Posted by: travelrat | July 25, 2007

Ferry Across the Solent

Murray Princess

When I was a kid, we had a joke:

‘What’s brown and steamy and comes out of Cowes?’

It wasn’t a very good joke, because it only worked if spoken, rather than written. But, the answer wasn’t the obvious, it was the Isle of Wight Ferry!

These days, though, it is neither brown nor steamy either. In fact, if you don’t take a car across, it’s rather swept up. Now, there’s no reason to take a car … rumour has it that it’s cheaper to take it to France than to the Isle of Wight … and parking is hard to find and expensive.

And, the island has an excellent Public Transport service … you can buy a Day Rover ticket for £10, which gets you a ride on all buses and trains, even the open-topped buses and ‘land trains’ which operate mainly for tourists. And, those tickets are even cheaper if you pay for a multi-day and/or family one.

One way for a foot passenger to cross is by the ‘Red Jet’, a fast catamaran service from Southampton. On the way, you’ll pass the historic Calshot Spit, where there’s a round castle and hangars, for this was once an RAF flying-boat base.

I was going to meet my wife on the island, and she’d had business in Portsmouth just before, and she’d left our car there. So, we returned on the hovercraft from Ryde to Southsea. And, I think the Red Jet has the edge. On the hovercraft, we could see very little for spray.

To continue my theme of uploading a picture which has nothing to do with the subject I’m discussing, here’s one of the ‘Murray Princess’ which we cruised on in 2006, and about which I’ve just had an article accepted. And, like the Isle of Wight ferry, it does float!


  1. I’m always interested to read posts about the Isle of Wight, as that is where we live, at least in the winter months until we return to our boat in Greece…

  2. From another Isle of Wight resident who enjoyed your positive take on the ferry crossing. Many bemoan the passing of the old ferry with the open top and cafeteria downstairs, but the fast catamaran from Ryde to Portsmouth has my vote for speed. I like the hovercraft when I’m travelling because they carry your bags on to the vessel for you and get them off at the other side where hopefully, your taxi is waiting. The long walk up the concourse at Portsmouth can be a struggle with a case, hand luggage and whatever and dragging your case up the gangway (sometimes in rain in the winter) is a definite no-no.

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