Friday, April 30, 2010

Mark Twain

MV Pocahontas, 2003

Okay, so calling this “Mark Twain” is a bit of a stretch. But this is a story about a boat on a river, so I’m not afraid of borrowing the name Samuel Clements gave himself after working on the mighty Mississippi.

When my daughter was in her last couple of years at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the traffic between there and Virginia Beach got so bad that traveling that sixty-five miles could take as long as five hours (really), I started taking the Scotland Neck Ferry home instead.

The ferry runs from Jamestown on the north side of the James River to Scotland Neck on the south side. That’s not even in the right direction if you’re headed for our house. And even when there’s no wait at the ferry taking that route home is a good hour longer than taking the more direct interstate highway. But you could make money betting on the certainty of that being a two-hour drive, whereas taking the interstate home is a crapshoot. Besides, taking the ferry gives you a free forty-five minute boat ride.

After my daughter graduated from college, I continued to take the ferry home whenever possible if I found myself in Williamsburg on business. By then I’d started carrying a camera with me. So I decided to try to do a photo essay about the ferry.

Before 9/11 you could pretty much wander anywhere on the ferries—there are several of them—and around the piers. But after that even a benign little boat ride like this one turned into a national security risk. (Maybe because there’s a nuclear power plant on the river bank just to the east of the Scotland Neck landing.) So you were pretty much limited to taking pictures on the car deck.

I wasn’t very happy with the results. The exposures aren’t what they should be. But you can see in a few of these the beginnings of my fixation with shapes and colors.

Car Deck, 2003

Feeding the Birds, 2003

River Passing, 2003


  1. These are great! A ferry ride is always fun, anyway, isn't it?! I have some of the fondest memories of the Staten Island ferry as a kid, and I always love the ferries from Seattle over to the Olympic peninsula and from there over to Vancouver island etc. It's just always an adventure to me.

  2. I love ferries, Chris. When I lived in Germany for a year in college, I had to take a ferry twice daily across the Rhine to go to classes. And my husband proposed to be on the Jamestown ferry! So I have very fond memories of them. Thanks for the reminder!