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Ferry across the….Estuary

Sheppey to Southend boat trips, hopeful for next Spring

A Ferryman from Bluetown is celebrating this week after securing a £20,000 deposit on a boat that will see trips run from Sheppey to Southend in Essex.

Dave Wilcock from Bluetown set off on a journey to Wales last Friday to view a 192 seater vessel named “Dame Shirley” and was given a thumbs up by ship surveyors for the go ahead.

Mr Wilcock, 52, from Blue Town, said: “The boat is in excellent condition but there are a few cosmetic jobs which need doing
“I will leave it in Cardiff Bay over the winter where it will be sheltered from the elements.

“In January, it will sail to a dry dock in Gloucester where it will get its licences to operate across the Thames Estuary.”

The 72 foot long twin engine vessel is also to be renamed as “The Spirit of Sheppey” and is expected to begin trips from Queenborough to Essex ready in time for the May Bank Holiday in 2018.

The rest of its £130,000 price is due in the new year.

Mr Wilcock added: “The Southend trips are just the start.
“During the week I would like to run excursions to Whitstable, Herne Bay the Red Sands Forts and around the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery.
“Hopefully, this will encourage people from Essex to come over and explore Kent.”

The Sprit of Sheppey is already fully equipped with a sound system, disco lights and Karaoke, and has already been booked out for a 70th Birthday Party.

Mr Wilcock said “I’d like to involve the community and encourage schools to hire it so Sheppey children can see their Island from the sea.”
He is hoping holiday parks will use the ferry for their visitors and is planning a minibus service to collect day-trippers.

His newly-formed company, Island Cruises, will operate a travel club with discounts for members and special deals on attractions across the water in Southend.
For more details, see www.islandcruisesuk.com

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