Ferry Hopping

I’m completely humbled by the response to the recent "How Many Islands in the USA Require Ferry Travel" article. I found 64 islands matching the criteria and stood back smugly until user-after-user uncovered additional instances that I’d overlooked. The number of islands currently stands at 77 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued to grow. You know where I made my mistake — in addition to my failure to notice extremely obvious examples (Nantucket? How could I forget Nantucket?) — I probably should have limited the list to islands with permanent civilian populations in order to eliminate park shuttles, excursion boats and water taxis. Live and learn. Thank you for the opportunity to demonstrate the folly of my hubris. I shall better appreciate the wisdom of the crowd from now on.

A couple of comments stood-out even during the height of the feedback deluge. I’d expressed a fascination with islands so remote that travelers could get to them by ferry only after arriving on another island accessible only by ferry (ignoring of course that someone could always take their own boat or a helicopter or something). I called those double-disconnected islands. Then, two 12MC readers identified triple-disconnected islands. I found an additional example myself, later.

Hornby Island

Vancouver Island to Denman Island to Hornby Island

Mark Sundstrom got credit for mentioning Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada. Ignoring some more efficient options, one would need to take a ferry to Vancouver Island, then a ferry to Denman Island, and finally a ferry to Hornby Island. Each leg would require a separate ferry with distinct points of embarkation and debarkation.

Hornby Island was notable for its population of US draft dodgers that fled to Canada to escape conscription during the Vietnam War. "For decades the island has been a refuge for artists, activists, draft dodgers and vacationers alike." It offered a logical hiding place: a location so remote that authorities would need to take multiple ferry routes if they wanted to deport a gang of aging hippies who weren’t causing anyone any trouble anyway. It probably wasn’t worth the effort.

Outer Islands, Norway

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Another instance was noted by Fredrik, a 12MC reader from Norway. He identified a spot west of Ytre Sula, the island in Solund not the mountain in Surnadal.

(Translated…) Husoy or Outer [Ytre] Sula is an island in solund municipality at the mouth of the Sognefjord in Sogn og Fjordane. The island has an area of 32 km². In the east borders the island Steinsundet and islands Rånøy and Stein Sundøy. The island of Sula is located east of these again. South of Outer Sula lies Sognesjøen and to the west lies Straumfjorden

The third ferry should be found somewhere in that little swarm of islands that I marked (I think). Available maps didn’t provide very good coverage of minor outlying ferry routes in Norway and I didn’t have sufficient Norwegian proficiency (i.e., none) to begin to search for a ferry even with translation software. Fredrik said the triple-disconnected island was out there though, and I have no reason to doubt it.

Unst or Fetlar, UK

Great Britain to Shetland to Yell to Unst or Fetlar

I remembered that my Ferries of the British Islands and the Republic of Ireland map included batches of different ferries twisting between and amongst islands. I discovered two great triple-disconnected examples with Unst and Fetlar in Shetland. Starting on Great Britain:

  1. Ferry to Mainland (the primary Shetland island)
  2. Ferry to Yell
  3. Ferry either to Unst or Fetlar

A ferry route also connected Unst and Fetlar so it would should be possible to travel in a nice triangular manner from Yell to Unst to Fetlar (or reverse) and capture both of the triple-disconnected islands in one easy shot. Additionally, these islands would have been quadruple-disconnected if only it wasn’t for the Chunnel connecting Great Britain to continental Europe.

There might be additional triples and perhaps even legitimate quadruples in other heavily populated island groups and archipelagos such as those found in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines or Japan. I’ll leave those areas of the world for others to explore.

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