Demand was high this year for the return of water taxis that transport visitors to and from the island for TT.
Fully booked for the majority of its sailings, Northern Irish company Abhainn Cruises usually run the service in the two-week period but have missed the last two years due to the pandemic.
As a small family business, the rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) has been running since 2013 but only operating when the TT is on.
Founder and manager Tim Griffin said: ‘We started with just one 10 seater RHIB vessel, coded for commercial use, and myself a commercial Yachtmaster.
‘A few years ago I got the 250HP Yamaha engine of the boat wrapped as a Joey Dunlop helmet in tribute. Everyone loved this, even on our sea safari tours we get people who recognise it.
‘We now have another 12 seater RHIB and my son is a commercially endorsed skipper working with me.
‘The boats travel together from Ardglass to Peel on race day mornings and back in the evening. We run some extra sailings too when there is demand.
‘We have great communication with Ardglass Harbour and Peel Harbour staff and find them extremely accommodating and helpful.’
He explained that his family had a history with the TT, which was why he decided to start the service.
‘Like many in Northern Ireland we have grown up with motorcycle road racing as an important part of our social background and have personal connections to the sport,’ Mr Griffin said. ‘My wife’s father was a keen amateur road racer years ago, visited the Isle of Man to watch the TT races many times and fixed and sold motorcycles and gear as his own business.
‘My children have always had quads and scramblers. They love the races as well. It was just a natural step to start taking passengers to the TT on our boat.’
The journey takes on average an hour and a half but is weather dependent.
‘If it’s a bit rough at sea we travel slower to make our passengers comfortable,’ Mr Griffin said.
‘In perfect conditions we can run a little faster.
‘Occasionally a sailing is cancelled if wind conditions are creating an unsafe sea state for us.’
Among customers this year was TT rider Michael Dunlop. The business also runs safari tours on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland during spring and summer.
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