Betty Babcock rides the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry practically each different day of the week. Having grown up in Glastonbury, she will recount many childhood journeys throughout the Connecticut River.

“I’ve been using the ferry since I used to be a little bit baby,” Babcock stated. “Issues have modified, however the ferry journey actually hasn’t.”

Babcock, who’s now retired, frequents the ferry to see mates, run errands and for eating out.

“I feel it’s a well-kept secret,” Babcock stated. “It’s so handy for me. It takes a lot much less time than if I needed to drive all the way in which to the Putnam Bridge.”

The seasonal ferry crossing between the cities of Glastonbury and Rocky Hill is a part of Route 160 and is the oldest constantly working ferry service in the US. Began in 1655, it started earlier than the founding of the cities — each have been a part of Wethersfield at the moment.

The unique crossing was a easy raft that was poled throughout the Connecticut River. By the 18th century, it was powered by a horse on a treadmill earlier than being upgraded to a steamship in 1876. As we speak’s ferry is a three-car barge named the Hollister III pulled by a diesel towboat named the Cumberland. Each the barge and towboat have been inbuilt 1955.

“I’ve the most effective job within the state,” stated Blaise Clemente, ferry grasp captain. “I plan on by no means giving this job up till I retire.”

Clemente, a Boston native who was beforehand a lobsterman, has labored the ferry for 18 years with 10 of these as a skipper.

“I’ve been on the water since I used to be a toddler,” Clemente stated. “After I first got here to Connecticut, I went to each single port within the state in search of a job, and I got here throughout the ferry in 2004. On the time, I used to be one of many first new hires in seven years. Nobody retires or leaves until they completely must.”

Clemente and Ferry First Mate Salvatore Carta act as a two-man crew.As Clemente captains the towboat, Salvatore Carta helps information passengers and automobiles onboard the barge. Rotating crews work in shifts with a morning and afternoon crew switching off noon. The journey to cross the river takes round 10 minutes.

“It’s a blast,” Carta stated. “Everyone seems to be so comfortable and excited to be on the ferry. The views are spectacular.”

The ferry runs constantly from April by means of November seven days per week, 7 a.m. to six:45 p.m. Monday by means of Friday and 10:30 a.m. to five p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Climate situations, water ranges or mechanical points can typically affect the operation of the ferries. The Connecticut Division of Transportation will submit closures or delays on its web site.

“We had a steering subject simply final week that shut us down for a day,” Clemente stated. “However we received it serviced and inspected by the Coast Guard and we have been again to regular operations fairly shortly. It’s uncommon we ever shut as a result of mechanical or climate points for any prolonged time period as soon as the season begins.”

The ferry season was delayed this yr till early Could as a result of excessive water ranges and a mechanical subject. In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the season was shortened and passengers have been required to put on masks. However this yr Clemente stated feels again to regular as ridership ranges are up.

“That is probably the most busy yr we’ve ever had,” Clemente stated. “We common over 400 riders each weekend. That’s after we’re most busy. We get lots of people desirous to dine out and go to bars. The financial affect the ferry has to the neighborhood is gigantic.”

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Clemente stated that whereas ridership total was down through the pandemic, the typical weekday ridership has remained regular.

“We get about 125 riders on common per day,” Clemente stated. “You get to know numerous the riders, and also you additionally get some new faces. It’s nice to be again to regular operations.”

The price to journey the ferry is $5 per automobile on weekdays and $6 per automobile on weekends. The ferry can transport automobiles, vehicles, SUVs and bikes. There’s a $2 stroll on charge for pedestrians and bicyclists. For anybody utilizing the ferry constantly, a commuter e book of 20 rides may be bought for $60 with a charge of $3 per automobile.

“I journey this for enjoyable,” stated Mary Swanson of Cromwell. “I’m retired. I don’t care about comfort. It is a pleasure cruise.”

Swanson and her canine “Jack Whiskers” take the ferry a few occasions per week and journey forwards and backwards simply to catch some waves and sunshine.

“I purchased the commuter e book,” Swanson stated. “It’s price each penny.”

Stephen Underwood may be reached at [email protected]

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