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Wdobner 10-15-2003 11:50 PM

Double-ended Ferries, Which end is front?
I don''t really know where to ask this, this messageboard might not even be right for it, however if you''ll bear with me please:

In light of the dock bashing by the Andrew Barbieri several people on a railroad/transit oriented messageboard,''s Subtalk, were asking which end is the front end of a Double-Ended ferry. I grew up in Seattle around Washington State Ferries, yet I never thought to ask myself that question.

Perhaps you can help me out, is there any differance between the one end of the boat an another end? One example a poster on the rail board used was a subway car, it''s got cabs at both ends, and can travel in both directions, but you''ll only find the Air Brake handle at the A end, thereby making that the ''front'' end. Is there anything similar on a Double-Ended Ferry? Would the Captain know which end was toward the bow, or would the boat''s front end be defined by the direction of travel. To complicate things, the Barbieri class uses Voith-Schneider Cycloidal propellors, and, IIRC, even when placed in tandem, both operate throughout the cruise of the boat, so you can''t even say that the end of the boat powering the ferry is the stern.

Anyway, hopefully it''s not too rhetorical a question, and thanks in advance for any and all answers.

928frenzy 10-16-2003 04:46 AM

Double-ended Ferries, Which end is front?
The front is where the pilot/Capt. is facing as he/she docks. The ferries used in NYC are real double enders. The ferry goes directly from one dock to the next without turning.

Each end has a rudder and propellers. Each side of the boat has green and red lights. In the forward direction, green is on the right side, and red is on the left.

I know this cause I used to drive past the dry dock where they went for repairs. ;^)

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~

Magic_Moments 10-16-2003 06:00 PM

Double-ended Ferries, Which end is front?
Washington State Ferries have a pilothouse at each end, so when the boat is ready to leave the dock, the crew moves to the new front of the boat. Sometimes they do turn around or back in, but that is because they loaded cars at the end of the load that need to be offloaded first. That mostly happens on Lopez, Shaw, and Orcas islands and sometimes on Vashon island. Most of the routes are point A to point B though.

It was interesting to learn that the pilot of the crashed boat in NY may have been alone in the pilothouse. I would have assumed at least two or three people to always be on watch especially in a high traffic area such as New York Harbor.

WSF boats travel around 12 knots and last month two ferries came within 400 yards on a collision course just off the Seattle docks in heavy fog with their radar operating before they stopped and manuevered to avoid collision.

Check out the WSF website for more info..

I copied the following from the website.

In the fleet, the Captain (or Master) supervises the entire ship''s operation from the pilothouse, which is the communications and navigation center of the ship. The Chief Mate assists the Captain with the operation of the vessel, often including loading and unloading operations. Except when docking or in tight quarters, the steering of the ship is generally left to the quartermaster who follows the directions of the bridge officer. Able-bodied Seamen (AB) and Ordinary Seamen (OS) work as deckhands, directing vehicles, securing lines when the ship docks, acting as lookouts, patrolling the vessel for safety hazards, and cleaning the vessel.

Beneath the car deck, the engine room and control center are supervised by the Chief Engineer, who oversees repairs and maintenance to the vessel''s mechanical and electrical equipment. The Chief Engineer and the Assistant Engineer also monitor all the control systems and in some instances, control the speed and direction of the vessel, following the Captain''s commands. The Oiler assists the Engineers by circulating through all the machinery spaces, ensuring that everything is operating correctly.


tager 04-06-2009 04:41 PM

i was born on one
m v illahee! August 13 1987

Hesper 04-06-2009 04:55 PM

Look for the bow wave - that's the front.

peikenberry 04-06-2009 08:11 PM

I was stationed at Governor's Is. NY on the Coast Guard Base and got to know the Ferry Boat crews very well. I was even allowed to take the boat across several times. ( Of course the captain was looking over my shoulder) As was said they switch ends, so which is front depends entirely on which way it's going. In fact they lock the rudder and prop on the "front end" and then switch at the dock and lock the rudder and prop at the other end. Each pilot house has a complete set of controls and so where the Captain is the front end.

bubb2 04-06-2009 08:49 PM

Good question, If you look at the ferry one would think that lettering would give you indication of which end it the real "bow".

But then again the lettering would be just the opposite on the starboard side!:D

Boasun 04-07-2009 05:12 PM

Check the numbering of the Life rafts/boats... Odd to starboard and Even to Port. This will point the way toward the actual bow of the double ended ferry. The numbering of the compartments will help here also, using the above system of Odd to stbd and Even to port.

blt2ski 04-07-2009 05:16 PM

Here in Washington, the ends have an A or B end. The marker lights get switched around based on which direction the boat is going. I would assume that the A end is the presumed bow per say, the B the aft. But when they probably spend half the time going A end first, the other half B end first..........does this argument really have any meaning?

My 02 for what little it is worth these days!:d


Moonfish 04-08-2009 11:13 AM

On the Washington State Ferries I've been on (mostly on the Anacortes-San Juans route), they are marked "No. 1 End" and "No. 2 End" in various places on the vessel.

And, no, that does not describe the heads and their use...

For anyone interested, we did a video story on the recent first sailing of the year of the WSF ferry that connects the US and Canada. It's for our web site up here that is dedicated to the San Juan Islands. That's my wife on camera... :)

<object height="360" width="580">

<embed src=" 2=0xfebd01&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" height="360" width="580"></object>

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