Tuesday, January 5, 2010


After reading the Comments following
my post last Saturday, Landlubber Lewis asks: "What exactly is a ferry, anyway?" A ferry, or ferry boat, is a vessel that makes (usually) regular, frequent runs across a body of water, transporting people, vehicles and even goods. Ferries go back to our first ancestors who found a particularly good place to cross a stream by floating on a log. The ancient Greeks believed that souls were transported into the underworld by a ferry run by Charon, who demanded payment for his services. This story may be the origin of the tradition of placing coins on a dead person's eyelids, or in his mouth.

Oldest. The oldest operating ferry service in the world may be the Mersey Ferries service between Birkenhead, England and Liverpool, which may have been in operation since 1207.

Busiest. The English Channel is one of the busiest waterways in the world (more than 400 ships a day pass through it) and includes a dozen separate ferry routes. Some ferries are devoted exclusively to trucks hauling cargo. Hong Kong's Star Ferry and New York's Staten Island Ferry both carry more than 70,000 passengers a day, making them the busiest passenger ferries in the world.

Smallest. The smallest dedicated ferry in the world may be on a tributary of the Li River near Yangshuo, China. The boat carries two people and one bicycle across the river near a small dam at times when the water is too high to walk across. The shortest regular run for a ferry is 110 yards, served by the Elwell Ferry over the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

Largest. The largest car ferry (in terms of vehicles carried) is the Ulysses (pictured above), operated by the Irish Ferries. She can carry 1,342 cars, 240 tucks, and has staterooms for 228 passengers. The world's largest ferry system is operated by the province of British Columbia, which operates 36 vessels among 47 ports between Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

Fastest. The 65-meter Hormuz, operated by the Sultanate of Oman, reached a speed of 56 knots in July 2008, making it the fastest diesel-powered ferry in the world.

Worst Ferry Disaster. The M/V Doña Paz collided with the tanker Vector in the Philippines in December 1987. The resulting fire and sinking killed 4,341 people (nearly three times the death toll of the Titanic disaster). Other notable ferry disasters include:
Le Joola, September 2002, 1,800 dead
Toya Maru, September 1954, 1,153 dead
Al Salaam Boccaccio, February 2006, more than 1,000 dead
MS Estonia, September 1994, nearly 1,000 dead
MV Bukoba, May 1996, about 800 people dead (estimated)
MV Salahuddin-2, May 2002, more than 450 people dead
MV Nasrin-1, July 2003, more than 400 dead
MS Herald of Free Enterprise, March 1987, 193 dead

No comments:

Post a Comment