St Helen is retiring from service with Wightlink after 32 years on the Fishbourne-Portsmouth route. Over the years, she has sailed to and from the Isle of Wight 104,832 times – that represents 733,824 miles or 29 times around the world.
To mark her departure, Wightlink will be holding a farewell event on board St Helen’s last scheduled sailing on Thursday 26 March; it will take place on the 10:30 service from Portsmouth and 11:30 from Fishbourne.
St Helen was the last ship to be built at the Leith shipyard of Henry Robb Shipbuilders and Engineers and was handed over to British Rail Sealink in November 1983. St Catherine was also built at the Scottish yard.
One month later, on 8 December, during her naming and inauguration ceremony, a group of pupils and staff from St Helen’s Primary School in Ryde were among the first to travel to Portsmouth on board. Her retirement day will be marked by another visit from the children and staff of St Helen’s Primary together with at least one former pupil and teacher who were on board 32 years ago.
Former crew members will also be among customers on board for this special voyage and traditional sea shanties will be sung by the Guith Shantymen.
Steward Anni Ruecroft from Shanklin is looking forward to the day. She said:
“When I joined the company, my first ship was St Helen and she’s been very special to me ever since. Crossing the Solent on Wightlink ferries often brings back wonderful memories of school visits, landmark trips to the mainland and many other important times in your life. I’m sure many people will want to join us on board to say farewell”.
Wightlink is giving away free foot passenger tickets for the first 50 people who register their interest in being on board for the farewell sailing. For more information visit http://www.wightlink.co.uk/event/say-goodbye-st-helen-2/.
The vessel is not being scrapped, however is being sold on.