Sea Gulls: Sea Gulls and various other birds like to follow the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry while it travels in hopes of spotting fish for an afternoon snack. The ferry’s movement stirs up the fish making it easier for the birds to dive for and capture. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Ship and Ferry: Another ferry transports vehicles across the 2.7 mile gap between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. The route crosses the Houston Ship Channel and often gives ferry riders an up close view of the ships as they enter the channel. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
By GARY WARREN
Formerly of Los Alamos
We have been traveling in Texas for the past three weeks. The primary reason for our frequent trips to Texas is to visit and assist Marilyn’s parents. While visiting them in the Houston area we did get away for a quick overnight getaway to Galveston, Texas.
Galveston is an island, which creates some interesting transportation scenarios during normal everyday activities such as work or school. There are several bridges which link the island to the mainland but another unique method of transportation is the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry.
The ferries link Galveston to Bolivar Peninsula every day of the year. The ferries operate 24 hours per day and are free to all vehicles. The ferry route is 2.7 miles long and takes about 18 minutes from port to port. It takes a few minutes to load vehicles onto the ferry and releasing vehicles on the other end of the route.
The ferry is operated by the Texas Department of Transportation. Each vessel can hold up to about 70 normal size vehicles, 500 passengers plus the crew of the ferry. Vehicles up to 65 feet long and 13.5 feet high are allowed on the ferry which includes almost all vehicles including 18 wheeler transport trucks. Obviously the capacity of the ferry decreases dramatically when larger vehicles are aboard. Depending on time of day and the amount of traffic there will be one to five ferries in operation at any given time.
Passengers may sit in their vehicle during the 18 minute journey or they may want to get out and walk about the deck of the ferry or go upstairs and take in the sites from the upper level. Riders are allowed to walk on the ferry and ride across and back just for the experience of riding the ferry. The ride takes passengers across the Houston Ship Channel where there are ships lined up to enter the channel at almost any time of the day. To view these massive ships from another sea vessel is quite an experience.
Riders on the ferry are greeted by many birds who love to follow along behind the ferry and search for fish that the vessel may have stirred up in transit. Dolphins can be seen as well as they search for fish around the ferry. Passengers may also see boats used for fishing and shrimping, cruise ships as they arrive or leave the Galveston docks where many cruises originate or a variety of other smaller boats during the trip on the ferry.
While growing up in Galveston County I took many of the sites and features seen in and around Galveston for granted. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoy seeing and visiting these sites and taking advantage of the many photographic opportunities they provide. Riding the ferry from Galveston to Bolivar Peninsula is just one of those activities that mean so much more today as a visitor to the area.
Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country, and he shares his photographs, which appear in the “Posts from the Road” series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Vehicles Loading Onto Ferry: Each ferry in the Galveston -Port Bolivar Ferry fleet can carry about 70 cars or trucks. They are loaded in a very orderly manner directed by ferry crew members. The entire ferry is loaded in about nine minutes. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Upper Deck: Passengers are allowed to walk about the ferry during the 18 minute journey from port to port. The upper deck allows passengers to take in the sites and views from a different perspective. They may also walk about the lower deck around the vehicles. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Ship Channel Traffic: Another site passengers enjoy while riding the ferry is the constant movement of ships as they enter the Houston Ship Channel. Thousands of ships enter the channel annually and can almost always be seen while riding the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry. A closer look at the photo shows a smaller boat just right of the center as it moves around the massive ships. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com