A ferry is a boat or a ship carrying passengers, and possibly their vehicles, on a relatively short-distance, regularly-scheduled service.
Ferries form an important 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.
A foot-passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, is called waterbus.
Longer-run ferries connect many coastal islands with the mainland. Perhaps the most notable ferry route of this sort is the one across the English Channel connecting Great Britain with the rest of Europe, but there are many others. Large ferries also sail in Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. In many ways, these are like cruise ships, but they can also carry hundreds of cars in their car decks.
In Australia, three Spirit of Tasmania ferries carry passengers and vehicles 300km across Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the Australian mainland. These run overnight but also include additional day crossings in peak time. All three ferries are based in the northern Tasmanian port city of Devonport; two ferries travel the route to Melbourne, Victoria, and the third to Sydney, New South Wales.
A large variety of watercraft designs have been used as ferries, depending on the length of the route, the passenger or vehicle capacity required, speed requirements and the water conditions the craft must deal with. Hydrofoils have been used with advantages of higher cruising speeds on popular ferry routes, succeeding hovercraft on the route mentioned above where the ferries now compete against the Le Shuttle and Eurostar trains that use the Channel Tunnel. Very short distances may be operated by a cable ferry, where the ferry is propelled and steered by cables connected to each shore. Sometimes the cable ferry is human powered by someone on the boat. Some cable ferries use the perpendicular force of the current as a source of power. Chain ferries may be used in fast-flowing rivers across short distances.
Free ferries operate in some parts of the world, such as at Woolwich in London, England (across the River Thames) and in Amsterdam, Netherlands (across the IJ waterway).
On October 11, 1811 inventor John Stevens' ship the Juliana, began operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service was between New York, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey).
Reputedly, the world's shortest regular ferry route runs 121 metres across a shipping channel, connecting Toronto City Centre Airport to the mainland.
Two of the world's largest ferry systems are located in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada, and Puget Sound, Washington, United States of America. Each system contains at least 25 ferries, but the two have different styles and operating procedures.
Coin operated cable ferry at Espevær in Bømlo, Norway
Crossing a river as a metaphor for transition is very old. The profession of the ferryman is embodied in Greek mythology as Charon.
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Dan Youra's On Line Ferry Travel Guide
Ferry travel guide to United States, Canada and International ferries.
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A whole site dedicated to ferry companies represented on the web.
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Sea Truk LLC can assist you with your marine construction or island transportation needs.