THOUSANDS of Brits were left fuming on Saturday after missing the last ferries out of France before the new 14-day quarantine rule came into force.
One group managed to charter a fishing boat to get home as massive tailbacks formed heading to the Channel Tunnel and the ferry ports.
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But another family missed the 4am deadline as they were refused entry to a boat because their dog’s passport had the wrong stamp.
Some 160,000 Brits attempted the last-minute return because France had been taken off the UK Government’s safe list following a spike in coronavirus cases there.
But many were left stranded as tickets home quickly sold out or rocketed in price.
The ferry due to leave Calais at 3.30am, French time, was delayed by 45 minutes, meaning unlucky travellers will now have to isolate.
The last ferries to arrive back in Dover on time had left on schedule an hour earlier at 2.30am.
Some of those desperate to make the dash home drove hundreds of miles and even left children behind.
Officials at the port had to bring in extra security staff to cope with the demand.
One source said: “Traffic levels are far higher than usual. There has been a lot of upset and anger from those missing out.”
Flights from France to the UK were reported to have sold out within hours of Thursday evening’s quarantine announcement.
Channel Tunnel operator Getlink reported 12,000 rebooking attempts to beat the deadline.
Eurotunnel booking staff had been besieged with 3,000 calls at one point while there were 8,000 online searches for P&O Ferries on Friday alone.
The Chlebiej family, from Coventry, missed the chance to avoid quarantine because of vet’s error.
They gave a worm-treatment pill to their dog Cassie on Thursday, so they could travel home 24 to 48 hours later.
But an inaccurate certificate from the vet in Poland, where they were visiting family, meant they were turned away by authorities in France and now face two weeks indoors.
The Chlebiejs were originally booked on a 8.30am crossing on Saturday. But they spent £300 booking a 2.30am crossing from Dunkirk once they heard the quarantine news — and drove for 20 hours to reach northern France.
Had it gone to plan, they would have been back in England one hour before the cut-off but were scuppered by Cassie’s documents.
Engineer Thomas Chlebiej, 49, said: “I’m fuming. I have to be at work on Monday but now I have to quarantine. It’s so wrong.”
Son Jakub, 18, starting university later this month, said: “It’s a massive inconvenience. My parents have jobs where they can’t work from home. It’s shocking.”
Simon Parkinson, 40, left Calais to Dover on a ferry on Saturday and was gutted he must now isolate. The car salesman said: “I tried on Friday with no joy. When I saw all the chaos, I thought I’d leave it and come back today. I’ve accepted it — but it’s very frustrating.”
Yet one story of success came from the Dunedin Consort — a musical ensemble from Scotland.
They revealed on Twitter: “Au revoir France. As exits from concerts go, this one is quite unique.
“We’re sailing back to the UK on a fishing boat overnight to beat the quarantine.”
Couple Matt Barlow and Nicola Booth were due on the 3.30am delayed ferry after cutting short their holiday but scrambled on to an earlier one to get them into the UK just in time.
The university lecturer, 43, said: “It has been organised poorly. We should have got more time.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and wife Christine were among those who also made it back after cutting short their holiday at Antibes in the south of France.
On Saturday, there were some queues to get back into the UK at the ferry ports but nothing compared with Friday’s mayhem.
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