Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to cross the harbour from the wheel house of one of our Harbour Ferries. The Dartmouth Ferry is the Oldest Continuously operated salt water Ferry in North America, having gone into service in 1752. The Former City of Dartmouth took over the operation of the Ferry 110 years ago.
The Current Vessels include Dartmouth III and Halifax III Both built in 1979 in Pictou, And the Woodside I Built in 1986 in Pictou. All three ferries are double-ended side-loading, and use two 230 hp Caterpillar model 3306 engines, each driving a model 12E/75 Voith-Schneider propeller. A 4th Ferry of the Same design has been approved for Purchase to improve service on the Halifax-Woodside run.
A Voith-Schneider propeller is like a giant eggbeater, and allows the ferries to move in any direction as well as stop and change direction very quickly. Its controlled via two large steering wheels (one per Drive) that control the blade angle. The operator switches sides so they face forward with direction of travel.