When the Chappy Ferry came up for sale 15 summers ago, I came to the conclusion that I should be the person to assume responsibility for it. I had been looking for an occupation that my whole family could participate in. When you head off to work in the winter before sunrise and get home well after dark, you might get the feeling that you’re missing out on family life.

I considered taking on ownership of the surveying company where I had been working for two decades. But as the technology of surveying has progressed, most of the work is carried out by a lone individual. You’re either at a computer terminal doing calculations or taking measurements in the field with the help of a robotic theodolite. Not really work that can give you more time with your children.

However, the previous operators of the ferry had made it a family business. That appealed strongly to me. Plus, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the other entities that were interested in owning the Chappy Ferry. I figured that I had enough experience and a pretty good idea of how to operate the ferry from a half-century of living on Chappy as a summer kid and later as an adult, including a third of a century of driving the ferry.

I was already familiar with all of the drawbacks of living in a place separated from the rest of civilization by 527 feet of saltwater. I knew that some folks appreciated how the ferry had kept the passage of time on Chappy at bay and that the feel of the old days was highly valued. I also knew that for others, anything short of free passage, 24 hours a day was unacceptable and that they felt socially deprived. I was greatly relieved when the Katama breach closed up and people had an alternate route to come and go, depending, of course, on the vagaries of Mother Nature.

These days, the ferry has some very busy times. The traffic flow is very unpredictable. But these aren’t the busiest days the ferry service has experienced. The mid-80s went down in history as the summers that saw the longest lines on a consistent, daily basis. Those years have not been surpassed.

It takes constant vigilance by all involved with the ferry service to keep ahead of the wear and tear that the ferryboats and structures endure. We don’t like surprises. Keeping the ferries crewed is a juggling act; life places so many demands on kids these days as well as adults. Fortunately, I have family members who step in to fill the gaps that sometimes appear at the last minute. Dealing with all of the issues that come with owning the ferry is daunting. But when I’m driving the ferry with my granddaughters as my deckhands, it all feels worth it.