Just as the Isle of Wight ferry, St Clare, returns to service after its winter refit, Wightlink’s flagship vehicle ferry, Victoria of Wight, is going out of service until mid-March.

The smaller ferry, the operator's former flagship, returned to the Fishbourne to Portsmouth Solent crossing this week, after a refit and upgrade in Cornwall.

Meanwhile, the Victoria of Wight refit is already underway, with shore-based work being carried out in Portsmouth.

Once that is complete, the boat will travel to Falmouth's dry dock for more work.

Isle of Wight County Press: St Clare received its winter refit and upgrades, and has now returned to serviceSt Clare received its winter refit and upgrades, and has now returned to service (Image: Wightlink)

Wightlink says it is difficult to predict exactly when the vessel will return to service, as bad weather can affect outside work such as painting and dry-docking.

A spokesperson told the County Press: “Victoria of Wight is now out of service for a few weeks. 

“To start with, maintenance is underway at our port in Portsmouth, then she will sail to Falmouth.

“Our flagship is expected back in service in mid-March - in good time for Easter.”

The Island ferry firm apologised last year after it was accused of 'ruining Christmas' for pulling Victoria of Wight out of service for vital maitenance. 

Isle of Wight County Press: Wightlink's flagship vehicle ferry, Victoria of WightWightlink's flagship vehicle ferry, Victoria of Wight (Image: IWCP)

Harriet Hadfield, who launched a petition to bring back FastCat sailings, and wants to stand for the Conservatives at the next election, said: "This half term week I’ve heard from quite a few Islanders who’ve expressed frustration that there seems to be a lack of capacity and lack of availability for Multilink and discounted fares.

"One told how he’d tried to book on Monday (February 13) using a Multilink pass, but all the morning crossings were full.

"Instead, he just turned up to find the ferry he wanted was almost empty and he had no problem getting onboard.

"We just can’t live with this uncertainty of not knowing if we can get across to the mainland when we need to.

“I’d really like to know why Wightlink has been running a much smaller ferry - the St Faith - for most of the winter?"