Maritime Topics
on Stamps:

Ferries !

Ships and boats connecting two ports or shore locations with shuttle traffic are called ferries. They are used on lakes, rivers, seas and in ports, where a land route is longer than the connection over water and/or where no land route exists at all. They are in many cases an alternative to bridges and tunnels, since they are economical.

One can categorize ferries according to their task of transportation:
  • Passenger ferries
  • Car ferries (Ro/Ro)
  • Train ferries
  • Person-and-car ferries (RoPax)
The first ferryman in this world probably punted a raft across a river with a long stake.
first ferryman

row boat
Left: we see a rowing boat ferry of the Bermuda Islands. Rowing boats were used only on short distances. Today even the smallest boat ferries have an outboard motor.
Right: a Chinese river junk is shown. This ship type was also used in ferry traffic.

Ferry navigation was also operated under sail. Left, we see an Arab boat with two latin sails. This could be a ferry from the Orient.
Right, we see the Swedish post office yacht "Hiorten" which sailed regular between Stralsund and Ystad ( see route on the stamp). 1692 the ship was commissioned, 1702 she was announced as missing. In 1998, a replica of the 49 ft sailing ship was provided.

paddle wheeler
One can also sort ferries according to their travel areas: High seas ferries, port ferries, river and lake ferries.
On these two stamps we encounter river ferries. On the left, a small passenger ferry with a stern wheel on the river Congo. On the right, a side-wheel steamer on the Mississippi. These ships were between 200 and 330 feet long and between 32 and 40 ft wide. Because of the sand banks they had a draft of maximum 6 ft.

channel ferries
The ferries on the English Channel connect England with the European continent. One of many routes is the connection between Ostende and Dover. It began in 1846 and celebrated its centennial in 1946. For this reason the three above stamps were issued. Left: we see the steamer "Diamant" (335 BRT), which opened the ferry service in 1846. In the center: the steamer "Marie Henriette" (1,451 BRT), which ran a speed of 22.2 knots. On the right: the "Prince Baudouin" (3,050 BRT), built 1933, the first motor ship among the Channel ferries. She had a speed of 22 knots, max. 25.5kn.

thailand ferry
Kiribati ferry
Left, on the Thai stamp a small passenger ferry from the Far East is shown. On the stamps at right we see two passenger/cargo ferries, already fitted with a bow and/or a stern ramp. These ramps were used for "rolling" cargo (RoRo - roll on roll off). On the Bermuda stamp we see horse carriages, which were replaced later with cars.
St. Georges ferry
At the stern, a person is busy with a rope. There are different types of rope-ferries, which move at a steel cable with winches from shore to shore. Some rope-ferries are placed on rivers diagonally to the current and floated at the rope to the other side. Rope ferries serve only for short distances on rivers or channels.

Laos ferry
Argentina ferry
These two stamps represent double-ended ferries with ramps at the bow and at the stern for loading and discharging. The vehicles can enter and leave the ferry without the need to turn around. The underwater hull structure is identical at bow and stern, likewise the propulsion technology. From one bridge (rarely two) the ship is driven into both directions. Double-ended ferries are mainly used on rivers and lakes.

train ferry
In 1849, the world’s first train ferry boat was built. She was the "Leviathan" and crossed the Firth of Forth. With train ferries one avoided reloading of goods from rail to water routes. Left, on the center section of a souvenir sheet from Sao Tome e Principe we see the first train ferry on Lake Constance, built in 1869. The length amounted to 230 ft, the beam 39 ft; two engines with 100 HP each. In those days these ships looked like platforms with rails.
Right, the ferry boat "Schwerin" is shown, built in 1926. As one can see on the stamp, she had a bow and a stern flap. Modern train ferries take railroad cars on two decks with up to five tracks side by side.

Aaland ferry
train ferry
Left, we see a car ferry, a small truck "rolls" off the ship’s ramp. Car and train ferries have a bow and a stern ramp. Car ferries have several decks with different heights for passenger vehicles, trucks and buses. These ferries did not have a longitudinal bulkhead on the car deck. Any inrush of water poses the risk of capsize. That has already happened during smooth seas with an opened bow ramp. (“Herald of Free Enterprise”,1987. See also "Estonia" further below.)
The right stamp shows loading of a train ferry.

baltic sea ferries
The two above stamps were issued 1979, celebrating 70 years of train ferry service between Sassnitz and Trelleborg. In the center we see the map with the route crossing the Baltic Sea. On the left, the ferry boat "Rostock" (year of construction 1977, 6,111 GRT, 49 railroad cars, 20 trailers), on the right, the "Ruegen" (year of construction 1972, 6,465 GRT, 42 railroad cars, 74 passenger cars). Both ships had two screws and 21 knots speed.

