A new sailing boat passenger service between Dover and Boulogne-sur-Mer begins a trial this month ahead of its official launch next year.
Trial tickets nearly sold out
SailLink aims to provide a sustainable mode of transport between England and France, designed for foot passengers and cyclists.
The pilot phase will run from September 10 to 18, with one or two crossings per day, and most journeys have already sold out.
The company then plans to run one journey each way between April and October 2023, with each leg taking around four hours.
Boarding and disembarking will take no longer than 30 minutes, including customs and passport control.
The catamarans will be able to take 12 passengers at a time, with space for luggage in the hold.
Links up with local transport
Andrew Simons, boatbuilder, sailor and environmental scientist, had the idea when making trips to England from his home in Switzerland.
“You need to link the train and ferry and end up having to go to an out-of-town ferry terminal,” he said.
“You pass marinas where the boats are and think, why can’t we use one of those?”
Help sail the boat
As well as being near transport links, the chosen ports are closer to town and to attractions such as the Nausicaá aquarium in Boulogne, with which Yorkshireman Mr Simon is working to provide educational materials.
Passengers can even help with sailing the boat.
“It’s not just about travel – it’s about the ocean experience, and ocean awareness.”
Mr Simons said he does not think seasickness will be an issue.
“People get seasick on a ferry because they’re in a large building space and don’t have much eye contact with the ocean which governs their movements.”
A route between Ramsgate and Dunkirk is planned for 2024 and one from Newhaven to Dieppe in 2025.
Tickets for the trial are €100 for adults, €70 for children and €20 extra for bicycles.