September, with two days of discounted travel enabling passengers to trial the new vessels,[4] but this was later postponed and occurred towards the end of September.[3]

Following the launch, further problems arose when Wight Ryder II suffered a generator fault. This was followed by more problems on a later crossing involving a bang.[clarification needed] The vessel returned to Ryde Pier, and was temporarily replaced with an older FastCat vessel. Wightlink were criticised by passengers for poor levels of communication.[5] The older FastCats were again drafted in the following weekend when engineers discovered fuel contamination affecting both vessels.[6]

References edit

  1. ^ "Wightlink catamaran launched". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  2. ^ "First glimpse of ferry to come". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Ferry company defends smaller vessels". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  4. ^ "Cheap fares to view new ferries". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  5. ^ "New ferries cause Wightlink headache". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  6. ^ "Ferry problems again hit Wightlink". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 7 October 2009.

External links edit