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Revolutionary £2.2m 'Banana Float Fleet' To Replace Troubled Isle Of Wight Floating Bridge

A blueprint of the proposed Banana Float link between Cowes and East Cowes

A new proposal could see the maligned Cowes to East Cowes floating bridge replaced by a fleet of banana boats this summer - at a cost of around £2.2m.

Following negotiations with consultants Fruitopia, the latest proposal would see Australian company Freelee take to the River Medina with their rubber dinghies shaped like the popular fruit.

A spokesperson for Freelee said: 

"The foldable boat is made specifically of special plastic which makes it very light in weight and almost indestructible.

"Therefore, Islanders can actually carry it and help to blow it up if they wish to board the first crossing of the day and are in a hurry.

"Unlike the current Floating Bridge 6, this won't break down and we have plenty of masking tape in case of any leaks."

The transportation, dubbed the 'Banana Float Fleet', will allow up to 5 passengers to cross the Medina on 8 vessels per trip, although any vehicles or bicycles will need to be left behind, with luggage taken at the owner's own risk.

A prototype boat - but Freelee promises the final vessel will be '30 per cent more banana-y'.

It's thought that the move could improve air quality in the area and motivate people to use public transport.

Each crossing is likely to take around 27 minutes to complete, although if the passengers are happy to help row then that time could be reduced significantly.

The end of 'Floaty McFloatface?'

The £3.5m chain ferry, which crosses the River Medina, has been plagued with problems since being installed in 2017.

In October 2019 the publication of a Freedom of Information request showed the diminishing financial performance of the floating bridge from the financial year of 2015–16 to the first 5 months of 2019–20.

The cost of additional launch services and perceived unreliability of the new vessel from 2017 was blamed for the loss in revenue.

Cllr Dexter Fletcher said the decision to replace the floater "has been a long time coming".

"This Island needs to know we are not taking the demise of our beloved floating bridge lightly." he said.

Mr Fletcher called the banana boat proposal the start of an exciting voyage both figuratively and metaphorically, and one which promotes five-a-day nutrition, exercise and environmental health.

He concluded:

"We live in a society where we are bombarded by instant gratification through social media and reality TV, we forget to embrace those unadulterated, visceral pleasures.

"These bananas will put us on the cutting edge of exciting new technology, while conversly also returning us to our core as an Island - we should not look to emulate the big city, but revel in our earthbound olde worlde nostalgia.

"Frankly I can't wait!"

Freelee said it will use the results of multiple reviews over the past seven years to inform the next stages of replacing the vessel.

Should the proposal be accepted, the first 100 passengers to board the Banana Floats will each receive a free banana courtesy of the Australian company.

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