The first time visitor to the Islands can easily be bewildered by the number of boat trips on offer. A disproportionate number of the advertisments are for small boats each able to carry 12 people or less. However the larger boats all work together as St. Mary's Boatmen's Association
For almost 50 years the larger boats working from St. Mary's have come under the umbrella of St. Mary's Boatmen's Association. Today we have 10 boats working within the Association, each carrying between 72 and 100 passengers. Each boat is owned and operated by it's skipper, but the Association enables us to work together to provide visitors with the best possible service.
The Association caters for visitors staying on St. Mary's and for daytrippers. If you are staying on the off islands they have their own boat services. (See 'Links' section)
With the Association there is no need to rush and buy boat tickets in advance because of limited capacity. The 10 Association boats have a combined seating capacity of over 800 and if one trip is particularly popular and fills up we just bring in another boat to help out. Even on the busiest days we get everyone away.
Each day through the season we aim to run a direct service back and forth to each of the main off islands, together with a selection of circular trips to view the seals, seabirds etc. Whilst we run to a basic schedule, some of these trips are dependant on tides and weather so the trips on offer and their timings may vary.
Each morning the Association members meet up and plan the days trips. We then visit many of the hotel and guest houses at breakfast time to advise visitors of the trips for the day. Details are written on our three blackboards: one on St. Mary's Quay, one on the slipway by the Atlantic Hotel and one outside the Tourist Information Centre in Hugh Street.
Our ticket kiosk on the quay is always open from 9.30am - 10.15am and again from 1.30pm - 2.00pm, prior to our main departure times of 10.15 and 2.00. These are the times to come and talk to us so that we can advise you on how to get the most out of your boating. At busy times we will sometimes extend these opening hours.
For departures when the kiosk is not open, tickets can be obtained on the boat. They can also be purchased through our other ticket sellers.
It doesn't take long to find out how our service works and we hope that like many thousands of other visitors you will find that it's easy to use, is good value for money, and it's fun!