CCCP ferry
Bulgaria ferry
Here we see two railway and cargo ferries with their travel areas on the stamps. On the left, a ship on the Klaipeda to Mukran route. She can carry 108 railroad cars on two decks. Three ships for the German Democratic Republic (Mukran, Greifswald, Wismar) and three for the Soviet Union (Klaipeda, Vilnius, Kaunas) were built, all around 22.400 GRT.
Right, the Bulgarian ferry "Geroite Na Odessa" (9,610 GRT), is in service on the Black Sea.
These ships, which carry also passengers, are called Ro-Pax ships (roll-on/roll-off with passenger cabins).

The stamp and cover show the car and passenger ferry "Romanshorn". She is a double-ended ferry, with 457 tdw, driven by two Voith Schneider propellers and was built in 1958. She can carry 560 persons and 35 cars on Lake Constance.

Danish ferries
On these two stamps we see typical Danish island ferries. Left, the "Bukken Bruse" is shown, on the right the "Ourø". On the "Bukken Bruse" it is recognizable that she has two bridges, one for each driving direction.

Here we see the Polish passenger and car ferry "Wilanow" (4020 BRT) which entered service in 1966 as the Swedish "Kronprins Carl Gustav".
The twin-screw ship ran 19 kn and carried 350 persons in cabins, additionally 400 deck passengers and 150 passenger cars. As seen on the right label, she operates between Swinemuende and Copenhagen.

Time is money, also in the ferry business. Left, we see a speed boat, used as a port ferry. On the right, the catamaran "Condor 10". With catamarans the entire underwater surface is smaller than with a monohull. That means less water resistance and thus faster speed. The 243 ft long "CONDOR 10" was built 1993 at Incat in Tasmania, runs at 37 knots and is able to transport 580 passengers and 80 automobiles. She operates between Jersey / Guernsey and St. Malo.

Both stamps show hydrofoil boats. With the wings’ profile structure the flow laws work the same as with an airplane. Starting from a certain position and speed, a negative pressure is produced,which lifts the boat from the water. So the friction resistance becomes smaller and the boat runs faster.
Left, we see the 1973 built, 95 ft long "Curl Curl" with 32.5 knots. Floating she has a draft of 12 ft while underway just 4.5 ft.
Right, the hydrofoil "Siraly I" of the Russian "Raketa" type , built 1962 and 30.5 kn fast. She raced on the Danube between Budapest and Vienna.

A Hovercraft slides across the water on a compressed air pad. Among its many inventors are the Swede Carl Gustav de Laval (1883) and the Englishman Cristopher S. Cockerill (1950). The largest Hovercraft were 177 ft long, 60kn fast and transported 416 passengers and 55 cars. Until 2000 they were busy as ferries across the English Channel. Left, the British "SR N6", built 1962, ran with 56 kn between Dover and Calais. Right, the "H527 TEJO" serves the route between Hong Kong and Macao.

Color Fantasy 1
Color Fantasy 2
The largest ferry of the world is the Norwegian "Color Fantasy", on duty since December 2004, between Kiel and Oslo. Some data about this luxurious ferry boat: Length 735 ft, beam 115 ft, 74,500 GRT, 42,400 hp, speed 22.1 kn, 15 decks, 2,750 passengers, 750 vehicles. In addition several restaurants, Casino, show lounge, Aqualand (swim paradise), fitness and sauna center, golf simulator, conference center, observation lounge, various bars, night club, duty-free shops, exhibition center, and a 525 ft long ‘Fantasy Promenade’ with pub, bar, cafe, shops, boutiques, and children activity centers.

The "Viking Sally" was built in 1980, she had 15,566 GRT and a capacity for 2000 passengers and 460 cars. Ownership and names changed to "Silja Star" and "Wasa King". 1993 she was taken over by the Estline company and used as "Estonia" on the route between Talinn and Stockholm. During the night of 28th September 1994 the "Estonia" sank in a storm and high seas off the Finnish coast. Only 138 humans were saved, 852 died.
The bow ramp had broken off, water floated into the ship and she capsized. To this day, rumors and assumptions abound related to the cause of the sinking. It appears that many facts were covered up in the official investigations. One hears of an explosion, a bomb, of deleted video tape recordings, of intentional sinking of pins of the bow ramp. However, steel testing in 2001 determined that sandblasting prior to application of anti-corrosive paint causes similar traces as those pointing to explosions.
The overprint on the stamp is an Estonian surcharge "+20 kr Estonia laevahuku ohvrjte fondi", probably to benefit a foundation to assist survivors of the disaster.

This is marginally connected to seafaring --- because the aerial ferry crosses a body of water suspended from ropes underneath a bridge. On this stamp we see the railroad bridge above the Kiel Canal at Rendsburg and underneath, the aerial passenger ferry swings from one side to the other.

© 1998 - 2006 Bjoern Moritz, all rights reserved.

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