A FUNDRAISING page has been launched to save a town’s historic foot ferry which was severely damaged in gale force winds.

The ten ton, 40-foot boat was secured at her usual mooring at Ha’Penny Pier in Harwich when a storm hit on Friday.

Winds wrenched the ferry from her moorings and cast her adrift with a hole ripped in her side.

Chris and Lucy Zemann, who took over the ferry business in 2015, saving it from closure, were devastated.

Although they were insured, early assessments of the damage suggests there is going to be a major shortfall.

So supporters have launched a Just Giving page in a bid to raise £20,000 to repair the boat.

If the money raised exceeds what is needed to repair the ferry and bring it back into operation, Lucy and Chris have pledged to donate the surplus to the RNLI.

Lucy said: “We have been overwhelmed by the goodwill messages we have received and by the number of people asking how they can donate to support us.

“We want to thank everyone who wants to help get the ferry back in operation. We know it is a huge thing to ask at this time.”

She added: “We are desperate to resume our ferry operation next season, save our livelihood and continue to serve the communities of Harwich, Shotley and Felixstowe, but we need support.”

The ferry, which was previously a lifeboat on the SS Canberra, is a century old and the service will only be viable if she can be repaired.

Alex Sharratt, Chris’ brother-in-law, set up the fundraising page yesterday.

He said: “Over the course of Friday night, the boat took a real pounding from the wind.

“Chris wanted to move it but it was too rough to get onboard.”

Lucy and Chris could only stand and watch as their beloved vessel was cast adrift.

The ferry took on a lot of water and was half submerged, but a boat from the Harwich Haven Authority was able to tow her to a safe haven.

She didn’t capsize and is still afloat in the harbour master’s jetty.

Mr Sharratt said it has been a difficult year for Chris and Lucy due to the Covid-19 pandemic impacting their business.

He said: “They reopened the service in June, but it’s been a difficult season.

“They were just starting to get back on their feet, then this happened.”

The ferry has served the community for more than 100 years, connecting families and businesses and delighting tourists who wanted to cross the busy harbour.

So far more than £170 has been donated on the Just Giving page for the ferry.

To visit the boat’s online fundraising page, or donate, go to bit.ly/3ibvuiA.