Cross-Channel sailing boat set to ferry passengers to France

People travelling on the catamaran will also work as its crew

The new catamaran ferry is due to start operating in July
Published Last updated

A cross-Channel sailing boat ferry is expected to start carrying passengers to France later this year after a successful trial.

The company behind the initiative, SailLink, bought a catamaran in France and is having it certified in the UK to take passengers.

Called Echoes, it will carry 12 passengers with bicycles, and make a return trip each day between Dover and Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais, depending on the tides.

“Going to Boulogne, an ebb tide will help us, and the idea is to return a couple of hours later when the flood tide will reverse the current and get us to Dover quicker,” said Andrew Simons-Stotz, SailLink’s founder.

“Most days we will be on the water for 10 hours.”

'Alternative to planes'

Having raised €400,000 to buy the boat and get it ready for inspection, SailLink is still looking for investors for the extra €50,000-€100,000 needed to start operations. 

It is offering a five-year loan/bond, with 5% interest, based on the value of the boat.

Tickets will cost around €100 one way. The sailing schedule for this year, from July, should be available on the company’s website in June.

“We want to show there is an alternative to taking ferries or aeroplanes, which produces a lot less carbon dioxide,” said Mr Simons-Stotz.

“From our trial runs we know that most of our clients are more adventurous types, often heading off for walking or cycling holidays.”

Read more: Can I take my dog on a cross-channel UK-France ferry?

Clients can usually help to sail the boat once it has cleared the busy ports.

It has a berth in both Dover and Boulogne-sur-Mer with car parking nearby, although some clients arrive by train.

In addition to its sails, the catamaran is equipped with two motors which run on biodiesel. The company plans to put in a diesel-electric hybrid motor next winter. 

SailLink is also recruiting sailing staff, with each trip having a captain and a crew member on board.

Candidates must have commercial licences.

The catamaran will be registered in the UK, but the firm is also opening a French unit to help with the paperwork required to operate from France.