A ferry is a boat or a ship that carries passengers over a short distance.
Some ferries also carry cars and trucks.
Ferries can sail along rivers and along the coasts of countries.
Ferries can sail between islands and across seas.
Ferries are used in countries all around the world.
There are many different kinds of ferries.
Sydney in Australia is one city that has a regular ferry service that runs every day carrying passengers to different parts of Sydney Harbour. Workers use the ferries to get to work, and tourists travel on them to get to see the sights of Sydney.
Sydney Harbour ferries are double- ended ferries.
Double-ended ferries are built so that they can be sailed back and forth without the need to turn around.
Hydrofoils and hovercrafts
Hydrofoils and hovercrafts are fast, passenger-carrying ferries.
The hovercraft was invented by Christopher Cockerell in 1956.
It is a vehicle that floats over any smooth surface on a cushion of air that has been forced under the craft by a powerful fan. The air is pushed downwards by the fan against the surface the craft is floating over, causing the craft to lift.
A fabric ‘skirt’ keeps the cushion of air contained and prevents it from escaping. Once the craft is lifted, thrust is created to move it forward either by the engine that creates lift or by a separate engine. Steering the hovercraft is done by rudders behind the fan which are controlled by handlebars at the front of the craft.
Hovercraft come in many sizes. Large craft are used as passenger ferries. Hovercraft are used by the armed forces and for search and rescue. Small hovercraft l are used for racing and other leisure pursuits. They hover over any flat surface, including water, ice, snow, sand, mud and grass and can travel at speeds up to 70 km/h.
Catamarans are boats with twin hulls instead of one hull like traditional boats. They are used for very large ferries that travel at high-speed. The largest of these can carry up to 1500 people and more than 300 cars.
Sometimes a cable ferry is used to travel short distances across a river. This kind of ferry is pulled across the river by cables which are connected to each shore.
Ferries dock (stop) at specially built places where there are ramps from the ferry to the shore so that passengers can walk off and vehicles can be driven off the ferry.
On board a ferry
On ferries there are seats for the passengers. Some seats are inside the ferry and some are on the deck in the open air. Some ferries have restaurants and shops where passengers can buy food. On very large ferries there are cabins where passengers can sleep. The crew sails the ferry and takes care of passengers. There are life jackets for passengers in case of an emergency or an accident. There is also safety equipment in case they need to fight a fire on board.