A holidaying couple drove 270 miles to catch a cross-Channel ferry to Spain but due to ‘satnav error’ – ended up on a tiny ten-minute commuter boat by mistake.
Confused Bob and Pat Banks had booked themselves on the £100 million Pont Aven from Plymouth to Santander in Northern Spain.
They were due to join 2,400 holidaymakers on the overnight crossing on the huge Brittany Ferries’ flagship.
The couple had made it safely their home in Leeds to Plymouth – and drove straight onto the Torpoint ferry instead which takes just ten minutes to cross the River Tamar.
Bob and Pat quickly realised their mistake – blamed on their satnav – when they found themselves trapped among 70 cars on the local crossing.
And instead of seeing the shores of Spain they were greeted by the sight of Cornwall.
The embarrassed couple, who are in their mid-seventies, explained what had happened to staff on the Torpoint ferry.
They radioed the nearby continental ferry port as they took them straight back to Plymouth on the return crossing.
Bob and Pat, who split their time between Leeds and Alicante, were then fast-tracked onto the right ferry just in the nick of time for their crossing.
Bob said: “We’d had some hold-ups on the drive down and got to Plymouth only 40 minutes before the departure.
“So we were more than relieved when our sat nav announced that we had reached our destination.
“On joining one of the queues we were then ushered on to the ferry.
“When the truth dawned on us we had to accept the worst. It was impossible to drive off – we were jammed in.
“Feeling very embarrassed I got out of the car and explained the situation to the attendant.
“Expecting him to take one look at us and think that we were a couple of confused old codgers, we are in our mid-seventies, I would never have believed the response.”
Bob and Pat were allowed to straight on and off in Cornwall and then taken back to Plymouth where they were let off first.
A Good Samaritan driver then volunteered to guide them the right ferry which they boarded just in time for their 20-hour overnight crossing.
Bob added: “We’ll be forever grateful for the kindness shown by a gentleman in the adjacent queue who we happened to speak to.
“I told him of our hopeless situation and he at once asked if we knew our way to the ferry.
“He said that if we waited for him once we were off then he would lead us there.
“We arrived by the skin of our teeth and were the last car to board.
“Our good Samaritan just turned around and waved to us, not waiting for any thanks for what seemed like a miracle to us.”
The Torpoint ferry is a car and pedestrian ferry connecting Devon to east Cornwall.
The service was established in 1791 and three chain operated ferries costing around #5million each are currently in service.
Each can carry 73 vehicles and operates using its own slipways and parallel chains across the busy River Tamar.
It is dwarfed by the German-built Pont Aven, which has been sailing for Brittany Ferries since March 2004.
It vessel boasts a spa, swimming pool, cinema and luxury boutiques.
Guests stay in in 652 spacious cabins and can unwind in six different bars and restaurants, including a swanky cocktail lounge.
In comparison amenities on the Torpoint Ferry include several slot machines and a vending machine dispensing coffees, teas and chocolate bars.
Torpoint Ferry bosses said they were more than happy to help out Bob and Pat – who were not the first holidaymakers to find themselves on the wrong crossing.
Manager Rod Sugden said: “This is a really good story and it’s good to hear.
“That’s the kind of customer service we push for and I’m glad to hear Bob and Pat had a good experience.
“Believe it or not it’s not the first time, sat navs tend to lead you to the Torpoint ferry rather than the Channel ferry port.”