In August 2015 the Solent gained another passenger ferry operator when Cowes, IOW-based Scoot Ferries was launched. The vessel, Scoot 1, was named at Trinity Landing Stage, Cowes, at the launch event and operated the Cowes Week orientated Cowes-Hamble (Town Quay) service 7-16 August.
The 12-passenger 14m by 5m catamaran was built by South Boats of Cowes and is designed for crew transfer and windfarm industry duties. The boat has additional under-cover space for up to six bicycles, each of the seats has individual suspension for a safe and comfortable ride, with outdoor seating available when the weather is suitable.
Pre-booking is strongly advised, and essential at peak times. Having carried over 1300 passengers on the Hamble service, Scoot Ferries opened its first full time service from Yarmouth IOW to Lymington (Town Quay) on 1 September using Scoot 1. The first departure from Yarmouth is at 04.30 and the last return from Lymington is 23.30.
The Cowes-Hamble link returns full time in 2016 plus a new Cowes-Portsmouth service (to Gunwharf Quays) plus a Cowes town Quay-East Cowes ferry. The company is finding its own niche in the cross-Solent market with additional craft under construction to serve the Scoot Ferries network. Full details can be found at www.scootferries.co.uk. Andrew Cooke