With just weeks to go before Scillonian III starts sailing to the Isles of Scilly once again, crews are hard at work ensuring that the vessel is shipshape for the 2018 season.

During the winter months, annual maintenance works and upgrades are carried out in Penzance Dry Dock to the iconic passenger ferry which, in its 40 years of service, has carried more than four million passengers.

When Scillonian III starts its sailings to St Mary’s on March 19th, passengers will notice some exciting new additions to the ship. For the first time ever, WiFi will be available for passengers to use on board.

Marcia Still, Ship’s Purser, said: “This will be the first season the ship has been able to provide WiFi to passengers during their crossing which is fantastic news for people sailing with us, and sure to prove very popular.

“As well as freshening up some of the seating areas, we are also updating the ship’s two cafés and launching a new coffee shop in these spaces – Western Rocks Coffee Co.”

Annual maintenance, carried out every winter, is vitally important to ensure that Scillonian remains in tip top condition. All the ship’s systems are tested, surveyed and passed, including onboard fire protection systems and lifesaving equipment, especially life rafts, which are all removed and surveyed before being returned to the ship.

Marcia added: “Every year, we repaint and clean, making repairs as we go. This could be anything from replacing damaged seats to weatherproofing the benches in the outdoor seating areas. Externally, the ship is repainted and maintenance carried out on external equipment, carrying out annual servicing and checks on the ship’s two engines.”

Between now and the first sailing of the Scillonian III in 2018, the ship will be taken out of Penzance Dry Dock for a series of sea trials, which Relief Master Pete Crawford explained the importance of.

Pete said: “The sea trials are a key stage for the crew each year. It’s our chance to see all of the hard work over the winter months finally pay off. Sea trials aren’t complete without swinging the compass – when we account for any deviation affecting the accuracy of the ship’s compass pointing to magnetic north.”

It’s not just the ship that receives annual maintenance, as the crew and staff aboard Scillonian III, led by Master Dave Redgrave, receive training ahead of the beginning of the season.

Marcia added: “All crew need to maintain their qualifications year-round, so we make the most of the off-season months by using the time to conduct any necessary training and renew qualifications before the sailing season starts. It’s also the perfect time for any new staff to familiarise themselves with the ship and the existing crew.”

Dave, Marcia, Pete and the crew are looking forward to the first sailing of Scillonian III on March 19th and to what the 2018 season will bring.

Pete said: “There is nothing nicer than sailing to Scilly on a clear day and seeing a pod of dolphins swimming alongside. That’s a bit special.”

Book your crossing to the Isles of Scilly today aboard Scillonian III.