By Ian Cooper

This article is published courtesy of The Stronsay Limpet

Following on from the article in the July ‘Limpet’ about the trial of the North Isles hydrofoil [THE NORTH ISLES HYDROFOIL] I’m grateful to Flora Brown for allowing me to copy several photos of the ‘Shadowfax’ lying in the basin in Kirkwall, one of which is shown here.


Photo courtesy of Flora Brown

Thanks also to Ingram Shearer for showing me two more photos of the hydrofoil contained in the 2nd volume of the ‘Images in Time’ book of photos.

As an update on the hydrofoil itself, as mentioned in the previous article the ‘Shadowfax’ carried out cross-channel sea trials between Calais and Dover on her way to Orkney and there are two short video clips of her engaged in these trials at

Cross-Channel Passenger Hydrofoil 1964

England: New Cross Channel Hydrofoil 1964

I also came upon a newspaper article from April 1965 advertising England’s first hydrofoil service to be run from Southampton to Cowes on the Isle of Wight from May to September of that year.

It was scheduled to make up to 12 return trips each day and was  set to carry up to 50,000 passengers over the season. Timetabled to make the crossing in 20 minutes instead of their current 60 minute crossing, the hydrofoil to be used was the Shadowfax, now renamed the ‘Cyra’, but it appears that this service never actually got off the ground.

Sometime around this same period she carried out more trials back in Holland, crossing the IJsselmeer between Enkhuizen and Stavoren, but this too was beset by problems as she struck a buoy rather forcefully and several passengers were injured. Here again, a scheduled service never started.

The final record of the ‘Cyra’ seems to have been of her being used as a fast passenger ferry in Hamburg in the 1970s and 80s.

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