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Ryan and the Boats is the twenty-third story of the first volume.

Ryan and the Boats
Season X, Episode 23
Air date 27 November 2019
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Jessie and the Frozen Points
Emily and Molly


Arlesburgh Harbour is a busy place. Every day, ships arrive bringing goods for the Island of Sodor. People also arrive here so the engines are kept busy taking them where they need to go.

But the thing that fascinated Ryan most of all was the fleet of boats at the Harbour.

"They look amazing," Ryan told Daisy one night. "And they can go anywhere there's water. Two-thirds of the world is water. Imagine all the places you could travel."

"You're quite imaginative," smiled Daisy. "But remember, our rails can take us to places that boats can't."

"I suppose you're right. Still, they look wonderful."

The two engines soon fell asleep.

The next morning, Ryan was passing through the Harbour when he caught sight of a boat. But strangest of all, it was on the rails!

"What was that?" he asked his Driver.


"I've just seen a boat on the railway line."

"Don't be daft. Boats don't have wheels. They can't run on rails."

"Maybe it was just a boat being lifted into the water then."

"Probably," agreed the Driver.

Later that day, he stopped at the Harbour when he saw a sign.

"'Skiff's Rail-boat Tours,' what is that?"

"Search me," replied the Driver.

That night, at the Sheds, Ryan told Daisy what he had saw.

"That," explained Daisy, "is Skiff."

"Skiff? Who is he?"

"Well, believe it or not, he's a boat that can run on rails!"


"Well, I haven't met him yet. But I've been taking passengers to the Harbour. He gives tours around Arlesburgh."

"Is that allowed?"

"I suppose the Fat Controller's agreed."

Ryan was intrigued.

The following day, he was at Tidmouth when the Fat Controller came up.

"Seems like we need an extra train to Arlesburgh. Ryan, you're in steam so you can handle that. Jessie will take over your goods duties."

Ryan fetched his coaches and started for the Station.

The journey gave no trouble at all and they soon reached Arlesburgh.

"Thanks for bringing more passengers," called Bert.

"We have so many, Mike will have to pull passengers," chuckled Rex.

"I most certainly will not!" scowled Mike. "Jock can do it, he's popular."

"But Mike," replied Rex sympathetically, "you're popular too."

Mike just groaned.

"All right, get back to work now," called Frank. "I know it's adorable teasing Mike but we've jobs to do and so does Ryan."

Ryan went along to the Harbour.

He had changed track, ready to head back to Station, when a boat pulled up alongside him.

"Ah!" he cried. "Why are you on the rails?"

"Don't worry," laughed the boat. "I have a set of wheels, pretty clever if I do say so myself."

"That's how you run on rails then."

"Yes. I'm Skiff and this is my Captain, Joe."

"I'm Ryan."

"Hullo Ryan. Thanks for bringing these people. Arlesburgh is a lovely place. Big ships, small ships, engines and sandy beaches all await," said Captain Joe. "Now, I've got to get the life-jackets."

"Well that's innovative."

"The Fat Controller's always looking for ways to keep the railway running," said Skiff. "Think about it, the more passengers coming here, means more income for the railway."

Ryan was impressed. "But how do you move along?"

"The wind does it all! I've got an anchor to hold me back and a paddle and sail to change direction in the water," explained Skiff.

"And that way, you can run on rails and sail in the water."


"Do you like running on rails?"

"It's a nice change, even if you big engines could easily knock me about!"

"I won't!"

"I still have to take caution though, and my passengers must wear life-jackets for when we enter the water."

"Is there a limited capacity?"

"Yes, only four to six people at a time."

Just then, all the passengers had finished putting on their life-jackets.

"We'll be off soon, Skiff," called Captain Joe.

"All right then. See you later, Ryan!" said Skiff.

"Later! We've lots of passengers every day so I expect you'll be very busy."

"Sounds fine."

Soon, Skiff was away. Ryan watched as Skiff entered the water and was soon sailing around the Harbour.

"It must be wonderful to sail in the sea," sighed Ryan.

"Yes," agreed his Driver, "but then, you'd miss out on the fun on the rails and you wouldn't be able to see Daisy."

"I know."

"So, let's get back to work, shall we."

Ryan set off to collect some trucks of ballast.

A few days later, Ryan was at the Harbour delivering a goods train. He shunted his trucks then went into a siding near the Lighthouse where Skiff was also resting.

"Doesn't the sea look marvellous?" observed Ryan.

"Yes indeed," agreed Skiff. "You know, I would like to sail out even further sometimes."

"Why can't you?"

"It isn't safe for a boat of my size."

"Never mind. You give tours of the Harbour on both rail and sea. That's something to be proud of."

Skiff still felt a bit down.

Ryan looked towards the sea. He thought he saw a shape in the water.

"Hey, I can see something."

"What is it?"

"I'm not sure."

Skiff looked closely and saw the shape.

"Hmm, I better ask Captain Joe to take a better look." He called up to the Lighthouse. "Captain!"

Joe came rushing out. "What's the matter Skiff?"

"There's something out there."

"Might be just an animal, but I'll double-check."

Captain Joe looked closer and was surprised to see that it was a boat!

"Looks like they're in trouble," he thought.

He hurried down to Skiff.

"Let's go Skiff!"

"What's the occasion?"

"That object is a boat and it looks like they're stranded."

"Go and rescue them Skiff!" cheered Ryan.

Skiff raced into the water and was soon sailing towards the boat.

There were four people on the boat who were delighted to see Skiff.

"Thank goodness you've come. We thought we'd be stuck here!"

"No problem," replied Skiff.

"Now, women and children first."

The man helped his wife and children onto Skiff, then he climbed into the Skiff.

"Life-jackets, check," observed Captain Joe. "All right, let's head back to the Harbour."

"Good thing you weren't too far away from the Harbour," said Skiff.

Ryan was just about to leave when he saw Skiff return.

"Everyone's here. Safe and sound."

"Good job, Skiff!"

"Thanks, Ryan."

"I've got to go to Harwick. I'll see you later."

Ryan puffed away.

Skiff was very proud with himself.

The next day, Ryan and Skiff met up again.

"You had a nice adventure," said Ryan.

"Indeed. It feels good to be useful."

"Now you're a rescue boat as well."

"I guess I am!"

"Well, keep up the good work since it seems your tours are becoming more popular every day."

"You'd better take care with those trucks too."

"I will!"

"All right then. See you later."

"Later then!"

Ryan whistled goodbye then the two friends went back to work.




  • This episode was originally meant for release in September alongside Coal Strike but not completely finished at the time. Due to the schedule for October being full, the episode was postponed till November. The Trouble with the Enthusiasts was released instead in September alongside Coal Strike. The concept for this episode was conceived late 2017.
  • This counts as Skiff and Captain Joe's formal introduction to the series.