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New South Ferry boat, ‘Southern Cross,’ shipshape for home voyage

The newest South Ferry boat, Southern Cross, was christened recently at Blount Boats in Warren, R.I.

According to South Ferry President Cliff Clark, Captains Liam Shultz and Michael Earley were given the privilege of enacting the age-old ritual for the 101-foot-long, 40-foot wide boat.

“We gave them the honor because those two men are part of South Ferry’s incredible maintenance team,” Mr. Clark said.

The Southern Cross will bring the company’s fleet to five boats, with four of them “101-footers,” Mr. Clark said.

The Captain Bill Clark, a smaller boat, will be kept in service for the next eight years or so, Mr. Clark said, when it will be replaced by a larger boat.

One or both of the captains have been in Rhode Island every week, along with South Ferry’s Chief Engineer Captain Joe Clark, for at least one day for the past six months, monitoring the construction.

Mr. Clark had hoped that a crew would travel to Rhode Island sometime next week, to take charge of the boat and then get under way for Shelter Island, but the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into scheduling.

“Captain Earley has been in Rhode Island for two weeks, but unfortunately, Rhode Island has shut down to New York traffic, so we can’t go up this week,” Mr. Clark said. “We’re not sure about how we’ll send a team into Rhode Island to bring the boat to Shelter Island, so we’ll see about the actual arrival date. We may go up in one of our private boats and get her.”

Mr. Clark said there was no urgency to put Southern Cross into service since, “for the next few weeks, at least, the traffic will not stress our current fleet at all. “

South Ferry previously had a boat named the Southern Cross; that name was changed to the Lt. Joseph J. Theinert to honor the memory of the Islander killed in the line of duty.