Maritime Monday for February 6, 2012: Ferry Tales

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 102
February 5, 2012


Hellenistic super-galley c. 1810

Tableau historique des costumes, des moeurs et des usages des principeaux peuples de l’antiquité et du moyen ageWonders: Images of the Ancient World

Salvage work at site of bridge collapse to begin

imageThe Delta Mariner is idle at the US68/KY80 Eggner Ferry Bridge, with two destroyed spans of the bridge draped over her bow, on Kentucky Lake near Golden Pond, Ky., Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. The vessel struck the bridge Thursday night, causing a portion of the bridge to collapse onto the bow. The road that connects Land Between the Lakes and Aurora has been closed. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)



A young Portsmouth woman was so depressed that she decided to end her life by throwing herself into the sea, but just before she could throw herself from the wharf, a handsome young man stopped her.

“You have so much to live for,” said the man. “I’m a sailor, and we are off to Australia tomorrow. I can stow you away on my ship. I’ll take care of you, bring you food every day, and keep you happy.” With nothing to lose, combined with the fact that she had always wanted to go to Australia, the woman accepted.

That night the sailor brought her aboard and hid her in a small but comfortable compartment in the hold. From then on, every night he would bring her three sandwiches, a bottle of red wine, and make love to her until dawn. Two weeks later she was discovered by the captain during a routine inspection.

“What are you doing here?” asked the captain.

“I have an arrangement with one of the sailors,” she replied. “He brings me food and I get a free trip to Australia.”

“I see,” the captain says.

Her conscience got the best of her and she added, “Plus, he’s screwing me.”

“He certainly is,” replied the captain. “This is the Isle of Wight Ferry.”

 Never trust a sailor
image: Multiview postcard Isle of Wight ferries
more Isle of Wight Ferries


L: American President Lines 1948 — RT: Popular Mechanics 1934 : posted by x-ray delta one (Ships Set: 36)




Train Ferries for trade with the Continent
booklet issued jointly by the LNER & SR, c1935

A very rare poster style illustration on this 1930s joint publication issued by the London & North Eastern Railway and the Southern Railway to promote the Harwich – Zeebrugge and Dover – Dunkerque train ferrries. The format and use of Gill Sans typeface marks it down as an LNER production – joint publications between these two railways are not common. –posted by mikeyashworth

The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) was the second-largest of the “Big Four” railway companies created by the Railways Act 1921 in Britain. It existed from 1 January 1923 until nationalisation on 1 January 1948, when it was divided into the new British Railways’ Eastern Region, North Eastern Region and partially the Scottish Region.

Holdings also included:

  • 8 canals, including the Ashton; Chesterfield; Macclesfield; Nottingham & Grantham; Peak Forest
  • Docks and harbours in 20 locations
  • Other wharves, staithes, piers
  • 2 electric tramways
  • 23 hotels
  • A 49% stake in the haulage firm Mutter, Howey & Co. Ltd.

Train Ferry No.1: Built in 1917; Laid up post-war. Requisitioned in 1940 by the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Princess Iris and converted in 1941 to a Landing Craft carrier. scrapped in 1957.


Train Ferry No.2 at Zeebrugge
more info on
Simplon – The Passenger Ship Website

Train Ferry No.2: Built in 1917, Laid up post-war. Requisitioned in 1940 by the Royal Navy. Lost on 13 June 1940 off Saint-Valery-en-Caux, Seine Maritime, France.

Train Ferry No.3: Built in 1917, Laid up post-war. Requisitioned in 1940 by the Royal Navy. Renamed HMS Daffodil and converted in 1941 to a Landing Craft carrier. Lost off Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, on 18 March 1945.


Train Ferry at Harwich, showing crossed-cables between funnels (simplonpc)

train-ferry # 3 steamer leaving Harwich for Zeebrugge; 1928

for more history and a list of ships, see wiki

How often do you get the chance to dive a train ferry that originated in WW1 but which had to wait until WW2 to see military service? Cross the Channel to Dieppe to do just that with JOHN LIDDIARD – illustration by MAX ELLIS: WRECKTOUR:153 HMS Daffodil on DiverNet


THE PUMP CONTROLS AT DOVER operate three sets of centrifugal pumps, which have a maximum capacity of 120,000 gallons a minute. The installation of the pumps was a matter of great difficulty. They had to be placed some distance below extreme low water level. The pumping chamber is 102 feet long and 40 feet wide.

more: DOVER-DUNKIRK TRAIN FERRY on Mike’s Engineering Wonders

Great Britain was the pioneer of this class of vessel, although in past years train ferries have been more common in foreign waters than on British coasts. The first train ferry in the world was the Leviathan, built and engineered on the Clyde by Robert Napier and Sons in 1849, for the Burntisland-Granton service of the old Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway. The Leviathan was an iron paddle steamer of 399 tons gross, 167 feet long and 34 ft. 7 in. in beam.

