After 140 years, ferry service returns to New Jersey resorts

Two New Jersey Shore resorts will get their ferry service revived after 140 years, with the delivery of the Pohatcong II, a 30’x12’x3’ aluminum catamaran.

Named for an 1870s bay steamboat, the Pohatcong II will shuttle between Tuckerton and Beach Haven, N.J., as a summer service for visitors and workers commuting to Long Beach Island jobs.

Built by Sightseer Marine Inc., Hudson, Fla., the vessel is powered by twin Mercury SeaPro 115-hp outboards, and is equipped to carry up to 40 passengers on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible aluminum bench seating with cushions, under a canopy with an isinglass roll-down weather enclosure.

The Pohatcong II has ADA-compliant access for passengers and a man overboard rescue platform. Kirk Moore photo.

The Pohatcong II has ADA-compliant access for passengers and a man overboard rescue platform. Kirk Moore photo.

The $120,000 boat was delivered Sept. 27 and awaited a final Coast Guard inspection before starting service, said Brooke Salvanto, museum director at the non-profit Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum, which will be the Pohatcong II homeport.

“Last summer we started a pilot program” to test market the service that’s been discussed for two years among officials and economic development planners in both towns, said Lori Pepenella, CEO of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. Grants and support from local businesses helped to finance construction and operating the boat, she said.

“The Seaport’s going to be using it too, for school groups and tours,” she said.

“This boat will be working all the time. It will also be a floating classroom, said Salvanto.

Captains Charlie Roth and Dick Guldey will make regularly scheduled runs from Tuckerton Creek to Beach Haven, and the hope is the ferry could be a regular commuting option for mainland residents who work on the island. There will be an online reservation service at LBIFerry.com.

The original Pohatcong was a steam ferry that ran in the 1870s. Painting by Dennis Seeley/courtesy Tuckerton Seaport.

The original Pohatcong was a steam ferry that ran in the 1870s. Painting by Dennis Seeley/courtesy Tuckerton Seaport.

The first Pohatcong ferry was built for service on Rancocas Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River that in the 1800s connected New Jersey farm towns to Philadelphia. The steamboat was brought to Tuckerton in the 1870s to pick up vacationers from the Philadelphia area on the new Tuckerton Railroad, and carry them across the bay to Beach Haven, said Tim Hart, Ocean County’s historian and director of engagement at the Tuckerton Seaport.

The old ferry went out of business in less than a decade back then, after a direct railroad bridge was built to Long Beach Island. But today a boat ride can again be more attractive option, ferry backers say.

The 18-mile long barrier beach island is accessed by a single highway bridge at its center, the same route as that old 19th-century railroad. Tuckerton residents who have jobs in Beach Haven have a circuitous drive of more than 20 miles to get to work by car, compared to going by boat five miles across Little Egg Harbor.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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