Sunday, May 5, 2013

Our "Journey" Across Open Water

"So you're going to take the ferry and avoid all the traffic around Houston," commented a fellow RV'er after learning we were headed to Lafayette, LA, from Galveston.

Hearing the phrase "avoid the traffic around Houston" was enough to pique my interest in any alternate route. "What ferry?" was my response, not wanting to sound desperate for a solution to my unasked question on how to avoid Houston.

The answer: The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry, the bridge between two segments of State Highway 87. (The first regularly scheduled ferry service had been established In 1929 by a privately owned company.)

Now when I hear about the possibility of a ferry, I think about the challenge of towing the RV into a small lane on a ferry and the challenge of making turns in a small place. So, our trip to the Rookery at High Island (see the entry two days ago) had the secondary benefit of serving as a dry run to identify the loading procedures and the space on the ferry for our truck and RV.
Any concerns I may have had quickly vanished.

The ferry operation consists of five boats, four of which, including the Robert H. Dedman, are named after former Texas Transportation Commission members. Each of which can carry approximately 70 vehicles, 500 passengers and six crew members. Each ferry is capable of carrying eight 18-wheel trucks weighing 80,000 pounds each. All of the boats are double-ended with a pilothouse on each end, and the Captain changes from one pilothouse to the other to go in the opposite direction.
The 2.7 mile trip takes approximately 18 minutes to cross one of the busiest waterways in the world.
Through the Bolivar Roads Channel flows the commerce of the Port of Houston, the nation's largest inland port, as well as other Galveston and Trinity Bay communities. Approximately 7,000 ships visit the Port of Houston each year.
Once we leave the dock, we are able to leave our cars and walk around the deck, giving us an opportunity to photograph the activity on the Gulf. There is also a good amount of barge traffic and
more than a few shrimp boats along this waterway.
And there are a number of smaller travelers that we encountered along the way--the occasional bunch of porpoises (that I missed photographing) jumping ahead of the boat, a lone pelican or two, and

a number of gulls who hover off the stern waiting for scraps of bread (note one lucky gull in the upper left quadrant of the photo below)
and other gulls who seem to be taking time to "converse."

And the short walk around the deck brought us into contact with some other interesting travelers. Note the "Just Married Honk if you ♥ the bride" message.
Then there's the bikes and
bikers with the Dust Devils Dubai, UAE insignia.
After the short trip, we easily completed our part of the crossing--the "drive-on, drive-off".
And the ferry ride was FREE.

We then headed toward our next adventure.

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