Special ferry steamers had been built to the order of the Southern Railway Company for this service. There are three of them, sister ships, named after well-known ferries in the Thames Valley. The first to be completed was the Twickenham Ferry which underwent her trials in June 1934. The others, the Hampton Ferry and the Shepperton Ferry, were built soon afterwards. The service, however, was not inaugurated until the autumn of 1936.

more: Twickenham Ferry Museum site


Dover Ferry Photos; TS Twickenham Ferry

In 1934/5 three ships were constructed in Newcastle for the Southern Railway, which wanted to run through trains from London Victoria to the Continent at Dunquerke, the only place on the Continent which had a rail terminal which could accommodate the service. Twickenham Ferry and her sisters were designed to carry rolling stock over the English Channel and each had four tracks in their hulls.

These could carry 12 Wagon-Lits (sleeping cars) or 40 goods wagons, as well as separate passengers quarters for those who required them. There was also space for up to 25 cars in the lower car deck and after some instability on trials, an extra 200 tons of ballast had to be added to each boat, although they still retained a tendancy to roll in a heavy sea, resulting in frequent cancellation.


View from onboard HMS Twickenham Ferry as it unloads at Cherbourg
from World War II European Theater of Operations 1944

Southern Railway poster advertising a new service

imageThe “Night Ferry” was the first, and until the opening of the Channel Tunnel the only, through train from London to Paris. The train was made up of sleeping cars provided by the CIWL (Companie Internationale des Wagon-lits or International Sleeping Car Company) of “Orient Express” fame.

The train used the newly constructed Train Ferry Dock at Dover and one of the three specially constructed train ferries, built by the Southern Railway to ferry the sleeping cars across the Channel to Dunkirk while their occupants (hopefully) slept.


Harwich Train Ferries“When I was master of the train ferry Essex, a motor ship, we left Harwich for Zeebrugge in a NW gale, rolling heavily all the way. Train ferries were very ‘stiff’ to prevent them listing badly, which would have twisted the link span when a full load of trucks came aboard…”  —on SeaBreezes

imageBritish Railways – Sealink

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway; East Coast Services

Railway Shipping Postcards

British Ferry Postcards


Ceremonial launching of Baikal icebreaking train ferry
view from the side: Listvennichnoe village, Irkutsk region, 1905

Trans-Siberian Web Encyclopedia: Photogallery: Museum of Irkutsk-Pass. station history (more)

imageThe Eastern-Siberian Inland Navigation Company (ESINC) is a company which carries out goods and passengers by inland waterways of Irkutsk Oblast and the Buryatia Republic. It is the largest shipping company in Eastern Siberia, the main transportation carrier on Lake Baikal, the Selenga, the Angara River and its tributaries.

In 1918, All ships of private companies were nationalized. One of the prominent revolutionists Lukas Michailovich Vlasov, led the first river transport organization in Eastern Siberia.


SNCF vessel Nord Pas-De-Calais reverses the Train Ferry from Dunkerque into Dover Western Docks in 1988


M/V Schwerin – The ferry, which was also called the Baltic Swan. From Eschenburg Photo Archive

A number of up-to-date vessels have been placed in service by the German State Railway Company for the ferry traffic between Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the newest being the ocean-going ferry steamer Schwerin. This vessel has a displacement of 3,600 tons when fully loaded; her length is 600 meters and breadth about 18 meters. The hull is divided by bulkheads into eleven watertight compartments and is provided with rolling tanks to reduce the pitching and rolling motion when under way. Bow and stern are armored for resisting ice. The ship will be driven by two reciprocating steam engines of an aggregate of 4,500 horsepower, and the four boilers are constructed for oil-firing. The speed is about 16 knots.

The Schwerin is provided with a bow rudder in addition to the stem rudder, for safe steering in the ferry ports. Both rudders are manoeuvred electrically from the bridge. The carriage deck of the Schwerin has rails on either side of the engine shaft, running the whole length of the vessel, and capable of taking seven four-axled passenger (D-Zug) cars or 18 two-axled freight cars. The cars are entirely under cover and are firmly lashed so as to prevent all movement even in the heaviest seas. This is done by means of hinged eye-bolts built into the deck, to which the couplings can be attached. The cars are also secured in a transverse direction by bolts.
–Reprinted from Railway Age, 23 April, 1927



above: K̦nigslinie Sassnitz-Trelleborg Рmore images on Scandlines History page


Bonn–Oberkassel train ferry — Ferry “Sieg” near the Oberkassel bank, in the background are the Siebengebirge mountains. Full resolution‎ (2,277 × 720 pixels) The Bonn–Oberkassel train ferry was a German train ferry operated by the Rhenish Railway Company from 1870 to connect its right and left Rhine railways.


