September 4, 2020
Ferry Facts: Water Rescues
We like to concentrate on the use of ferries during good times --vacations and fun day trips -- but, inevitably mishaps can occur. When they do, ferries play an important role helping Coast Guard and other emergency service personnel in water rescues. Here are a few of the more recent industry stories and some older CMLF stories that give a broader view of ferries in the maritime system.
A Ferry Wild Season
This past summer has been a busy one for Ferry rescues around the world, with six making the newswires and one involving the Cape Henlopen!
The Unicorn Heard Around the Word
Due to the size of the vessel - able to hold 300 cars and 500 passengers - the maneuvering was risky. The captain had to get close enough for the crew to reach the child while keeping the waters calm in order not to topple the float or have it engage with the backwash of the ship's engine. To read more, see a picture of the ferry, and get a link to the video of the rescue, click this link in Maritime Executive.
Not Our Cape Henlopen
The crew aboard our original Cape Henlopen, now with Cross Sound Ferries, was recognized on August 14 by the Coast Guard for a rescue of five people on a 30-ft. power boat. On July 19, the ferry was making its last trip from Orient Point, NY to New London, CT, when the crew noticed a flashing light across the water. The Captain advised passengers the ferry was making a detour.
Within 15 minutes of arriving on the scene, the Ferry took on five unexpected passengers from the damaged boat as the regular paying passengers cheered.
To read more about our first Cape Henlopen and how it came to the Cross Island system, check this article on Henlopen History.
Closer to Home
On August 17, NY Waterway en route to Hoboken rescued a man adrift in the Hudson River. NY Waterway holds the record for the most people rescued -- 300 in the last 33 years -- with 143 of them from the US Airways 1549 emergency landing in the Hudson that made Airline Captain Chesley Sullenberger a household name. It is considered the most successful marine rescue in Aviation history!
There are too many August tales to tell in one short newsletter, so here are the links to more Ferry dramatic stories.
August 31 - Paddleboarders Saved by Broughty Ferry, UK
August 20 - Plum Island & Cross Sound Ferries respond to Surf Fisherman Distress Call, Long Island
August 10 - Paddleboarder Swept into Cook Strait Ferries Path, NZ
July 26 - Fire Island Ferry Saves Six in Distress
Historical CMLF RescuesOn Memorial Day 1990, the MS Regent Star (shown above), operated by now defunct Regency Cruises, was heading to New York to start operations on the East Coast. She ran aground 25 miles up the Delaware River and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry was called to assist. The M/V Delaware, under the direction of our first master Captain Billy Ray Phillips, manuevered along the Regent Star's port side to unload all passengers and their belongings.
The Sankaty Assist
It's not often we see a ferry in the Delaware Bay that isn't one of ours, but that's what happened in February 2006 when the Sankaty out of Woodshole, MA ran into unexpected trouble. The ferry was likely en route to VA shipyards for off-season repairs, similar to how we now take our ferries north.
As they reached the mouth of the bay, the Sankaty broke down. Now retired Rich Gregory took the M/V American River, a crewboat used at the time for crew transports, to assist. Parts were brought back to our maintenance shop where John Altieri (l) and Don Miller (r) did some welding magic and made the necessary pipe repairs to get the Sankaty back underway.
And then, the Rabbit
Captain Vance calls this tale "The time we saved the dog, but lost the rabbit."
A VW rabbit was parked on our car deck in front of a truck. The truck's air brakes beld from a leak causing the truck to roll forward and push the car over the side. If that weren't dramatic enough, the owner's dog was in the car! The ferry crew sprang into action to save the dog, but sadly the water logged rabbit was considered DOA. Good news: Today, truck brakes have been updated so if air bleeds off, the brakes remain set in place.
Favorite Types of Rescues
Of all rescues undertaken by the CMLF, perhaps our favorite are those that don't involve vessels or cars at all! For stories on some of our marine mammal rescue efforts, click on these links:
Silly Silica. These days we all are getting more package deliveries many with small silica gel packs inside to absorb moisture. Turns out, these packets can be reused and recharged to provide moisture absorbancy for homes and cars in many ways. If put on windshields, they can help with humidity buildup on the glass, or if put in with stored packets of seeds, they can help stop mold growing and save the seeds for spring plantings. Here's a short article with more on silica reuse.