Out of order

Published 11:41 am Thursday, November 2, 2017

WINDSOR – Over the next several months, don’t wait for the operator of the Sans Souci Ferry to respond if you honk your horn in an effort to summon him for a free ride across the Cashie River.

The cable-drawn ferry, one of only three of its kind still in operation in North Carolina, is closed until early January for needed repairs.

San Souci Ferry is operated by the NCDOT’s Division One office based in Edenton. It has been in operation since the 1930’s and is capable of transporting two vehicles at the time, fording the river to connect motorists traveling on Sans Souci Road and Woodard Road. An earlier, even more primitive version of this ferry was in operation back in the 1800’s.

NCDOT is using this shutdown, which began last week, to perform maintenance work, including a complete overhaul of the diesel-powered vessel and to rebuild the gear house.

If Mother Nature cooperates, that work is scheduled for completion on Jan. 8.

The Sans Souci Ferry is literally driven, or one could say guided, by a steel cable that stretches across the river. The cable is secured on each side of the river by steel posts. As the ferry crosses the river, the force of the boat, with the help of rollers on the side of the boat, pulls the normally submerged cable out of the water. The cable is permanently secured to the ferry and prevents the boat from straying off course in normal river currents.

The ferry carries a maximum of two cars and does not operate in high water conditions or storms, as there is too much risk of the cable snapping in such treacherous conditions.

Persons wanting to ride the ferry that happen to be on the opposite side of the river than the ferry must blow their vehicle’s horn to summon the operator.

The free trip by ferry across the Cashie River takes roughly five minutes and saves a drive of about 20 miles.

Sans Souci is one of three cable ferries that are still operating in North Carolina. The others are Parker’s Ferry, that crosses the Meherrin River in Hertford County, and Elwell Ferry, that fords the Cape Fear River in Bladen County.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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