More boat commutes

Two recent real estate profiles in the Times have profiled folks who use boats to get to their waterfront weekend/summer houses. Moving over water is typically more energy efficient than moving over land, and many prime destinations front onto navigable waterways. Improved water quality, the dramatic decline in other water traffic as less freight moves by boat, and waterfront residential and commercial development have also all moving out onto the water a logical next step. Plus, a bit of seafaring can lend a bit of excitement to an otherwise uneventful commute.

Of course, thousands of commuters take ferries into New York or Seattle every day. But the weekend getaway, whether house, camp, or B&B, has strayed from its 19th-century roots as a far-flung ring of railroad resorts beyond the commuter belt and become all but inaccessible to the car-free. Perhaps this was inevitable; mass transit, by definition, needs urban densities (i.e., mass) to survive. But infrequent ferries (after all, you’re on vacation — what’s the rush?) and relatively more compact resort planning could cut Friday evening traffic jams and help resort towns grow more sustainably.

For Stephen Goodman and Lisa Wolford, a fifteen-minute stroll and a catamaran ferry make for an intentionally car-free urban escape; for Chris Sieber and Kevin Burrows, a rowboat (albeit after a 40-mile drive from the city).