An oversized amphibious vehicle made for an unusual sight on Cornwall’s roads recently as it made the 22-mile journey on a specialist lorry from Falmouth to Marazion after undergoing a major refit in the Cornish port.
The St Michael, a Sealander 32 amphibious vehicle that is as happy on land as it is on water, is more commonly found making light work of the half-mile journey through the waves from St Michael’s Mount to Marazion beach.
It provides a transport lifeline to the 30 residents of St Michael’s Mount during the winter months when the Marazion to St Michael’s Mount duty boat service is not possible to operate. It ferries the residents and staff, including taking the island children to school and brings provisions from the mainland.
Originally built in Falmouth and launched in 2003, the versatile twin-engine amphibious vehicle measures 11.5 metres in length and has a beam (width) of 4.7 metres. It can carry 38 passengers or up to 1,000kg of cargo.
The St Michael was specifically commissioned by Lord St Levan and is the latest in the line of amphibious vehicles that have served the island and its resident since the 1950s.
The acquisition of the first amphibious vehicle, a World War Two DUKW, came after the then Lord St Levan witnessed these vehicles transporting scrap from the grounded HMS Warspite from the sea just off the island. Several other amphibious vehicles were used in the intervening years to connect the island to the mainland until the St Michael took over the role 19 years ago.
The major overhaul by A&P Falmouth will enable the vehicle to continue to undertake its vital role in connecting the island community. It re-entered service after some final maintenance touches were undertaken after arriving back at Marazion.
The St Michael’s most notable passengers to date were Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh when they visited the iconic Cornish landmark in 2013.