Yes Virginia, We Carry 18 Wheelers
In any one day , 90%+ of all vehicles getting on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry have the standard four wheels and range from Mini-Coopers to mini-vans. But, almost weekly, a much larger vehicle can be seen boarding. It's the Lorric Auto Transport tractor trailer out of Newtonville, NJ. The vehicle is an 18-wheeler in its own right, but most often is spotted carrying an additional 6-8 cars behind.
Richard Schmidt is the veteran driver who's been doing this type of work for almost 30 years. Almost weekly he carries vehicles traded in at Burke Auto in South Jersey to car auctions in Virginia. It takes a unique driving skill, and Schmidt has encountered almost any situation, including a few no one wants repeated.
Whereas most Ferry travelers check the schedule for the most convenient sailing, Schmidt checks the tides. He'll take whichever departure is leaving at lowest tide in Cape May when he has a full load. The low tide helps him have a less steep ramp climb getting on to the boat. This day in February, he was traveling at mid-tide -- and didn't have any worries. It's only true high tide he likes to avoid.
Most crossings are happily event free. However, January 2018 provided a new challenge for both Schmidt and the Ferry crew. After the boat was fully loaded, the Captain uncovered a minor switch problem in the wheel house, but it was enough for him to call a time out for that sailing. The second boat was pulled out of dock to the first pier and all cars were asked to off load by backing up back on to the staging lanes.
The crew were worried about Schmidt's long vehicle, but he didn't blink an eye. "I can go backwards as easily as forward," he noted having done it for so many years. And, he did!
Loric Transport is one of many commercial carriers who regularly take the Ferry to shorten their road trips and give drivers a rest on long hauls. In any one week furniture retailers, moving companies, fisheries, and clam and oyster shell services take the Ferry between locations on both sides of the bay. Frequent traveller commercial accounts generally sail with contracted rates tied to business invoicing services handled through special arrangements negotiated with our Customer Service team. If you have a commercial vehicle and want to learn more, call our Customer Service Manager Terry Anstead at 800-643-3779.