Our trusty inter-island freight ship Lyonesse Lady has been helping to bring Christmas to Scilly’s off-islands for more than 30 years.
Whether it’s Christmas trees, gifts or the all-important Christmas dinner ingredients, the Lyonesse’s crew of two will be busy making sure the islanders have everything they need to celebrate.
What Gry Maritha is to St Mary’s, the Lyonesse is to the off-islands – a lifeline. It’s a busy, year-round operation keeping the islands stocked up.
The Lyonesse has been serving the Isles of Scilly for more than three decades, each year carrying more than 5,000 tonnes of freight. She was purpose built for the Steamship Group in 1991 by Lochaber Marine in Fort William.
Her name comes from the legendary kingdom stretching between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly.
She replaced the old wooden freight vessel Gugh, which was an ex Royal Navy motor launch, in order to further support the islanders with a dedicated year-round freight service.
Apart from post, anything that needs to go to, or from, an off-island is taken on Lyonesse Lady.
More than half of the 5,000 tonnes of freight she carries every year is food and perishable goods, but other items include building supplies, vehicles, animals, flat pack buildings, heavy machinery, portable homes, electric buses, flowers and waste.
The Lyonesse is 15.5m long, can carry 13 tonnes of cargo and has a dedicated pair as her crew – Skipper Ben Jenkins and Assistant Launch Skipper Connor Whitmore.
She visits each off-island at least once a day – sometimes twice a day, depending on freight and tide – six days a week. Her schedule is entirely dependent on the tide, as she can only get to Bryher at high water.
The Lyonesse is estimated to travel between 5,000 and 6,000 nautical miles every year – equivalent to crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice. In her lifetime, she’s clocked up more than 155,000 miles.
She’s a lifeline to the off-islands, and one the off-islanders are very appreciative of, never more so than at this time of year.