Passengers were left stranded on the Isle of Wight’s new Floating Bridge, originally christened Floaty McFloatyface by locals, after it broke down just a day after services began.
The travellers had to be helped from the chain link ferry by staff, with some taking off shoes and socks to wade through the river water to the slipway. Ferry staff suspended services after a technical breakdown and said the vessel may be out of action until Monday.
The new Floating Bridge replaced a vessel that had crossed between Cowes and East Cowes for 40 years.
Crowds who gathered for Saturday’s launch witnessed bumpers scraping the slipway as vehicles disembarked from the vessel. Isle of Wight Council had previously said “final teething problems” would be dealt with before the official launch next month.
Independent councillor for East Cowes Karl Love, said it was a “catalogue of disaster”. Many cars were unable to get on or off the chain ferry without scraping their undercarriages on the ramps.
“Everyone was desperately wanting this to be a success for the town – everyone was so excited. It was clear from the beginning cars couldn’t get off in a straight line.”
Ferry staff have said that the service had been suspended until engineers could examine the vessel. A launch used to ferry foot passengers since the start of the year has been put back in action in the meantime.
The vessel and slipway work has cost £4.6m, of which £3.8m came from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.