There has been a ferry service linking Harwich, Felixstowe and Shotley since 1912. The harbour area is very popular with visitors who particularly enjoy the beautiful scenery along the River Stour and River Orwell.
So when an opportunity arose to purchase a harbour ferry business in April 2015, Lucy and Christian Zemann jumped at the chance. Being a couple who love boating and the sea, this was a great opportunity to set up a legacy for their family. Running during the summer months, Harwich Harbour Ferry Services Ltd provides a frequent service for tourists to East Anglia, for those with business between the ports and for the convenience of local people.
In May 2016, the Zemann’s were looking to expand their services, grow the business and needed some additional investment so approached Nwes about the Start Up Loan process. This gave them the injection they needed to launch their new boat the Harbour Ferry, which is licensed to carry up to 58 passengers – a significant increase on the previous ferry’s 12-person capacity. They are the only existing link across the estuary between Suffolk and Essex.
Alongside the substantial investment in the new ferry, the company has also commissioned local company Fox’s Marina & Boatyard to design and build a bespoke boarding ramp that will allow passengers to embark and disembark from the vessel easily and safely, direct from the beach alongside Felixstowe’s View Point Café at Languard Point, which makes the Harbour Ferry the biggest ferry operator in the UK for beach landing.
“With the launching of the new Harbour Ferry, the company is also introducing and hourly service from each of its three departure points in Shotley, Harwich and Felixstowe, which it will operate daily between 1 May and 30 September.” Lucy and Christian explain. “In addition to the convenience of more frequent sailings, the new timetable will allow passengers who don’t wish to disembark to enjoy a 55-minute round trip of Harwich Harbour for just £10, with its stunning close-up views of the biggest container ships in the world alongside one of Europe’s largest container terminals at Felixstowe.”
When asked about the support from Nwes, the couple said “It was very good. Business Advisor Lou Cessford guided us step by step through the Start Up Loan process – she was very patient.”
Business Advisor Lou Cessford comments, “The Zemanns’ ferry service plays a vital role in transporting foot passengers between Harwich and Felixstowe. I was happy to support their application for funding to enable them to expand the service and enable yet more passengers to take advantage of their service.” Lou continues, “Until I met Lucy and Christian, I didn’t realise that there was such a service across the water and I have lived in Suffolk all my life. I wish them every success and am confident that the business will go from strength to strength.”
Even though the hours are long, Lucy and Christian appreciate the highlights of running their own business. “We now have the autonomy and independence we craved. We can make our own choices about the development of the business.”
For further information about Harwich Harbour Ferry Services Ltd, visit their website.