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Dartmouth Higher Ferry - A First Look At The New Vessel

Photographs © John H. Luxton 2009

The new Dartmouth HIGHER FERRY on August 12, 2009. The new vessel built jointly by Ravestein and Pendennis Shipyard entered service in July 2009. The new HIGHER FERRY carries up to 32 cars and buses, coaches and freight vehicles up to 16 tons. The passenger capacity is 250.

Crossing time is reduced to 3 minutes compared to it's predecessor's 5 minutes and the vessel is exceptionally quiet - making something akin to a low whining sound rather than the traditional sound of its 49 year old predecessor's paddle wheels. Passenger accommodation is provided on the down stream side of the vessel and is limited to a railed off area of the main deck and a shelter. There is no seating and now passenger access to the upper deck area which basically comprises the wheelhouse.

Propulsion on the new vessel is provided by a pair of hydraulically driven ‘bull wheels’ powered by on each side of the vessel, which pull the ferry along two steel wires anchored to each side of the river. These 'bull wheels' are powered by Scania DI 1262EM engines which have low fuel consumption and low carbon emissions. Only one engine is normally in use. HIGHER FERRY is also equipped with four thrusters to aid positioning on the slipways and for use in strong tidal and wind conditions.


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