The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company (ISSCO) will once again provide transportation from their dock on Market Street in Portsmouth to Star Island for conference guests and other overnight visitors. Beginning in June we will sail to Star Island on the M/V Thomas Laighton, the boat that brought Shoalers to Star from the mid-1980s to 2004. For newcomers, the Laighton is a 90-foot vessel, with three decks, two of which are fully enclosed and heated. It has the capacity to hold 300, and has many amenities, including a snack bar, several washrooms, comfortable deck chairs, and the boat is wheelchair-accessible.
There are many reasons that we are so delighted that Star Island guests will once again embark for their trip to the island from Portsmouth on the Laighton. First, there is a very long history that ties Star Island with ferry service from Portsmouth. Shoalers may remember forerunners to the Laighton: the Viking, the Oceanic, and of course, the Kiboko, which provided service from 1946 to 1961.
Besides the historical significance, there are many practical advantages to this move:
- Using the Laighton will allow all participants from a conference to share the experience of arriving at Star together…and going home together.
- Portsmouth is accessible by public transportation, a great boon to those who are coming to Star from Logan or Manchester airports.
- Parking will be simplified; with a paved and well-lit lot, the luggage drop-off will be right next to the boats.
- Simplified parking will mean fewer SIC employees must come into Portsmouth to manage the boarding/disembarking processes.
- More time will be available on the island for turn-around; cleaning, repairs, and general maintenance can be done in a less rushed environment.
- Early arrivals can take advantage of the hotels right across the street; coming back into Portsmouth on Saturday could mean lunch and shopping, to extend their Star Island experience for another few hours.
- The ISSCO staff is familiar with Star Island, the Shoalers, and our needs…they will be genuine partners in this venture.
The details of directions to the dock, information about times, logistics of luggage handling and checking in, are all being developed as we write this note. Joe Watts and Keith Noyes are working together with Captain Jeremy Bell, the Operations Manager for ISSCO and senior captain for the Laighton to iron out all the steps for 2010. It is also important to note that the rates for transportation include only a modest increase for adults, none for children, and the parking fee is also the same as last year, but with much better facilities! Please check the Star Island website after February 1, 2010, for the details on transportation.