Freshwater

Type :
Steel motor vessel
Launched  :
1984
Builder :
Newcastle State Dockyard
Newcastle, NSW
Gross weight :
1140 tons
Dimensions :
70.40 x 13.06 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
1100
Speed :
14 knots

The first of her class, Freshwater was the first of what was planned to be three big, new identical ferries, ultimately four were built with the Collaroy, being the last, joining her three sisters in 1988.

By the late 1970's, the Manly ferry fleet was in serious decline & the then state government commenced building a new fleet to service the run. The proposed ferries were to be the biggest & fastest built for the Manly trip. The biggest they were, however although rated at 18 knots, they rarely do more than 14 knots. Interestingly, one of the reasons given for the withdrawal of the South Steyne was that she was too big. These ferries are even bigger, although they carry less people due to more space being given over to passenger amenities & crew quarters.

Freshwater and her sisters are built with far more bluff bows than the earlier craft, this makes them ship a lot of water in rough weather, often throwing water over the wheelhouse. Nevertheless, they offer more comforts than the old ships and are very popular with the public. The four sisters have driven new records in the amount of passengers being carried to and from Manly.

Although the Freshwater provided many new comforts to her passengers, she was initially a nightmare for her owners. The control mechanisms, though state of the art, were somewhat temperamental and often led the ship astray. Just over a month in service, she broke down in the middle of the harbour and drifted about while engineers repaired her generator circuit breakers. The following month near Bradleys Head, she developed fuel line problems and again stopped, shortly thereafter the circuit breakers failed again and she had to be towed to Circular Quay.  A couple of weeks later, they failed for a third time.

Computer steering problems caused her to fail to stop while heading into the wharf at Manly on the 10th of March, 1983. She ran up onto the beach and refused to come down until the afternoon's high tide floated her off. A few days later, Freshwater broke down again, this time one of the microprocessors in a fault warning system failed and halted the ship. A replacement was taken from the Queenscliff then under construction at Newcastle. Two days later a governor on one of the engines failed and brought the ship to a halt.

Freshwater managed to stay out of the news until the 30th of March in 1985 when a man attempted to hijack her. He had broken up with his girlfriend and wanted to jump off the ship outside the Heads. Fortunately, the captain was able to radio for help and the Water Police arrived to arrest the man.

In October of 2005, Freshwater once again hit the wharf at Manly. As a result of this and a spate of accidents involving her sisters data recorders were installed across the fleet to monitor their movements.