You see more when you travel slowly

Passengers from a paddle steamer disembark at Ryde Pierhead. Was the wheel above the rudder used when going astern?

Passengers from a paddle steamer disembark at Ryde Pierhead. Was the wheel above the rudder used when going astern?

Doris: to the mayorality born

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I am sure we can all remember when a trip across the Solent from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde was always something special and everyone knew a good day was to be had.

The modern fastcraft and hovercraft that whizz us across the water in 15 minutes or so are all very well, but many used to enjoy the 40-minute trip that was then the only option. And, of course, thousands still choose to cross that way. And if you’ve got a vehicle then, of course, you have no choice.

I used to love sitting on the upper deck in the open air and watch all the passing shipping. A cup of tea was always a treat as well.

Speed is all very well, but if you are out for the day what better way is there to begin and end your trip than on the car ferry?

A further thrill was entering Portsmouth Harbour after dark. The neon lights from the funfair on Clarence Pier, the street lights and the buoys lighting the way, some with bells clanging... all missed by the modern, time-poor traveller.

Here we see a paddle steamer off-loading its passengers at Ryde. Most will no doubt take a train across the island, some as far as Ventnor where they would take the steep walk down to the beach.

I wonder if any of you former Isle of Wight ferrymen can tell me what the wheel was used for at the stern?.

It is set above the rudder. I can only assume it was an aid when going astern, but I would like to know.

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