As the BBC prepares to examine Euroferries and its attempts for the past 12 months to launch a Ramsgate-Boulogne fast ferry service, the' Ferry spotting' fraternity has had a busy day.
Could it be that Euroferries is after the 'Sea Leopard' bought by Epic (a Hong Kong based firm) from the administrators of the defunct Speedferries? The picture above and the history of this boat and all its aliases are all at this splendid site: http://doverferryphotos.co.uk/Vessel/Speedone.htm. It is an Incat 045 and was built in 1997 and has served with the Australian Navy; been pranged on Dover Breakwater and 'arrested' in Boulogne when Speedferries failed to cough up mooring fees. For those who like to know where boats are etc, look at www.shipais.com/showship.php?mmsi=235007470 to see Sea Leopard berthed at Tilbury.
Our maritime advisors tell us that an interesting change to Euroferries website describing a Gold Class 'lounge' (Bonanaza?) has been altered toGold Class 'section' (Sea Leopard) and that a 'bareboat charter' is the most likely deal that might be made. The problem with this is that a skipper and crew need to be found etc and the boat then cleared fit for Ramsgate - Boulogne. All, in 24 days remaining to 1st March that is shown as service start date still? It would seem that Sea Leopard isn't quite as spacious or classy as Bonanza and that only 4 coaches can be taken on with reversing on/off options only.
Rumour has it that TransEuropa are not happy about a Euroferries service in Ramsgate (is there a sole passenger carrier deal?) as it is rumoured to be taking on from LD lines, the Norman Spirit and Norman Arrow, to replace the boats running out of Ramsgate at the moment. I hope they are not thinking of pushing off to Dover in a picque.
Good old TDC PR and Cheryl have been equally uninformative about Euroferries in Ramsgate with this to say to-day:
The Council statement on Euroferries is:
'The Council has no outstanding obligations with Euroferries'. ENDs
In the meantime, my sympathies lie with the BBC 'sleuth' Glenn Campbell, who could be up-dating Inside-Out for broadcast next Monday, 8th Feb at 7.30pm, right up to the line! For the average Thanet resident I suppose, it boils down to 'Do I believe in the tooth-fairy?'