Mark 3 SR-N4 Hovercraft arriving in Dover on its last commercial flight - 1 October 2000
A ferry is a form of transport, usually a boat or ship, but also other forms, carrying (or ferrying) passengers and sometimes their vehicles. Ferries are also used to transport freight (in lorries and sometimes unpowered freight containers) and even railroad cars. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services. A foot-passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, is sometimes called a waterbus or water taxi.
Ferries form a part of the public transport systems of many waterside cities, allowing direct transit between points at a capital cost much lower than bridges or tunnels.
Types of ferries
Ferry designs depend on the length of the route, the passenger or vehicle capacity required, speed requirements and the water conditions the craft must deal with.
have the advantage of higher cruising speeds, succeeding hovercraft on some English Channel routes where the ferries now compete against the Eurotunnel and Eurostar trains that use the Channel Tunnel. Passenger-only hydrofoils also proved a practical, fast and relatively economical solution in the Canary Islands but were recently replaced by faster catamaran "high speed" ferries that can carry cars. Their replacement by the larger craft is seen by critics as a retrograde step given that the new vessels use much more fuel and foster the inappropriate use of cars. 1 in islands already suffering from the impact of mass tourism.
were developed in the 1960s and 1970s to carry cars. The largest was the massive SRN4 which carried cars in its centre section with ramps at the bow and stern between England and France. It was replaced by catamarans which were nearly as fast and less affected by sea and weather conditions.
are normally associated with high-speed ferry services. Stena Line operates the largest catamarans in the world, the Stena HSS class, between the United Kingdom and mainland Europe or Ireland. These waterjet-powered vessels, displacing 19,638 tonnes, are larger than most catamarans and can accommodate 375 passenger cars and 1,500 passengers.
Along the shore of Brighton there was a "ferry" on rails: Volk's Electric Railway had carriages mounted 100 ft above rails that were under water at high tide. It ran between Brighton and the nearby coastal village of Rottingdean.
Lorries preparing to unload from the Pont-Aven. The Brittany Ferries Flagship.Roll on-roll off ferries (RORO) are large, conventional ferries named for the ease by which vehicles can board and leave.
The Pride of Rotterdam, One of P&O Ferries' Flagships operating the Hull-Rotterdam RouteA cruiseferry is a ship that combines the features of a cruise ship with a RoRo ferry. In many cases the ships generate a large portion of their revenue from cruise passengers.
Fast RoPax Ferry
Fast RoPax ferries
are conventional ferries with a large garage intake and a relatively large passenger capacity, with conventional diesel propulsion and propellers that sail over 25 knots. Pioneering this class of ferries was Attica Group, when it introduced Superfast I between Greece and Italy in 1995 through its subsidiary company Superfast Ferries.
Very short distances may be crossed by a cable or chain ferry, where the ferry is propelled along and steered by cables connected to each shore. Sometimes the cable ferry is human powered by someone on the boat. Reaction ferries are cable ferries that use the perpendicular force of the current as a source of power. Examples of a current propelled ferry are the four Rhine ferries in Basel, Switzerland (see http://www.faehri.ch/). Cable ferries may be used in fast-flowing rivers across short distances. Cable ferries are referred to in Australia and New Zealand as "punts".
Free ferries operate in some parts of the world, such as at Woolwich in London, England (across the River Thames); in Amsterdam, Netherlands (across the IJ waterway); in New York Harbor, connecting Manhattan to Staten Island; and across many lakes in British Columbia. A cable ferry that charges a toll operates on the Riviere des Prairies between Sainte-Dorothee and Ile Bizard in Quebec, Canada.
In the 1950s and 1960s it was travel on an "air ferry" - aeroplanes, often ex-military, specially equipped to take a small number of cars in addition to "foot" passengers. These operated various routes including between the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. Companies operating such services included Corsair.
The term is also applied to any "ferrying" by air, and is commonly used when referring to airborne military operations.
Ferry boats often dock at specialized facilities designed to position the boat for loading and unloading, called a ferry slip. If the ferry transports road vehicles or railway carriages there will usually be an adjustable ramp called an apron that is part of the slip. In other cases, the apron ramp will be a part of the ferry itself, acting as a wave guard when elevated and lowered to meet a fixed ramp at the terminus - a road segment that extends partially underwater.