Rheinhausen–Hochfeld train ferry — Train ferry with carriages is in the foreground. Behind is the new railway bridge with a freight train in early January 1874. Behind the bridge are factories in Hochfeld


Greenville Yards, a rail float marine transfer station built between 1899 and 1931 – Jersey City, NJ (see full size)


Rail to Water; Central Michigan University Library

To maintain its extensive network of water transportation the Ann Arbor required a large number of ferry boats. Between 1892 and 1925 the Ann Arbor Railroad built eight ferries which eventually utilized six ports. In the 1950s the Ann Arbor considered constructing new ferries, but the predicted cost led the company to rebuild existing vessels. In 1973 the Ann Arbor defaulted on the loan obtained to reconstruct a ferry, forcing the line into bankruptcy.

ABOVE: The steel-hulled Ann Arbor #4 had more than its share of troubles. In May 1909 the crew incorrectly loaded cars carrying iron ore, causing the vessel to capsize, though it was eventually put back into service. In February 1923 the ship was caught in a huge gale. One of the rail cars broke loose and smashed through the seagate as it fell into the lake. Taking water, the ship miraculously made its way back to Frankfort, sinking alongside the south breakwall of the harbor. The ship was sold in 1937 to the State of Michigan, renamed it the City of Cheboygan and used it as an auto ferry.



Loading train cars on the Chief Wawatam rail ferry


Two Railcar Ferry IceBreakers
Chief Wawatam and the Sainte Marie made many trips across the Straits.

Designed by Frank Kirby and built by Toledo Ship Building Co. of Toledo, OH in 1911, hull # 119. Launched as CHIEF WAWATAM for Mackinac Transportation Co. of St. Ignace, MI for use as a railroad ferry link crossing the Straits of Mackinac. Keel laid on June 1, 1911, launched on August 26, 1911, sailed on maiden voyage October 16, 1911 and arrived at St. Ignace, MI for the first time on October 18, 1911. Dimensions: 351′ 00″ loa x 62′ 00″ beam x 20′ 06″ depth; 2,990 GRT, 1,793 NRT.  Cargo capacity: 22 railcars with a combined weight of up to 2,990 tons. Power: 3 triple expansion engines for a total of  4,500 hp.


Michigan troops on their way to Keweenaw, MI to diffuse a copper miner’s strike in 1913

See the gallery:
Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online; Chief Wawatam 1911 – Current


historic view: rail barge Windsor on (recent photo; at the scrappers)


Southern Pacific Transfer across the Mississippi River, New Orleans, 1920s. Trains crossed the river on ferries and barges until the completion of the Huey P. Long railroad bridge in the 1930s.


Postcard view of the Solano around 1910

A Southern Pacific Railroad ferry boat formerly operated across the 2/3-mile wide Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa in California. The earliest ferry on the route was the “Carquinez,” built in 1854, which was 82 ft. 6 in. long, 24 ft. wide and weighed 102 tons. It was capable of taking two or three freight cars or a couple of passenger cars.

The “Solana” was a large ferry boat built in 1878, big enough to be capable of carrying entire trains. It had two vertical simple condensing beam engines with two cylinders of 3 ft. diameter and 11 ft. stroke. The two paddle-wheels were 34 feet in diameter and each had 24 blades, each of which was 17 ft. long. It was was 464 feet long and 126 feet wide and the cargo deck had 18 ft. 6 in. headroom for trains. Yhere were four parallel lines of track on the cargo deck.

The displacement weight was 3,541 tons, which made it the largest train ferry in the world at the time it was built.

more on John Speller’s Web Pages US Railroads


Scientists to Breach Buried Antarctic Lake, Untouched for Millions of Years

imageAfter two decades of drilling through miles of Antarctic ice, Russian scientists are about to breach an underground lake that has not been exposed to the surface in more than 20 million years. Lake Vostok, as the body of water is called, is part of a chain of more than 200 lakes hidden beneath the ice, some of which were formed when Australia and Antarctica were still connected. Vostok will be the first one of all to be opened when the drill hits water next week.

UPDATE: Missing scientists mystery deepens in frozen Antarctica February 03, 2012

The world holds its breath, hoping for the best after six days of radio silence from Antarctica — where a team of Russian scientists is racing the clock and the oncoming winter to dig to an alien lake far beneath the ice.

