The new ferry service will operate on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, departing the seaport at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2p.m, arriving about 45 minutes later at Beach Haven's Taylor Avenue Municipal Dock. The ferry will depart the Beach Haven dock at 9:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm.
There are plans to add a second boat for more frequent trips, and officials said more days could be added to the schedule depending on initial ridership.
There will be special Saturday service for Beach Haven's annual Chowderfest on Sept. 29, and regular Sunday service for the festival's second day that weekend.
Service was originally scheduled to begin this Sunday, Aug. 5, but was pushed back two weeks to allow finishing touches on the ferry boat, which was custom-ordered from a sightseeing boat builder in Florida.
Full scheduling information is published by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, which worked with Ocean County planners and Seaport and Beach Haven officials in support of the project
"It just opens another avenue of awareness of the area, about the history, the ecology," said Lori Pepenella, the chamber's executive director. As an alternative to congested roads, Pepenella added, “Certainly in key times, it could make a difference in whether somebody wants to come over or not.”
A one-way trip takes about 45 minutes, "on a good day," quipped Hart, referring to variable winds and wave heights that can prolong the 5-mile voyage.
The custom-built boat that will ferry beach goers, seasonal workers and others between is equipped with a pair of hollow aluminum V-shaped hulls designed to barely break the surface while still providing stability, and ideal combination for navigating the shallow but often choppy waters of lower Barnegat Bay.