Competitor unveils its ferry for Prudence Island

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PORTSMOUTH — First A&R Marine got the go-ahead to operate a ferry service between Prudence Island and Bristol.

Now the company has struck a deal for its boat.

“We would like to introduce you to the M/V Herbert C. Bonner,” A&R Marine stated in an e-mail that went out last week. “She was built by the North Carolina ferry systems, department of transportation, to run between Hatteras and (Ocracoke) Island, N.C.”

A&R has had a pending sale agreement on the vessel for the “last six or more months,” according to the e-mail.

“We are now preparing to move her into the shipyard where she will be retrofitted to suit our needs,” stated the e-mail.

The boat is 112 feet long and 40 feet wide and its current design allows for 25 regular vehicles, but the capacity will be reduced under A&R’s modifications.

“She has two bathrooms and one upstairs cabin. We are having a handicapped-accessible cabin built on the first deck along with a cargo space area designed for wheelie carts, carry-on baggage and small deliveries. This will bring our regular vehicle capacity down to 22, but it will provide more space for walk-on passengers,” the e-mail stated.

As to why the Bonner was taken out of service, A&R said she had become too small to serve North Carolina’s needs.

“The vessels of this class have all been replaced with ones that carry a minimum of 52 vehicle and some carrying much more,” according to the e-mail.

Pat Rossi of A&R stated on the “Heard Around the Dock” Facebook page that the company hopes to run the ferry out of Bristol and is “working out the details.”

A lease for the parking lot on Thames Street between the Town of Bristol and Prudence Island Ferry Inc. is set to expire June 14. Prudence Island Ferry owner Bruce Medley, however, said he’s confident that the lease will be extended.

On Prudence, A&R would most likely lease property adjacent to Mr. Medley’s dock that’s owned by the Town of Portsmouth.

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