Sydney by ferry

Ferry FAQ

Some things that you might wonder about...

Three honks
Three toots of the horn is the standard way of telling every other boat that the ferry is reversing out from the wharf.  It was once rare, until double-ended ferries were pretty much done away with.

Why did we slow down?
If you're not approaching a wharf, then the most common reason is a speed limit.  Take a look out the side, you should be able to spot the sign that looks like a road speed limit (plus an arrow).  The speed is in knots, generally 4 or 8.  Double the number to get a rough conversion to kilometres per hour.  If you do want to look up the details, the harbour maps are on the NSW Roads & Maritime website.

Occasionally, a ferry has to slow down because somebody else does something silly right in front.  They might get a horn blast too.  Have a look at and see if you can spot who the idiot was.

Where did the crew disappear to?
Often, you will see the crew disappear as soon as you leave a wharf.  This is all about safety - usually, the deckhands have joined the skipper on the bridge as observers.  There have been two fatal ferry crashes in recent years, involving the ferries Pam Burridge and Dawn Fraser, and having "lookouts" is one way of making sure it doesn't happen again.

Food and drink
On rivercats, eating is not allowed inside, so the crew will usually ask you to sit outside.  On Manly ferries, including the private ferries, there is a food and drink counter on board.

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