Blunavy ferries

The story of Blunavy still remains to be written; in fact, it only began running Elba island ferry services in late May 2010.

The Island of Elba had been feeling the need for a new player in the field of maritime transport to and from the island for years. Toremar had been increasingly failing to offer serious, tough competition for the commercial and shipping force of Moby for the island; the former had been run aground by budget problems and rigid management for years, which had slowly caused its decline. There was no lack of attempts over the years on the part of several shipping companies, both established and newly founded, to establish themselves as the third player in running car and passenger connections to the Island of Elba, but all of them went under due to bureaucratic or technical problems. In early December 2009, yet another bid to be awarded the remaining 20% of the free slots in the port of Piombino was put forward between two shipping companies.

The two companies vying for the slots were Corsica Ferries-Sardinia Ferries and Blunavy; the former had been operating on Corsica and Sardinia for years, whereas the second had been operating daily mini-cruises around the Tuscan Archipelago for years, using a small passenger vessels. It later emerged that Blunavy’s initiative was strongly favoured and commercially supported by the Hoteliers’ Association of Elba. Corsica Sardinia Ferries claimed misconduct in the tender award proceedings and announced appeals against its own offer not being accepted by the Piombino and Elba Port Authorities. These appeals were inevitably lodged when, on the 12/03/2010, the companies’ proposals were examined and the remaining free slots (four in Portoferraio and one in Cavo) were surprisingly awarded to Blunavy. The confirmation from the port committee came on the 22/03/2010: it was decided – Blunavy would be the third shipping company for Elba.

At this point, according to the Administrator Antonio Tortora, there was nothing left to do but complete all the technical and bureaucratic procedures and form the company organisation, starting with hiring on-board and on-land staff. Hiring began in mid-April and by the end of April, the tests for the ship that had been purchased had been conducted in the quay. It was to be the “Primrose”, the ferry used by Blunavy. This was a ship operating in northern Europe and compliant with all the new legislation; it was not new but had been refurbished and was certainly the biggest of all competitors serving the line. In fact, it was precisely its size that interfered with finding a suitable docking site in the port of Cavo, while the docking tests were being passed in Portoferraio. It was revealed that a maritime group operating in the port of Genoa, Finsea, was behind the small company Blunavy.

In the following days, at the same time as the date of the first run, which was due to be on the28/05/2010, was published, an important change was unexpectedly announced; transport to and from the Island of Elba would not in fact be provided by Blunavy, small mini-cruise company, but by “BN di Navigazione”, a limited liability company owned 100% by Finsea, of which Giulio Schenone became the administrator. Blunavy would, however, be the trading name. The 2010 season saw a difficult beginning, given the numerous tasks necessary for operations to be launched, but the balance sheet for the season was mixed; the high management costs for the large ship “Primerose” and the unappealing timetables assigned to the company were the most critical issues. Between the end of 2010 and the first few months of 2011, the Port Authority decided to assign more slots; however, these were not awarded to Blunavy but to Corsica Ferries-Sardinia Ferries. Blunavy responded by replacing the costly Primerose with a modern and more economic ferry, the “Achaeos“, which offered particular strengths. It was a bidirectional ferry (with two prows, or rather with identical bow and stern performing the same functions), which meant that the manoeuvre stages inside the ports of arrival and departure could be eliminated, thus saving a considerable amount of time, which in turn saved a considerable amount of fuel equal to the journey time. In fact, although the Achaeos is capable of reaching 16.5 knots, it can get between Piombino and Portoferraio in an hour proceeding at just over 14 knots, whereas other ferries have to travel at higher speeds to keep the crossing time within 60 minutes.

Profiles of the Blunavy ferry boats running to the Island of Elba:

  • Primerose (no longer running)
  • Achaeos (no longer running)
  • Ostfold