On Tuesday, I drove to Pope’s Island in the middle of New Bedford harbor to retrieve the spare engine for the Chappy Ferry. If you have an extra 30 minutes the next time you are headed westward, take a detour down Route 240 into Fairhaven and get on Route 6, which takes you across Pope’s Island. If the swing bridge opens while you are in transit, that’s actually good. Perhaps you will be in a good spot in the 10-minute traffic jam to get a good look around the harbor.

The harbor is a forest of fishing boat masts. Hard to believe that those boats were all at sea at the same time years ago. It’s a testament to our human out-numbering of the critters that live in the ocean. There is clear evidence driving through Fairhaven that the town was very prosperous during its formative years. The high school is a huge stone castle of a building.

The ferry engine was rebuilt by the R.A. Mitchell Company. The ferry service is all about redundancy and spare parts. The founder of the company is Charlie Mitchell’s brother Bob. Charlie runs the tugboat Jaguar that visits Vineyard Haven occasionally. On the wall of the tool room is firmly mounted one of the old hand-cranked drills. It is labeled, “R.A.M. first cordless drill.”

Last year I went to R.A. Mitchell to get oil seals for my son in law Erik to install in one of the ferry engines to extend its workable lifespan. The seals require a special tool to install. We had borrowed specialized gizmos from Bob before. His shop practices the doctrine of redundancy but at the moment there was only one of the gizmos we needed on hand. A generally mild-mannered Bob was clearly upset that he couldn’t help us. One of the few perks of operating the ferry is the opportunity to spend time with the people who enable the waterfront industry to endure.

The Falmouth to Edgartown ferry has begun its spring schedule. The BTT barges doing wharf repair work were moved across the channel to allow the Pied Piper to dock over Memorial Day weekend. The spring schedule provides service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 12. Daily service will begin on June 17. Save yourself the hassle of a trip to the big ferry and have your house guests delivered right to Chappy’s doorstep. It’s a great sightseeing voyage and gives everybody a chance to slow down to the Island’s pace.