Sandbanks Ferry

Sandbanks Ferry

Sandbanks Ferry is a vehicular chain ferry which crosses the entrance of Poole Harbour in the English county of Dorset. The route runs from Sandbanks to Studland and in doing so connects the coastal parts of the towns of Bournemouth and Poole with Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck. This avoids a 25 mile journey by road.

The ferry, along with the toll road that connects with it on the Studland side, is owned by the Bournemouth - Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company, which initiated the ferry crossing in 1923. The current ferry boat, named Bramble Bush Bay, was put into service in 1994 and can carry up to 48 cars. It is the fourth vessel to operate on the route.

The entrance to Poole Harbour is a particularly busy waterway, used by many private and leisure craft along with commercial vessels including large ferries serving routes to France. This often affects the ability of the ferry to maintain its nominal 20 minute frequency.


Although the ferry itself has a good safety record, there have been several incidents involving its passage across the harbour entrance.

On Sunday August 29,1976 a 14 foot sailing dinghy was driven into the side of the ferry by the outgoing tidal run following an engine failure. Although two of the occupants were pulled to safety the third occupant, a sixteen year old girl was unable to be pulled clear before the dinghy was pulled under the ferry by the current. She was able to free herself from the wrecked boat only to become trapped under the ferry in an air pocket beneath the bow ramp. She was subsequently rescued by her father, one of the dinghy crew who against advice, attached a rope around his waist and went under the ferry where he was able to locate the trapped girl, pulling her out and saving her life.

On June 16 2006, a yacht, the Flying Monkey, sustained severe damage to its mast and sails after a collision with the ferry. Because of the tide, the crew were unable to avoid both the chain ferry and a Condor commercial ferry which were approaching. The two men on board were able to board the chain ferry and the yacht was disentangled.

On Friday July 21, 2007 a small motorboat collided with the ferry and was pinned to the side by the current, reportedly after having run out of fuel and drifting into its path. Its two occupants were safely rescued by the RNLI.


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