UPDATE UPDATE: Fox Flub: Russian Vostok Lake Scientists Safe; February 3, 2012

Fox News reported that the team hadn’t been heard from for more than five days…“What I can tell you is that they are doing something that has never been done before—think of it, sampling a lake under 2.5 miles of ice at a location that is the highest, driest and coldest desert on our planet,” he adds.

imageCoal on The Big Picture

Coal occupies a central position in modern human endeavors. Last year over 7000 megatons were mined worldwide. Powerful, yet dirty and dangerous, use of coal is expanding every year, with 2010 witnessing a production increase of 6.8%. Around 70 countries have recoverable reserves, which some estimates claim will last for over a hundred years at current production levels. Mining for coal is one of the world’s most dangerous jobs.  more

above: A rescuer rests during a break at Sukhodolskaya-Vostochnaya coal mine in Ukraine on July 29, 2011. At least eighteen miners died and another 20 went missing after an explosion in the coal mine


Mitsubishi Dockyard Nagasaki; vintage postcard


Principal U.S. explorers from 1501 to 1844 on Big Map Blog


Gods of the Ancients in Bibliodyssey

‘Images Depicting the Gods of the Ancients’ by Vincenzo Cartari was first published in 1556.

Cartari, of which little else is known other than it was in the service of the house of Este, is known almost exclusively for this work and a versified translation of the Tuscan in meters Fasti of Ovid published in Venice in 1551.

The book is divided into 15 chapters, each of which is one of the main gods and lesser gods and heroes in some way related to it. The subject of each chapter comes from the texts of ancient poets translated by Cartari as Italian poems.



The death of Otis Redding: December 10, 1967, Wisconsin.

The plane, which encountered a storm en route from Cleveland to a concert in Madison, plunged into the frigid depths of Lake Monona. Redding, 26, and four members of his Bar-Kays band were killed.

The crash killed six others, everyone on board except for trumpeter Ben Cauley (bassist James Alexander had luckily avoided the flight altogether). On the cusp of achieving pop superstardom, Redding, best known for his hit, “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” recorded just three days earlier and released after his death, was dead.



Jamie HewlettIllustration for Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach DE Booklet, 2010 (via sailorjunkers)


USS Alabama, WWII pinup art; original pinup artwork still on one of the forward 16 inch gun breeches; photo by divemasterking2000


USNS John Lenthall replenishes USS McFaul and USS James E. WilliamsOfficial U.S. Navy Imagery

Shipwreck may hold $3 bln in platinum, Maine seaman says

image(Reuters) – A Maine seafarer said he had found the wreck of a World War II merchant ship off the Massachusetts coast, sunk while carrying a cargo of the precious metal platinum valued today at nearly $3 billion, an unprecedented find that has raised some doubts.

Greg Brooks of Sub Sea Research in Gorham, Maine, said on Thursday he had discovered the submerged ship in 2008 some 50 miles (80 km) off the Massachusetts coast and, using a remotely run submersible vessel, identified it last summer as the British freighter Port Nicholson



Repair Works of The Moscow Canal Lock


A 9,335 square foot architectural model of the entire New York City

Robert Moses, with the help of around 100 prolific architectural model makers, constructed an incredibly realistic model of all five boroughs in New York City. The model now contains over 895,000 individual structures that makes up every building in the city before 1992.

more on Atlas Obscura


Assembling A Boat Propeller on English Russia


Launching of the RMS Asturias, the largest motor ship, Belfast, 1925

imageThis Asturias, the second Royal Mail Line ship of that name, was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast and launched in 1925. Registered to Royal Mail Meat Transports, Ltd. (a Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. subsidiary), she made her maiden voyage from Southampton to La Plata (River Plate), Argentina, on 26 February 1926. In 1932.

More than one and a half million Britons left for Australia in the quarter century following the Second World War.

The Asturias made 23 trips to Australia between 1946 and 1952, carrying more than 25,000 migrants.  Most of them came under an assisted passage scheme through which adults travelled to Australia for just £10 whilst children travelled free*.  Many children were brought to Australia as ‘orphans’ to find new homes.

Trivia: The Austurius was the ship used for most exterior shots in the filming of A Night to Remember (1958)


postcard on ebay


WWII: A cargo ship gets fitted out for troops

We unloaded our cargo of Rhino pontoons in Southampton. One night while unloading was going on, Scotty, the 3rd mate, who had the watch that night and was also our unofficial ship’s doctor, got word that a wire strap had broken at #2 hatch, and one of these huge pontoons that weighed about a ton each, had fallen on an English longshoreman.

Scotty rushed out on deck with his first-aid kit, took one look at the dead stevedore, and fainted dead away, fell backwards hitting the back of his head on the steel deck with such force that the ambulance took him to a hospital where he had to stay for a week for observation! Needless to say, he took quite a beating from all hands…

keep reading


Summer crowd at Semaphore Beach, 1920Beaches Jetties and Lifesavers set


Tsesarevich: Pre-Revolution Russia, Russian Pacific Fleet Of 1898 – 1905




The splendid cover of a recently acquired 1956 guide to Christchurch (now in Dorset, then in Hampshire).


View of a ship under construction; NY Public Library


Vintage Mermaid Valentine Card

Monkey Fist

Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang.

Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at [email protected]. She can also out-belch any man.

Back to Main