Ferries: why aren’t there more of them?

Trip update. Last Sunday, I rode out to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme to sing with the choir for the last time. We celebrated my brother William’s birthday that day with steak and cake. 2014-06-23 detailed bikeMonday, I rode to Niantic, where Shawn at Niantic Bay Bicycles detailed my bicycle, and cleaned the chain. It looked like new!

Tuesday, I rode to Andover, Connecticut, where I have been staying with my sister Louise, brother Bob and nephew Michael. Except for one stormy night, the weather has been ideal for cycling, a pleasant mix of overcast and bright sun. I also met my cousins Peter and Gwyn, who live in nearby Hebron, with their small children, Luther, Calliope, and Vivian.
I found out that Michael had not learned to ride a bicycle in his first nine years. His friends and neighbors don’t ride either. Andover is a collection of hilly, winding, country roads with no shoulders. 2014-06-26 Mike bikeOn Thursday, Michael and I finished assembling his bicycle, and I took him out in the driveway for his first lessons. He is a quick study, and is already looking forward to going to the school basketball court and parking lot to practice this weekend.
Today, we are on our way to Walden, New York, for my mother’s 87th birthday.
June is almost over, and soon I will be heading North through the rest of New England. Before that, I have a large translation assignment to complete and a seminar on revision to facilitate in Virginia. I will be interrupting the Northern Trek for 10 days to take the train down there and back.

One thing that I have discovered in bicycling up and down the East Coast of the United States is that there are not enough ferries. In an age of high-speed travel, Americans have almost forgotten what it was like to shorten a trip up our winding coastlines by taking ferries across the inlets and rivers. On a bicycle, I have discovered that there is almost nothing more pleasant than to interrupt the day with a boat ride. This is particularly true when the boat ride saves you a 100-km detour.
Consider the traffic around metropolitan New York City. Sea StreakThe Sea Streak ferries from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, to the South Street pier on Manhattan are catamarans, which make the crossing in just 38 minutes. Why anyone would sit in the Holland Tunnel every day is beyond me.
There are ferries from most points on both sides of the Hudson and East Rivers, which run on schedules that are as convenient as buses. I was able to travel from Highland, New Jersey, to Brooklyn, New York in less than an hour, including waiting for the East River Ferry. It would have taken me three days to ride from Highlands to Long Island.
As I laid out my route for the Northern Trek, I noticed that to go around the many inlets of Massachusetts, Maine and New Brunswick, I have a choice of riding many extra miles along the coastline or tackling very hilly country farther inland.

Deer Island, NB

Deer Island, NB

However, there are at least three ferries in New Brunswick, which I hope to use for island-hopping back to the United States. It should be both pleasant and efficient.
It is too bad that everybody is in such a hurry. It would be even better than the Greyhound jingle (“leave the driving to us”), if we could enjoy a short cruise from one city to the next.
I wish there were more ferries.
Where is the nearest ferry to where you live?

The next sea story will take us to Hawaii. Meanwhile, I wish my American readers a Happy Independence Day and to everyone,
Smooth roads and tailwinds,
Jonathan

2 thoughts on “Ferries: why aren’t there more of them?

  1. We had a ferry from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island (PEI). It was slow, but always packed. A bridge was built, but was very unsafe for truckers in high winds. (They could be held back on the island for hours.) The bridge hurt island businesses that relied on overnight stays. It was also the catalyst for many small businesses going under, due to the establishment of larger stores (e.g., Walmart) that could now access the island. Always plusses and minuses…

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