Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Featuring........The Car Ferry!

If you own a vehicle and live on an island, a car ferry is an essential mode of transportation. Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to use it once in awhile. Even so, I hate it. It is a stressful situation, especially leaving from the mainland, Punta Sam. Although there are two ferries, usually only one is in operation at any time. It takes 45 minutes to cross.

When I first moved to Isla Mujeres, I could show up 5 minutes before departure on the island side and be assured of a place. On the mainland side, usually 15 minutes was enough time. Nowadays, I need at least 30 minutes on the island side. And I had better be in line at least 1.5 hours before departure from the mainland if I even want to hope to get on. Such is the increase of private vehicles now owned on the island AND the ever increasing amount of delivery trucks and, most importantly, huge construction material delivery trucks. Just four of these trucks will fill the whole ferry.

Not every day of the week nor every ferry is full to capacity though. You just never know how many vehicles/trucks will be in line and you had better not chance it. Otherwise you could be waiting for hours in Punta Sam to get on one, just to come home! OK, so let's get on board!

This picture was taken from the top deck, looking down the loading ramp and entrance to the ferry itself. To the left in this picture is the parking lot where we all dutifully line up.

The view from the front, Isla Mujeres just barely visible in the distance. I think it is 8 miles across the bay here.

Looking off the side to the north, there are usually a few of these old shrimp boats tied up. Yes, they are actually used and taken into deep water. You wouldn't get me to step foot on any of them.

Actually, there are three stories to the ferry. The bottom level where the vehicles are parked, the middle level, pictured below, which is not much more than a passageway to the top. Bathrooms, which are fairly well kept, are on this level also.

Looking from the middle level out the back of the ferry. Cancun shoreline is now in the distance.

Venturing on up, we step out onto the large, flat deck of the ferry. There are benches lining the railing to sit on. There is a pilot's house on each end, since the boat never turns around. Kind of like a train having a engine at both ends. There is also a refreshment stand on board. They sell drinks and snacks.

They don't do a rushing business. Notice the clerk.

They also have life boats on board, just in case. I'm sure these float but they look to me like the last time they were used, a shark attacked the survivors. Or at least the boat.

I never get tired of looking at the water.

Now here is a location on the boat I do not recommend.

These unwary tourists are standing at the very front of the bottom level. They are lucky it was a really calm day. Even on a calm day, it can be rough out in the middle. I've posted videos about riding the ferry before. The front end will crash into waves and send them soaring all over the cars in the front row. Some of them are so big, they could just sweep these people off their feet and out the open front end.

Finally we are approaching the island.

Now we've rounded the corners and are travelling along the length of the island. Not all that far from shore either.

Another view out the back as boats cross our wake.

Here's the ocean side view of the newest monstrosity to grace North Beach. More about this place in another post.

It only takes about 5 minutes from where the above picture was taken to be docked and to start unloading. It is always a very organized operation. As is parking on the ferry. The guys who direct you on and off and how to park are very good at what they do.

So there you have. Your very own car ferry trip, without the stress and without taking 45 minutes!


Anonymous said...

Hola! Wayne, I feel your pain about having to take the car ferry - we have to do it too on this my colder island. I invite you to read my ferry installment "Changing of the Guard" on my blog @ "Island Nana"

lisaloveloca said...

Thanks for the virtual trip Mr. MN!!

So nice to have a nice stress free ride across that beautiful blue blue crazy blue ocean whilst toiling away here at my desk!

heatherinparadise said...

That was so realistic I just got seasick and barfed all over my keyboard! Oh wait, I guess that could just because I'm too hungover for the earth.

Michele in Playa said...

My favorite thing about the car ferry is when you turn up, get in line and wait and then they randomly decide to cancel that scheduled trip. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

Wayne - GREAT report and photos. What does it cost to ferry across? Is the price seasonally adjusted?

Just curious John

J. Calypso

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the trip! Laying on the beach we always wondered what it was like on the "car ferry"

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