Big delays aren't terribly common on the Isle of Wight ferries but they are terribly inconvenient when they happen.
Recent figures are hard to come by, but this official-looking report reckons that about 77% of ferries on the Wightlink Portsmouth to Fishbourne crossing left within five minutes of the planned departure time in 2015. For Lymington to Yarmouth it was 93% and Red Funnel's crossing from East Cowes to Southampton was 92%.
Hang around a ferry ticket office for a while and you'll hear a weary traveller asking why they can't get on the ferry leaving at 2pm when they are booked on the 2pm ferry.
"I'm afraid that's the 1pm ferry, sir" comes the reply.
A circular discussion then continues for a few minutes with the passenger pointing at the clock and gesticulating before stomping back to the car and repeating the discussion with their spouse.
The good news is that there is a compensation scheme in place. It is very similar to the Delay Repay scheme used by train companies but it's a little less generous in my opinion. I'd be keen to hear how many people actually use the ferry compensation scheme each year, as I suspect it's a tiny number.
It works like this:
A peak time single crossing can cost £100 on the Isle of Wight car ferry, so you'd get £50 back on a badly delayed crossing. During winter, you're more likely to get about £20 back (based on a return crossing costing £80).
There are also rules about them handing out drinks or putting you in accommodation overnight but I won't go into those. You can read about them here if you're interested.
The main exemption is when it's horrible weather and so the ship can't safely sail. I'm guessing that fog would be the main culprit here. The other exemption is 'extraordinary circumstances hindering the performance of your ferry service which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken' (that's from a fascinating document called 'Passenger Rights under Regulation EU 1177/2010 (incorporated into domestic UK law by section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018) when travelling by sea and inland waterway'
That's a little harder to pin down and relies on you knowing why the ferry is delayed.
My advice is to put a claim in if your ferry is delayed and see what they say. If you feel inclined, please add a comment onto to blog to say whether you were successful.
Wightlink and Red Funnel provide an online form that you can fill out, so you won't have to waste time and stamps on sending them a letter. Here's the links you need:
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog